On Tuesday, January 28, 2014 the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors will once again (for the third time in two years) examine the $1,200 expenditure for membership in ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability, a membership that enables the use of software to measure, track and plan the reduction of municipal and community greenhouse gas emissions. In addition the membership allows the county to easily network with hundreds of other communities in the U.S. and elsewhere that are members of ICLEI.
The tea party and other groups with ties to the fossil fuel industry have targeted ICLEI membership in the past few years, spinning tales of vast United Nations conspiracies such as this bizarre statement on the John Birch Society’s website: “ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. Agenda 21 seeks for the government to curtail your freedom to travel as you please, own a gas-powered car, live in suburbs or rural areas, and raise a family. Furthermore, it would eliminate your private property rights through eminent domain. Agenda 21 can be stopped at the local level by organizing and informing others to encourage local government officials to end their community’s membership in ICLEI and to repeal any of the Agenda 21-related ‘sustainable development’ laws and ordinances they have enacted.”
In reality, Agenda 21 was part of the Rio de Janeiro Summit in the 1992, where 178 nations, including the United States, voted in favor of an entirely voluntary program for sustainable development in the 21st century.
You can send a letter to the entire Roanoke County Board of Supervisors using this email address bos@RoanokeCountyVA.gov
Below is the letter sent on behalf of the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition:
January 26, 2014
Dear Roanoke County Supervisors,
I am writing on behalf of the 273 affiliates (businesses, individuals, and organizations representing over 25,000 citizens) of the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition, most of whom live, work or do business in Roanoke County. See a complete listing here: http://rvccc.org/affiliates/.
We are dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy conservation, energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable energy.
I urge you to support the fine work of RC CLEAR and to continue the county’s inexpensive membership in ICLEI, a membership that allows the county to easily measure its own efforts and to benchmark those efforts against other localities in Virginia and across the country.
Using less energy means burning less coal, diesel and gasoline, producing cleaner air and cleaner water for the Roanoke region.
It is disappointing to see that, for the third time in 2 years, the County is revisiting a very small expenditure of funds for a software vendor, especially when that same vendor is in wide use in Virginia, including the nearby localities of Harrisonburg, Abingdon, Blacksburg and the City of Roanoke.
In the scientific community, human-caused climate change is not a “belief” that requires a leap of faith. It is a demonstrable fact accepted by over 97 percent of climate scientists. Just as state and local health departments rely on the germ theory of disease to deal with influenza and other transmittable diseases, climate scientists rely on their studies to understand the causes and likely effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions on the earth’s atmosphere.
Will the questioning of “beliefs” held by county staff and community volunteers extend beyond established science into other areas such as political preferences and religion? This seems like dangerous territory indeed.
RC CLEAR’s work focuses on ENERGY CONSERVATION and ENERGY EFFICIENCY, both in local government and for local citizens and organizations. This can be seen very clearly on the award-winning Save a Ton website, which provides tools for citizens to measure their energy savings and dollar rewards for conservation and efficiency. http://saveaton.org/ Save a Ton is collaboration among four local governments (Roanoke County, City of Salem, City of Roanoke, Town of Blacksburg) and local businesses and organizations.
A recent Virginia Tech survey showed that Roanoke Valley residents have two overwhelmingly important priorities for the region: economic development/jobs (92%) AND clean water/clean air (85%). They want both, as do many businesses that visit the region with plans for potential creation of new jobs.
Air pollution and water pollution present serious threats for our region:
- Current threats to human health (especially asthma and heart disease)
- Potential threats to economic development (such as the decision by Sierra Nevada not to locate here)
- Ongoing threats to the joy of living in such a beautiful area (poor air quality days, warnings not to consume fish caught in local rivers, streams and lakes).
It is so encouraging when local citizens use their precious time to help the county and their fellow citizens. And it is equally disappointing to see ideological extremists make harsh and undeserved attacks on the members of RC CLEAR, a volunteer committee appointed by unanimous vote of the county supervisors.
Members of RC CLEAR have given hundreds of hours to help the county and its citizens, and the only thanks they can hope for is the feeling of a job well done and appreciated. Extremist critics offer no constructive advice, simply a chorus of negative opinions and bizarre conspiracy theories manufactured by sources like the witch-hunting John Birch Society, a remnant of the 1950s McCarthy era. http://www.jbs.org/issues-pages/stop-agenda-21
It seems likely that success in attacking RC CLEAR and ICLEI would only besmirch the region’s reputation as a desirable place to live and work while emboldening these “patriots” to attack something else.
Who is writing such extremist messages to encourage the waste of energy, and who can possibly benefit? Certainly not local homeowners and businesses.
