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Vote for the Environment

Vote for the Environment

The Montgomery County Council declared a Climate Emergency in December…

… but in May declined to budget a modest $70,000 toward meeting our climate commitment. That won't do. Climate change is a global challenge, and we need to get serious locally, fast. Please vote for the environment when you vote in this month's primary.

In December, the Council committed to "transform the climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2027 and reaching 100% elimination by 2035." It's an ambitious goal – and could generate very significant economic benefit – but we need to get moving. The nonfunded $70,000 would have paid for a Director of Climate Emergency Mobilization as a first step toward establishment of a Climate Emergency Office and steps beyond.

The Council's December resolution was prompted by local activism, by the Montgomery County chapter of The Climate Mobilization (MOCOTCM). (I'm grateful for MOCOTCM's endorsement of my campaign for Montgomery County Council, at large, recognizing my pro-environment positions and accomplishments as a Takoma Park Councilmember.)

Local advocacy matters, especially with the EPA in Scott Pruitt's thieving hands and Governor Hogan running state government. As my friend and neighbor Betsy Taylor, chair of 350 Action, puts it, "Montgomery County has a rich history of environmental activism, from those protecting our farmland and tree canopy to others promoting clean energy. Citizen engagement on these issues has been and always will be essential."

It's citizen engagement that protected the Ten Mile Creek watershed and won Montgomery County's lawncare pesticide ban and polystyrene food serviceware ban, and that will lead to our closing the Dickerson incinerator and the County's coal-fired generating station.

Which candidates do you trust to accelerate pro-environment policy-making and County investment? To enact clean-energy and zero-waste policies that respond to the climate emergency and live up to our commitment?

Burning trash is dirty. Adoption of zero-waste policies is a necessary step toward closing the Dickerson incinerator, which send 200,000 tons of ash to landfill each year. We need to reduce waste via food recovery, high recycling rates, and elimination of single-use plastic food-service materials among other steps. No need for delay: organizations such as the Food Council have been pushing forward education and action campaigns. Locally, Takoma Park pioneered curbside food-waste collection for composting. We should move quickly to a county-scale program with phase-in of a requirement that all food serviceware disposables be compostable.

Energy conservation and 100% clean energy are parts of the equation: solar and wind power, net-zero building standards and energy-efficiency retrofitting, a move to electric vehicles, and transit expansion. Smart roadways will add capacity to our existing road network and will speed trips and reduce emissions.

And let’s reintroduce pension-fund divestment from fossil fuels and work with state legislators to pass new renewable energy portfolio standards.

You can count on me to respond. I'll link you to my environment position and close by quoting climate champion Mike Tidwell: "Seth understands environmental challenges, and he knows how to make local government work. This is why I’m backing Seth for Montgomery County Council at large." Will you join Mike in supporting me?

Please vote for the environment in this month's primary.

Earth Day + 1 – Local Action to Combat Climate Change

Earth Day + 1 – Local Action to Combat Climate Change

Earth Day 2018 was yesterday, April 22, but the fight against climate change can’t be a once-a-year thing.

Did you know that President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the same year as the first Earth Day? Yet with Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt undoing environmental protections, we’re back in an era of dirty politics, literally.

Activism and state and local action are needed, now more than ever.

Task #1 is to defeat Governor Hogan in November. It’s outrageous, for instance, that Hogan last year rescinded Maryland’s “zero-waste” goal and mandatory-recycling targets. Until November, and after, Montgomery County can and should lead the way.

Last December, the County Council declared a Climate Emergency with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035. That’s good! The Council is taking a next step, creating a new Climate Policy Director post. (As a Takoma Park Councilmember, I supported hiring an Environmental Sustainability Manager in 2014, and I know the impact that dedicated staff can have on environmental education, planning, and programming.) Zoning Text Amendment 18-01, introduced by Councilmember Tom Hucker, will allow solar generation of up to 2 megawatts of electricity at a site, enough for 200 typical residential homes, equal to removing 310 passenger cars from the road. Excellent… noting however a need for ZTA modifications to respond to Ag Reserve concerns.

