Amherst climate change panel needs more time for residents’ input


Staff Writer
Friday, August 09, 2019

AMHERST — Almost three months into its work, a committee focused on climate change is gaining an understanding of how Amherst might be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the effects of a warming planet.

But the nine-member Energy and Climate Action Committee, which began meeting in May, is expected to request an extension of the three-month deadline by which it was supposed to make initial recommendations to the Town Council — in part so the committee can get full input from the community, especially students and youth.

District 5 Councilor Darcy DuMont said Wednesday that she anticipates the committee, of which she is a member, making a request at the council’s Aug. 19 meeting to delay its preliminary goals and objectives. She said she is unsure how long an extension may be needed.

Any delay, she said, would be long enough to do outreach and have one or two forums where the public can offer input and ask questions.

The committee, approved by the Town Council in February, was charged with guiding the town in “meeting its climate mitigation and resilience goals” and was ordered to return within 90 days with proposed target dates to accomplish 100 percent renewable energy. Then the council was to have 90 days to act on the recommendations.

DuMont said she is unsure whether the committee will recommend the town use 100 percent renewables or seek to become carbon neutral. There are also questions about whether to have specific target dates by which any goals will be accomplished, or whether it would be wise to set intermediate dates.

Included in the committee’s charge is recommending climate action goals that focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience for the town’s residential, commercial and municipal sectors.

DuMont said she is pleased with the committee work done so far, which has included members looking at goals set by other cities and towns in Massachusetts and across the country.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.