Jackson passes climate change resolution
The Jackson County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution last week that’s likely the first of its kind for the far western counties — a resolution declaring the reality of global climate change and Jackson County’s commitment to leading by example when it comes to energy conservation.
“We may be just one little small part of the overall puzzle, but you got to start somewhere,” said Commission Chairman Brian McMahan, who introduced the resolution.
McMahan sees the resolution as more than just a sheet of environmental platitudes. As the county commission starts thinking about the 2016-17 budget, he wants to see climate considered as a key factor in spending decisions.
For one, he’d like to finish work on the Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro, which captures methane from the old town landfill to fuel a variety of artist studios.
“There’s a whole bunch of stuff we can do to add to the green energy components,” McMahan said. “Not just methane gas, but add solar electricity to that whole park.”
He’d also like to bring alternative energy to other county buildings, installing charging stations for electric vehicles and possibly purchasing some electric vehicles for county use.
“I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be doing that,” he said. “The cost of those vehicles has been coming down significantly over the years, and it just makes sense to try to lead by example.”
Energy-efficient construction in new buildings is another place McMahan believes the county could make a pro-environment difference. For instance, commissioners are currently discussing building new animal shelter and health department buildings at some point in the not-too-distant future — “we want to make sure we’re doing those in a way we’re using environmental technology to keep down heating and cooling costs,” McMahan said.
In the scheme of populations and operations contributing to air pollution, Jackson County accounts for only a very small portion. But, McMahan said, “a small difference is still a difference,” and he would like to leverage Jackson’s example to encourage other, larger, populations to take action as well. He’s hoping that, as a member of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners’ environmental steering committee, he might be able to do just that.
“I’m hoping to get to go to their next meeting at the end of October and help steer some of the discussion about the environment and see if this is what’s happening in other counties and encourage other counties to take a similar action,” he said.