To the Editor:
In January 2020, the Plymouth City Council voted 4-3 against joining the voluntary GreenStep Cities program offered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and eight other partner agencies.
Over 140 Minnesota cities are now participating in the program. Almost 50% of the state’s population lives in a GreenStep City. The program is voluntary and has demonstrated bipartisan support among city officials and state legislators. It is hard to imagine that such a vast population has adopted this program for a better future unless they saw the benefits associated with it. These cities cover a range across the political spectrum, meaning acceptance is not at the whim of politicians.
It is a free, continuous improvement program. The City of Plymouth has nothing to lose. Of the 29 different programs covering 182 activities, most will lead to jobs creation and increased tax revenues. Over time, savings in energy and potentially lower taxes will result. Bottom line – this initiative is a boon for businesses such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.
If, as the council claims, enough work is being done already, then the argument that there will be additional pressure on the staff does not hold. If, on the other hand, the numbers are not big enough, are we doing enough for the environment? One metro city’s coordinator of this program told me some staff time is involved, but it also helps staff with a road map and resources for achieving sustainability goals. Most astounding is the fact that the Renewable Energy category is still untouched by anything Plymouth has done to date. The program offers ready-made models and information for each action, leaving the staff with less work to implement any given step. The city’s Environmental Quality Commission recommended that the city join the program.
The program is not one that will burden taxpayers. Three of the four council members who voted against the program are up for reelection in 2022. The elected need to listen to their constituents, and vote yes for the GreenStep Cities program. It is good for the city, its citizens and the environment.