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Mayor declares city goes green

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD On April 18, Springfield officially went "green."

Mayor Charles Ryan announced that he had signed the resolution from the U.S. Conference of Mayors to reduce global warming through municipal efforts. Springfield joined 453 cities across the country in signing the pledge that would help the nation meet the Kyoto Protocol, which defines reductions in greenhouse gases. The Bush Administration has not yet signed the Protocol.

The United States has less than five percent of the world's population, but is responsible for producing 25 percent of the world's global warming pollutants, according to information supplied by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

As previously reported in Reminder Publications, Springfield was judged and found to be one of the "greenest" communities in the country by Country Home magazine. The city was deemed fourth "greenest' in the nation on a number of criteria.

The mayor also announced the city would be undertaking a program to remove dead trees and stumps throughout the community and plant 1,300 to 1,400 new trees.

Ryan credited Springfield resident Ambassador Mark Hambly, who has been involved in the campaign to build support for the Protocol, with bringing the pledge to his attention.

Hambly said that cities could do much to reduce harmful pollutants through recycling and reforestation efforts.

He also said the mayor's efforts will hopefully have an impact on Congress to write new legislation to reduced emissions nationally.

The resolution reads in part: "We urge the federal government and state governments to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the target of reducing global warming pollution levels to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012, including efforts to: reduce the United States' dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate the development of clean, economical energy resources and fuel-efficient technologies such as conservation, methane recovery for energy generation, waste to energy, wind and solar energy, fuel cells, efficient motor vehicles,and biofuels.

"B. We urge the U.S. Congress to pass bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation that includes 1) clear timetables and emissions limits and 2) a flexible, market-based system of tradable allowances among emitting industries; and C. We will strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing global warming pollution by taking actions in our own operations and communities such as:

1. Inventory global warming emissions in City operations and in the community, set reduction targets and create an action plan.

2. Adopt and enforce land-use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities;

3. Promote transportation options such as bicycle trails, commute trip reduction programs, incentives for car-pooling and public transit;

4. Increase the use of clean, alternative energy by, for example, investing in "green tags," advocating for the development of renewable energy resources, recovering landfill methane for energy production and supporting the use of waste to energy technology;

5. Make energy efficiency a priority through building code improvements, retrofitting city facilities with energy efficient lighting and urging employees to conserve energy and save money;

6. Purchase only Energy Star equipment and appliances for City use;

7. Practice and promote sustainable building practices using the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program or a similar system;

8. Increase the average fuel efficiency of municipal fleet vehicles; reduce the number of vehicles; launch an employee education program including anti-idling messages; convert diesel vehicles to bio-diesel;

9. Evaluate opportunities to increase pump efficiency in water and wastewater systems; recover wastewater treatment methane for energy production;

10. Increase recycling rates in City operations and in the community;

11. Maintain healthy urban forests; promote tree planting to increase shading and to absorb CO2;

and 12. Help educate the public, schools, other jurisdictions, professional associations, business and industry about reducing global warming pollution."

Ryan also announced, with a smile, the new official city color: green.