Westminster passes on climate-protection vow

April 10, 2007|By Laura McCandlish | Laura McCandlish,sun reporter

The Westminster City Council passed a resolution last night promoting energy conservation to counter global warming but stopped short of endorsing a climate-protection pledge signed by leaders of more than 400 cities and towns.

Seven municipalities in Maryland have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which vows to work to reduce greenhouse gases - caused by humans - that scientists believe are gradually raising the earth's temperature. The agreement was designed to bypass President Bush's opposition to the international Kyoto Protocol, which took effect two years ago.

Westminster officials decided to draft a resolution on pollution, saying they did not want to commit to rigid requirements or make a political statement on an issue that has divided Democrats and Republicans.

"There are things we can do that save taxpayers money and have a positive impact on the environment, without getting into the politics," Westminster Mayor Thomas K. Ferguson said after the council meeting. "Anything we do to reduce our fuel usage is good for ... the city."

The town of Sykesville, also in Republican-dominated Carroll County, adopted the U.S. agreement in August with little controversy. Sykesville Mayor Jonathan Herman said that the town has created more green space and pedestrian-friendly renovations downtown over the past decade. The fuel consumed by commuting residents should also be reduced when the Warfield Complex redevelopment project is complete, Herman.

"Now it's become a political hot potato, when in fact it's really just housekeeping," Herman said. "This is stuff we've been doing for many years."

Environmentalists lobbied Westminster to join the Sierra Club's Cool Cities program by signing the U.S. agreement. Westminster resident Dan Andrews, with the Catoctin chapter of the Sierra Club, said he was disappointed the city did not sign the pact. But he added: "We have to take what we can get and go from there."

Andrews gave the City Council several packs of compact fluorescent light bulbs as a symbolic gift after the vote. They will be the first energy-saving fixtures installed in Westminster City Hall, officials said.

In addition to fuel conservation, the need for water conservation has garnered attention in Westminster, where a six-month building moratorium caused by a water shortage was just relaxed.

The local Sierra Club is also asking the Carroll County commissioners to adopt the U.S. agreement. The executives of two counties in Maryland - Anne Arundel and Howard - have signed the agreement.

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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