Brian Pugh: Two Local Steps Forward on the Environment

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

Think global and act local has been a guiding principle for the environmental movement for decades. In keeping with this spirit, the Village of Croton adopted two environmental measures at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Trustees: 1) a local law to permit and regulate solar power generation systems and 2) an amendment to the master fee schedule to set a fine of $35 for vehicles idling in excess of three minutes (a violation of the County’s 2008 anti-idling law).

Solar power systems generate electricity without producing greenhouse gases or other air pollution while creating green-collar jobs for installers, and adding to property values for system owners. The local law adopted Monday incorporates solar regulations into the Zoning code and establish standards to empower citizens to use this important alternative energy source. Critically, it allows for and regulates non-rooftop based solar arrays, i.e.: ground-mounted systems and carport solar installations. I look forward to this new law encouraging further local investment in renewable power.

The Board also amended the master fee schedule to set a fine of $35 for violating the County’s anti-idling law. The County law limits the time any motor vehicle in Westchester County may idle to three minutes (while exempting, among others, electric vehicles, emergency vehicles and non-diesel vehicles operating in sub-freezing temperatures).

Discouraging idling, particularly during the summer is important, since automobiles are a major contributor to local air pollution. Westchester County has an F in air quality from the American Lung Association. Under the summer sun, tailpipe emissions sit and cook, worsening air quality and threatening public health-especially for sensitive groups such as people with heart and lung problems, the elderly and children.

Over the past two summers, the Village has sought to encourage compliance with Westchester County’s anti-idling law by educating the public through e-mail blasts, notices in the Village newsletter and by directing police to issue warnings to drivers caught idling. By adding a fine to our fee schedule, we empower our local police to collect a fine (equivalent to a parking ticket) for violating the County anti-idling law to further protect public health and our environment.

At the national level, we’ve seen a wrongheaded campaign driven by a mixture of self-interested industry actors and uninformed idealogues to reverse many hardwon environmental victories and deny the reality of critical environmental problems such as climate change. Our Village Board’s Democratic majority will continue, consistent with the interests and values of our community, to empower residents to take environmentally responsible steps and protect our local habitat.
Brian Pugh, Mayor

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