By Sandy Simon, CCL National Resolutions Project Coordinator
Support for carbon pricing is making major headlines lately: the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, and the U.S. Congress. But equally encouraging is the steady march of support building for carbon pricing in small towns, from local businesses, and among average citizens who want to address climate change.
The town of Penfield, New York, is a great example. Just last month, the Town Board voted to issue an endorsement letter in support of the Energy Innovation Act. They voted to issue a similar letter on June 3, 2019, and they voted on their first one in support of carbon fee and dividend back on May 9, 2018. The Town Board is made up entirely of Republicans, and all three votes were unanimous!
Seeking the first endorsement
When Allen Hibner, Penfield resident and a volunteer with the NY Rochester chapter, first aimed his sights on getting local government endorsements from the all-Republican Town Board of Penfield, he knew it would be a lengthy process. As it turned out, he was right.
Beginning in 2017, he and local BCL leader Robert Levine of Pittsford, NY, created an effective presentation on carbon fee and dividend. At the invitation of Penfield Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain, they gave their presentation at an Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee meeting. Thereafter, Supervisor LaFountain invited them to give the presentation to the full Town Board in mid-December. That began a four-month concerted effort to determine whether the full board would issue an endorsement letter.
Due to their successful strategy and the relationships these volunteers had forged, the board voted unanimously to issue a letter endorsement in support of carbon fee and dividend legislation on May 9, 2018. Volunteers in NY Rochester brought the letter to their members of Congress during CCL’s 2018 June lobby meetings, showing them the growing support for carbon pricing at home in the district.
Endorsing a specific carbon pricing bill
Allen went on to request and receive another endorsement letter, this time in support of the Energy Innovation Act of 2019 (H.R. 763), which was signed by Supervisor LaFountain on behalf of all of the board members on June 3, 2019, and the letter was provided once again to all NY Rochester members of Congress during CCL’s 2019 June lobby meetings. This letter, in particular, was very helpful in influencing Rep. Joe Morelle (NY-25) to become the 57th cosponsor of H.R.763 in the summer of 2019.
After those two extremely successful efforts, Allen once again engaged with the all-Republican Town Board when the Energy Innovation Act of 2021 was reintroduced this year, requesting that they issue a letter in support of H.R. 2307. That goal was achieved on June 17, 2021, when the Town of Penfield once again unanimously voted to endorse the bill. The Town Board continues to support this policy because it “did not increase energy costs to low- and moderate-income households in Penfield and across the nation,” Allen says.
Support from a sustainability-conscious town
Allen and Robert were fortunate to have had a climate champion in Supervisor LaFountain who has been very supportive of sustainability efforts in the Town of Penfield for many years. One of Supervisor LaFountain’s accomplishments has been the construction of a five-acre solar farm built on the town’s Department of Public Works property, which saves Penfield money each year in the cost of providing electricity to their recreation center, library, town hall and Department of Public Works. The Town of Penfield also installed the first EV municipal charging stations in their Rochester regional area.
CCL volunteer Allen Hibner has been aware for years that the first priority of the Penfield Town Board has always been to lower energy consumption and costs to Penfield taxpayers. Secondarily, their focus has been on environmental sustainability.
Allen states, “The really good news here is that the core of carbon fee and dividend and the Energy Innovation Act dovetails perfectly with both of these expressed conservative values. When ‘first do no harm financially’ is coupled next with the very strong conservative value of preserving the environment, you have a winning combination for sure.”
Congratulations to the NY Rochester chapter and to CCL volunteers Allen Hibner and Robert Levine for their outstanding accomplishments!
Sandy Simon is CCL’s National Resolutions Project Coordinator. You can write to her about municipal, county, state, tribal and higher ed resolutions at gro.e1643234470tamil1643234470csnez1643234470itic@1643234470snoit1643234470ulose1643234470r1643234470 or gro.e1643234470tamil1643234470csnez1643234470itic@1643234470ydnas1643234470.
For information on how to plan and pass a local government resolution, visit the “Engaging City & Local Governments For Resolutions” page on Community. For a list of municipal and county Energy Innovation Act resolutions passed to date, visit the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Local Governments page.