K’hook responds to climate change challenge

KINDERHOOK–The Town Board this week adopted two resolutions dealing with climate change. The votes at the Monday, October 19 meeting approved resolutions the same as measures already approved by the Towns of Chatham and Hillsdale and the Village of Chatham, which were requested by the local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) and representatives from the state’s Climate Smart Communities program.

No representatives from either the CCL or the state attended the October 19 meeting. The resolutions were presented to the board by the town’s representative on the county Environmental Management Council, Ed Simonsen. Mr. Simonsen started talking to the Town Board in August about approving the resolutions, called the Cooperstown Resolution and the Climate Smart Communities Pledge.

At the October meeting, the board passed both resolutions at the same time by a 3-1 vote, with only Councilman Paul Voltz voting against. Councilwoman Deb Simonsmeier was not at the meeting.

Mr. Voltz said he had some questions about the motions. “Some of it I agree with; some of it I don’t,” he said. He talked about part of the Cooperstown Resolution, which asks for a reduction in use of fossil fuels, which he said is a realistic goal at this time. He also talked about natural gas, saying of the resolution, “I assume its anti-fracking.”

The Cooperstown Resolution says, among other things, that the town will urge the county, the state and the federal government “to take prompt and effective measures to rapidly address climate change by promoting and encouraging a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and their associated infrastructure, improvement in the efficiency of energy systems, and the development and installation of renewable energy systems.” It also resolves that the town will work “with any level of government to achieve these goals.”

The Climate Smart Communities program is a state Department of Environmental Conservation initiative intended to help municipalities research and invest in green technologies. In the resolution, the board agrees to the take the Climate Smart Pledge, which comprises of 10 elements that include setting goals, inventorying emissions and planning for climate action. It also says the board will decrease community energy use and increase community use of renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions through use of climate-smart land-use tools, and commit to an evolving process of climate action.

Supervisor Pat Grattan said of the resolutions, “One was a policy statement and one was more of a road map.”

According to an email from Robyn Reynolds, a representative from the Climate Smart Communities program, the town needs to send the DEC Office of Climate Change a copy of the resolution signed by the Town Clerk or notarized for the town to become a registered Climate Smart Community. The board did not say whether it planned to take that next step.

“Kinderhook took the initiative to pass these resolutions–members of CCL have been talking to lots of people and municipal representatives including those in both Kinderhook and Valatie about climate change and these resolutions, but these actions by Kinderhook were a pleasant surprise,” Jan Storm, a representative for CCL, wrote in an email to The Columbia Paper.

She also said that CCL will make sure that Congressman Chris Gibson (R-19th) knows that the town has recognized “the need to act on climate change and to support a rapid transition to clean energy.”

“We also intend to let those running to replace Congressman Gibson know that Kinderhook, along with other municipalities in Congressional District NY-19, support climate action at the local and national level, and are promising to take action themselves at the municipal level to become ‘climate smart’,” she wrote.

In an email after the meeting, Mr. Simonsen wrote, “I trust that all towns in Columbia County will follow the Town of Kinderhook in adopting the Cooperstown Resolution as well as the Climate Smart Community’s initiative. No threat to mankind poses as severe impact to the future as does climate change. To give our descendants a chance, all communities should adopt these resolutions and engage in recommendations contained therein.”

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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