We must address climate change and reduce our carbon footprint before we doom future generations to a very uncertain future.
The first step is protecting and increasing our tree canopy and green spaces -- to combat air pollution, reduce energy consumption by countering the warming effects of paved surfaces in urban areas, and reduce soil erosion and polluted runoff.
It’s critically important that we continue to protect the county’s natural resources and parkland, both in the Agriculture Reserve and outside it. The Ag Reserve is Montgomery County’s greatest natural resource, preserving one-third of the county’s land so that it continues to be a place for farming and very low-density development.
The county must be able to anticipate and efficiently recover from storms and other natural disasters. Developing more microgrids, providing charging stations in public buildings, and installing more green roofs to absorb water are all important elements of a resiliency plan. But extreme weather events impact some communities more than others, and environmental justice requires that the county develop and implement strategies to address this fact. The need to achieve racial and economic equity should be a central strategy for building county-wide resilience.
I support an expansion of Maryland’s community solar program so that families can take advantage of the cost savings of solar without having to own their home or install equipment on their property. Montgomery County should look into creating its own community solar program using county property and buildings as locations for solar panels. Any financial benefits achieved could be dedicated toward energy assistance or energy efficiency programs for county residents.
I support shutting down the Dickerson trash incinerator, with health evaluations to protect workers in the interim.
Smart growth is another important aspect of reducing our carbon footprint. I support Transit Oriented Development (TOD) that locates higher intensity development near transit, with decreasing densities as distance from transit increases. Land use and zoning ordinances and regulations should be evaluated for their support of TOD and revised as needed.
Protecting our water supply in the face of development is critically important. The first step is having a plan in place before development begins, because damage control will be more expensive than proactive planning. Land use controls, especially restrictions targeting uses with the greatest potential to affect water sources, are appropriate and must be enforced.
Stormwater management is also crucial as the county continues to undergo further development. Addressing this issue is especially important in neighborhoods where high-density development has led to high rates of impervious coverage. GreenStreets and Rainscapes, two of the county’s new programs, help tackle the problems from increased runoff by improving stormwater management in residential areas.