South Portland shows progress on climate action

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The city has surpassed its goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

During a City Council workshop Monday, Sustainability Coordinator Julie Rosenbach said emissions were reduced by 23 percent between 2007 and 2016, surpassing the goal of 17 percent. The 2007 data was inventoried in 2011, while the 2016 results are from the data gathered in 2014.

Rosenbach said the city signed onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, under then-Mayor Claude Morgan. Part of the agreement was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The city also adopted a municipal government Climate Action Plan, with 25 actions to take.  

Jessica Williams, chairwoman of the Energy & Recycling Committee, said the city has completed 23 of the 25 actions, including hiring Rosenbach as sustainability coordinator. Another recommendation was improving heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in city buildings.

Williams said some of the improvements made were upgrades to boilers and burners, and a switch to natural gas for fuel in some buildings.  

Rosenbach also said the city reduced its energy use by 3 percent.

“We are on the right track,” she said. “We are reducing our emissions, we are reducing our energy usage.”

Rosenbach said she is recommending that the council order a community-wide greenhouse gas emissions inventory, as well as a city-wide Climate Action Plan. Rosenbach will meet with the council in three months to discuss her proposals.

The Conservation Commission also met with councilors during Monday’s workshop.

The commission announced it will be holding a forum in April at South Portland High School to focus on five urban-impaired streams: Trout Brook, Barberry Creek, Kimball Creek, Red Brook and Long Creek.

Commissioners will use the meeting to tell residents about the watersheds of each stream and educate them about local water-quality initiatives. 

Commissioner Barbara Dee told the council that the commission will also recommend having the city redo its open space plan.

“The citizens deserve an open space plan, and I look forward to seeing it,” Mayor Patti Smith responded.

Smith also said the next workshop will take place at the Redbank Community Center on Feb. 13, when protections for renters will be discussed, along with designated areas for local food trucks.

The council’s next meeting is at City Hall on Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m., when councilors will vote to approve a contract with City Manager-designate Scott Morelli.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.