Climate task force begins work

 BAR HARBOR — The town of Bar Harbor declared a climate emergency in November of last year, one of a growing group of municipalities in the state to do so. Town officials declined to adopt the specific resolution presented by a group of student activists, instead appointing a task force to recommend action to the council for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The task force is meeting on the second and fourth Mondays of the month and has met four times so far. “Everybody on the committee is really engaged; it’s really fun,” said Brian Booher, who was elected chairman. 

An initial focus will be energy use in town buildings, schools and vehicles. “We hope to be able to start making discrete recommendations to council within the next budget cycle,” Booher said. 

“We are, of course, very aware of cost and the burden of cost. Iyou’re going to recommend something you want other people to pay foryou absolutely need to make sure that they think they’re getting good value for it.” 

The town has already made significant investments in recent years to reduce the use of fossil fuels. The new public works garage built in 2014 has a pellet boiler system and a solar array on the roof, which the town plans to purchase from installer ReVision Energy in 2022. The town also hosts a community solar farm on the roof of another Public Works building. Last year, conversion of 431 streetlights to LED bulbs was paid for with parking revenue. 

Booher noted that new technology and innovation are often beneficial, but they also carrrisks. The state-of-the-art keel cooler at the Port Security building, for example, had “continued maintenance issues” and is being replaced with a heat pump. 

“We’re very aware that new ways of doing things have their own risks,” he said. “Hopefully it’s a palatable risk.” 

Members of the task force are Booher, Norm Burdzell, Darron Collins, Jennifer Crandall, Jill Goldthwait (Town Council representative), Spencer Gray, Margaret Jeffries, Cornell Knight, Sirohi Kumar (youth representative; has voice but not vote because she is not a registered voter), Tobin Peacock and Tom St. Germain. 

Kumar is also involved with a Climate Emergency Action Coalition that is working to pass climate emergency declarations in other towns. In Mount Desert, the declaration was removed from the warrant for the recent Town Meeting because it needed additional public hearings. It does not include the creation of a task force. And “in our work to declare an emergency in Southwest Harbor, we have rejected the idea of creating a task force,” Kumar told the Islander. 



Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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