DuPage County looks to lower greenhouse emissions
Updated: June 8, 2012 10:56AM
DuPage County has delayed approval of a plan for spelling out its commitment to minimizing the greenhouse gases emitted from county sources.
Officials say they don’t oppose going on record with their support for the Cool Counties program; they just want to know more about what it would entail.
Environmental Committee member Bill Bedrossian asked that the issue be tabled until more specific information is compiled about the county’s carbon footprint and options for reducing it. The details provided so far are insufficient, Bedrossian said earlier this month.
“I just think it’s a big issue,” he said. “I think we have to move forward with it, and I want to engage the public ... I just want to make sure we do it wisely and effectively.”
The committee put off until at least June a decision on supporting the effort by the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club to persuade the county to join the nationwide initiative. The 17-member DuPage County Environmental Commission also has been urging adoption of the measures, which include a call for reducing emissions by 2 percent over the next three years.
“Our exploration of the program suggests that this be a collaborative effort between the county, townships, municipalities and special purpose governmental entities (such as the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County) and the private sector — businesses, institutions, and residents of DuPage County,” commission Chairman Jack Sheaffer wrote in a letter to DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin earlier this year.
Lonnie Morris, chairwoman of the Sierra Club’s River Prairie Group, isn’t too discouraged by the delay. She commended the committee’s cautious approach.
“They seem to want to have additional information about the metrics — what is the amount of greenhouse gasses the county is producing right now? — so they can get an idea what a 2-percent reduction looks like,” she said.
Solutions for cutting the output could include working to reduce vehicle miles traveled or boosting buildings’ heating and cooling efficiencies, she said, adding that the possibilities are numerous.
“I think they want to get a better idea where they’re starting, to know how to get that 2-percent reduction by 2015,” Morris said. “They don’t represent insurmountable obstacles.
“They just need to be worked through so this can move forward.”
The county has adopted assorted green practices, garnering recent recognition from the State Electronics Challenge. DuPage is the first county to be distinguished since the program was established four years ago.
“Throughout this past year county employees saved enough energy to power 172 DuPage County homes, avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 250 cars from our roadways and diverted 3,939 pounds of electronic waste from our landfills,” environmental committee chairman Jeff Redick said announcing the distinction. “We are just one entity that is making this much of an impact on our environment and I urge DuPage County businesses and households to follow our lead.”
Naperville County Board member Jim Healy has said it’s entirely possible to “come up with ways that allow us to go green without killing our pocketbooks.”
Morris is hopeful that the green momentum will build with board passage of the Cool Counties measure.
“I’m going to be so excited if this passes,” she said.