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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.
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Working to make clean energy a top local priority

The following is a copy of a guest editorial in the May 6-19, 2011 York Independent (http://www.yorkindependent.net/) written by YEEC member Victoria Simon.

In a publication titled “Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?” the National Priorities Project informs us that environment, energy and science receive 3 cents for every tax dollar. That includes research on clean energy. That’s a pretty measly piece of the Federal budget considering the enormity of the problems of air and water pollution, resource depletion and the dire warnings of climatologists and other scientists.

In its March report the American Lung Association pointed out that half the population lives where the air is so polluted with smog and particles that it is often dangerous to breathe. Toxic air pollution from coal fired power plants is among the biggest contributors to ozone and particle pollution in the country.

Since the pollution spreads across state lines, the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to enforce federal clean air standards is the only protection many communities have. The House of Representatives just passed a budget that would weaken the work of the EPA by reducing its budget by 16%.

Behind such budget cuts and attempts to weaken environmental protections are climate change denying and the idea that the country can’t afford to protect the environment right now. Climate Capitalism by L. Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen contend that comprehensive clean-energy and climate legislation could create 1.9 million jobs, and that improving indoor air quality could save businesses $200 billion annually in energy costs.

The warning bells have sounded; the BP oil rig explosion and the dumping of oil into the gulf, Japan’s partial nuclear melt down and the release of radiation into the air and water has serious consequences. Seawater tested near Japan’s coast show radiation surged to 7.5 million times above the regulatory limit. Seafood from both the Gulf and Japan present a health risk.

We have the knowledge and tools to shift to clean energy. It would help if the federal government would subsidize solar and wind companies (rather than oil companies that earn $60 billion annually). Models of clean energy industry can be seen here and abroad. Australia has committed to fully outfitting three of its biggest cities for widespread electric car use to be operational in three years. California has built two new solar plants that will generate 800 megawatts roughly equal to the size of a large coal-burning power plant or a small nuclear plant.

Perhaps most encouraging, is that there is a youth climate movement in this country called Power Shift. Ten thousand young people gathered in Washington DC for the third such gathering; sharing stories of campaigns to get local food on campuses, to shut down coal plants and stop natural gas fracking (a method of extracting natural gas that results in the release of dangerous levels of methane gas). Jessy Tolken, one of the founders of the Energy Action Coalition, says that the dynamic of their movement is leaning in the direction of building the solutions in communities.

As residents of our community, we can do our part by cleaning up and protecting our rivers, forests, wild life, open spaces and wetlands. We can reduce, reuse, recycle. We can contact our elected officials and urge them to legislate for clean energy and the protection of our natural resrouces ever mindful of our responsibility to the next seven generations.

Victoria Simon
York Energy Efficiency Committee

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