Dr. Diana Christopulos, President
Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition
907 Greenbrier Court, Salem, VA 24153
Political, Environmental, Business leaders will urge action on Climate Change at Grandin Village event
What: Climate Action Rally in the Roanoke Valley
When: Wednesday, August 28, noon
Where: Amphitheater at Virginia Heights Baptist Church (next to Roanoke Natural Foods Coop at Grandin & Memorial, Roanoke)
Who: This event is sponsored by Environment Virginia, with additional sponsorship by Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition and Organizing for Action. See flyer below for confirmed speakers as of this date
Why: We need action now on climate change, both to reduce carbon pollution that is causing the earth’s temperature to rise and to mitigate the effects of climate change that we are already experiencing
Click the link below to access a flyer that can be printed or distributed by email
Pictured (L to R): Mark McClain, Dan Crawford, Sen. John Edwards, Diana Christopulos
Rupert Cutler, Freeda Cathcart
Cool Cities president Diana Christopulos and director Mark McClain were on hand when local Sierra Club Chair Dan Crawford presented the award (made from recycled glass). They were also joined by legendary environmental advocate and former Roanoke City Councilman Rupert Cutler, and political and environmental activist Freeda Cathcart, a Sierra Club-endorsed candidate for Virginia’s House of Delegates. Meeting with Sen. Edwards in his Roanoke office, the group enjoyed a genial visit with this veteran legislator, who has been a steadfast supporter of good environmental policy. The Sierra Club distributed the following announcement to media statewide:
July 3, 2013 (Richmond, VA):
Richmond, VA — For the first time, the Virginia Chapter Sierra Club voted to recognize members of the General Assembly with awards lauding their work in the Legislature. The Chapter’s Legislative Committee voted unanimously to honor Senator John Edwards with the Legislator of the Year Award to recognize his outstanding public service.
On receiving his award on July 3, Senator Edwards offered the following quote, “I am honored to receive this award from the Sierra Club, an organization I admire. Like the Sierra Club, I am interested in developing clean energy, improving the environment, protecting our outdoors and preserving our natural heritage.”
The Senator from Roanoke is receiving the Legislator of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding record of public service and commitment to his constituents and welfare of our Commonwealth. In addition to the leadership he has provided over the years on the Commerce and Labor Committee, in 2013 Senator Edwards patroned a bill that allows customers of Dominion Virginia Power to install solar projects as large as 1 megawatt using a power purchase agreement (PPA) financed by private companies. The law’s significance cannot be understated, as the PPA model has been the driver for most solar projects around the country in recent years, making solar energy available with low risk and minimal upfront cost.
“Senator John Edwards has been an unfailing friend to the environment and to the citizens of Southwest Virginia. His intelligence, combined with curiosity and courage, make him a real champion for the entire state,” said Dr. Diana Christopulos, a dedicated Sierra Club member.
Hampton Roads, already judged to be the second most at-risk area in the US for rising seas, now faces some of the first consequences: dramatically increased insurance costs for homeowners, if they can get insurance.
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science recently published a study about the effects of recurrent flooding from sea level rise. Commissioned by the General Assembly, the study confirmed that Virginia’s coastal communities should plan for water levels to increase by at least a foot and a half in our lifetime.
Hampton Roads localities are scrambling to address the issue, which currently leaves local governments on the hook for flooding of coastal sprawl development.
A New York Times report in late 2012 showed that inaction on climate change would produce permanent flooding in 39% of Newport News, 99% of Virginia Beach, and 100% of Norfolk.
A bus has been chartered to transport local residents to the February 17 Climate Rally (details in previous post, below). Cost for the round trip is only $37.92. CLICK HERE to be transported to the signup page for bus reservations.
If you have been thinking about going to the Climate Rally (Feb. 17, Washington DC) but reluctant to drive up there on your own, you’re in luck! The Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club has two buses going from Charlottesville, which will save you half the driving and nearly all the aggravation, The first bus is already filled, but there are seats available on bus #2. Cost is only $26 for adults, $10 for students. For all the details, review the fact sheet:
Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition is a supporting partner of what we expect will be the biggest rally in history for action on climate change. We hope that many of our affiliate members will plan to be there. Here are details:
WHAT – Supporters for action on climate change will gather in our nations capital. There will be a rally with high profile speakers and entertainment, followed by a march to the White House and returning to the National Mall for more entertainment and camaraderie.
WHERE – The rally will be staged near the Washington Monument at Constitution Ave. & 15 St.
WHEN – Sunday, February 17 (Presidents Day week end) – rally starts at 12:00 noon – plan to be there by 11:30 or earlier to get a good spot.
WHO – Dozens of organizations are partners in this event. For a list of all of them, see
forwardonclimate.org (click the PARTNERS menu item)
RSVP - Visit the rally web site forwardonclimate.org and fill out a brief form to register. Volunteers are needed, and you can indicate that from the same page. Look for other details and news on the Cool Cities Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/47868112541/
Driving - It is STRONGLY recommended that you park your car in one of the outlying Metro stations (Vienna is right on I-66). Take the metro to Metro Center station and walk a few blocks to the rally.
Public Transportation - Amtrak (from Lynchburg), Megabus (from Christiansburg), Greyhound (from Roanoke) and United Airlines have direct service to Washington. Unless you fly, you should plan to come up the day before. The Rally web site forwardonclimate.org has information on finding lodging in Washington.
Charter Bus – at this time, there are no plans for a charter bus from this area, but the event web site will post any that emerge.