The choices the next County Council makes will leave a profound mark on our environment. A number of points are especially critical:

  • We must move to 100% green energy — solar and also wind and geothermal — via net-zero commercial and residential building standards, retrofitting, and rapid transition to electric vehicles, with the charging facilities to support them.
  • Let’s stop burning our trash. Via waste reduction and waste recovery, we can shut down the Dickerson incinerator without simply sending our trash to landfill. The County should push for much-higher recycling participation and move toward broad organics (food-waste) composting and away from single-use plastics, and we should explore technologies for atmospheric-carbon drawdown.
  • Let’s preserve and restore our watersheds, expand our parks, plant trees, make wise transit and development decisions, and improve walkability and cycling infrastructure.

We know how to do these things. For instance, the City of Takoma Park has provided curbside food-waste collection to all single-family homes since 2014. Takoma Park bans disposable single-use plastic bags and has considered a requirement (like San Francisco’s) that food-service establishments use only compostable disposables and collect all disposables and food waste for composting.

Actually, the County has been taking sensible environmental steps for a decade — I count a variety of January 2009 Montgomery County Climate Protection Plan recommendations that have been realized — but the challenge remains daunting. For each success like the creation of a Green Bank to finance energy efficiency projects, there are a dozen unrealized ideas on the table, and we have faced defeats such as a court ruling overturning the County’s Healthy Lawns Act, which banned nonessential pesticide use.

Today is Earth Day + 1. I’m dedicated to making every day Earth Day, via local action to combat climate change and protect the environment. Are you on board?

A message to Montgomery County pesticide ban supporters

A message to Montgomery County pesticide ban supporters

A letter to supporters of Montgomery County Bill 52-14, the Healthy Lawns Act banning cosmetic lawncare pesticide use, from Catherine Cummings and Julie Taddeo, co-founders of Safe Grow Montgomery (named for identification only) –

In October 2011, out of concern for our families’ health and for the environment, we raised the idea of a Takoma Park lawncare pesticide ban. Seth Grimes, a candidate for City Council, responded. Seth was elected and helped us turn our idea into city law. Then, when we joined with parents, activists, and environmentalists around Montgomery County, he answered our call a second time and helped pass the County’s ban.

Seth is running for Montgomery County Council, and he needs our help. He is the sort of responsive, experienced, progressive leader our County needs, now more than ever.

Three years ago, you contacted the council in support of our pesticide bill. Will you step forward again and join us in supporting Seth’s campaign?

Learn more about Seth’s record at sethgrimes.org – his work with Shepherd’s Table and in county social services, to pass a living wage bill, in defense of immigrant rights. One of his signature issues is early childhood education. Seth gets Montgomery County’s needs. Please join us in supporting Seth Grimes for County Council.

(Seth is running for one of four at-large council seats; you may vote for four at-large candidates total.)

Please reply to this message if you’d like campaign updates or to help. And your campaign contribution will help Seth compete: sethgrimes.org/donate.It’s a big county. Your support will help us elect a visionary environmental leader to the Montgomery County Council.

Thank you so much!

Julie Taddeo and Catherine Cummings

P.S. Seth is proud to have won environmentalist endorsements from Mike Tidwell (Chesapeake Climate Action Network), Brenda Platt (Institute for Local Self Reliance), and Bob Bingaman (Sierra Club). (Affiliations are listed for identification only.)

“Seth has the skills, knowledge, contacts, and vision we need in county leaders”

“Seth has the skills, knowledge, contacts, and vision we need in county leaders”

I’m gratified to have the support of Takoma Park community leaders Diana and Howard Kohn.

“Dozens of candidates are running for office in 2018. Seth Grimes – a former Takoma Park councilmember, an environmental champion, and an accomplished community advocate – rises to the top in the race for Montgomery County Council, at large.”

The Kohns’ full letter…