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ICLEI once again on Roanoke County agenda

January 27, 2014

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

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:

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. 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.

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


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