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Future Of Climate Plan Unknown

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CANTON — The fate of a climate action plan for St. Lawrence County is up in the air given some of the objections raised by county legislators who want to implement cost-saving energy measures regardless of whether they can agree on the big picture.
"I don't like the original plan. I want to take what's common sense and start from there," Legislator Mark H. Akins, R-Lisbon, said. "I like the idea of keeping things simple. I don't want to get bogged down in a plan that nobody understands."
Early last year, legislators asked the county's Planning Office to prepare a plan to address ways the county could reduce its carbon footprint. Legislators voted in July to table discussion of the 50-page plan until February while college students worked on cost/benefit analysis. Planner Jon R. Montan updated legislators on their efforts earlier this month, but lawmakers opted not to include their suggestions — which included voluntary car-pooling by employees, green office practices, computer-assisted trip routing and buying energy-efficient vehicles — into the plan.
Legislators who were opposed said they do not think the ideas have to be part of a climate action plan to be implemented.
"I am against the Climate Action Plan for what it proposes on environmental issues," Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, said. "I am not opposed to things the county can do to conserve energy."
Legislator Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid, said he disagrees with some of the premises in the Climate Action Plan and does not want cost-savings measures that he does support to become part of something he would likely vote against.
The report includes an introduction to climate-change science, sets a goal of limiting carbon-dioxide emissions and has an inventory of greenhouse gases produced by county operations. Mr. Acres does not favor some of the technologies noted in the plan such as solar arrays, which he said are inefficient.
Legislator Donald A. Peck, R-Gouverneur, said he was uncomfortable with some of the positions in the plan and that he feared its proposals could end up costing the county money rather than bring savings.
Part of the Climate Action Plan's purpose was to make the county eligible for grants, but legislators said it was not clear what kind of programs might be in the offing.
For some legislators, including the cost/benefit analysis in the Climate Action Plan was an unnecessary step.
"It was more a procedural decision. I'm not interested in just passing resolutions for resolution's sake," Legislator Daniel F. Parker said. "I absolutely welcome the Climate Action Plan coming off the table so we can discuss it. I haven't made up my mind whether I support it."
Legislator Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, said he preferred to pursue cost-savings measures individually rather than as part of a complex plan.
"I don't see why we have to approve all of those over-arching issues if all we're going to do is save energy," he said. "I guess I object to the notion we need to have a resolution in order to explore options. We could proceed with any kind of energy savings, and I'm kind of concerned we're not already doing that."
Legislators were divided on whether they thought it best to first revise the plan, see if there was enough support to even take it off the table before asking for revisions, or let it wither away.

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