We are doing our part in Athens fighting climate change and transitioning to 100% renewable energy. We passed our 100% renewable energy resolution in June 2019 to transition to 100% green energy within the county government by 2035 and within the larger community by 2050. We committed $15.6 million to making that transition when we passed SPLOST 2020. Our local government is about to pass a new, greener building code for public projects. Now, a citizen committee is putting together a county-wide clean energy plan, expected to be voted on by the end of the year. From a ‘think globally, act locally” perspective, Athens is making strides in the battle against climate change.
But the fossil fuel industry is on the attack and unfortunately many state legislatures seem to be fighting on their side, including ours in Georgia. The American Gas Association is campaigning across the country to prohibit counties and municipalities from creating local legislation that would limit the use of natural gas. For communities committed to fighting climate change, this initiative prohibits local governments from taking step one in a transition to renewable energy, the electrification of its power sources. If your home appliances or cars run on electricity, then the source of that electricity can eventually be solar or wind—not a carbon-producing fossil fuel like gas.
It is understandable that the American Gas Association is promoting HB 150 in Georgia and about a dozen other states to keep local county governments from prohibiting fossil fuel hook-ups. They are concerned about the health of their industry and shareholder profits. But local counties and municipalities are concerned about the health and the environmental concerns of their residents. Local governments respond to local concerns and values. HB 150 limits local power to protect citizens and needs to be defeated. The vote on this bill is imminent. Please call our Athens state senators right away and tell them to vote NO on HB 150: Sen. Bill Cowsert, District 46, 404-463-1366, and Sen. Frank Ginn, District 47, 404-656-4700. The bill has already passed in the state House.
Myers is the Athens-Clarke County commissioner for District 8.
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