The Montgomery County Group focuses on local issues, including improving public transit, maintaining clean water sources, supporting and monitoring the county's Climate Protection Plan, and endorsing and supporting green candidates. The Executive Committee of the Montgomery Group meets the third Monday of each month. Please contact our chair Dave Sears (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you'd like to join us.
5/18/15 Two victories in one week! Last week the County Council sided with Sierra Club MoCo on two key climate change issues- maintaining the current County energy tax and adding two energy program managers to the Office of Sustainability, a doubling of the staff working to increase clean energy.
Sierra Club MoCo testified against reducing the energy tax, the only testimony that opposed reducing the tax. The others testifying - various Chambers of Commerce and other commercial interests - all favored reducing the energy tax in an amount that would have cost the County about $12 million in revenue and weakened incentives for energy conservation. The energy tax is as close to a carbon tax as we have.
The vote was narrow - 5 to 4 - with Councilmembers Elrich, Hucker, Navarro, Riemer and Rice voting against reducing the tax.
On staffing in the Office of Sustainability, Sierra Club MoCo began lobbying to expand the number of energy managers once the Department of Environmental Protection released its Report showing that energy use was growing in MoCo - despite the County’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The County Executive did not support additional positions for the Office. But Councilmember Berliner scheduled a worksession of the Council’s Transportation and Energy Committee to address the implications of the Report. Sierra Club MoCo, the only group outside the government asked to testify, argued for funding additional staff to counteract the increasing energy use documented in the Department’s Report.
The final budget reflected the addition of two new energy positions – a residential energy manager to promote clean residential energy and an energy outreach specialist to work with civic and other community groups on expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Thanks to all who wrote and called their Councilmembers! These were true victories in tough budget times.