Montgomery County’s Climate Change Hypocrites
When it comes to climate change grandstanding, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and the County Council will concede first place to no one.
Two years ago, the Council passed a resolution designating an “Emergency Climate Mobilization.” According to the Council, theirs was one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to do so. Their “mobilization plan” set the goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 80% by the year 2027 and by 100% by 2035.
More recently Elrich announced plans to introduce a “Sun Tax” starting in 2022. He wants to require all new single-family houses, and possibly apartments and commercial buildings, to include rooftop solar panels. The mandate would add an extra $12,000 to the cost of each new home constructed in the county. If Elrich’s measure is approved, Montgomery County could be the first major jurisdiction outside California with such a requirement.[i]
Earlier in September, Elrich asked Montgomery County Public School Superintendent Jack Smith to let students get an excused absence to attend the large Washington DC climate rally. (No doubt the County Executive’s support for student activism did not extend to excused absences for students protesting his sanctuary county policy.)
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Despite these public relations initiatives, environmental activists have been very critical of the County’s progress. A “Climate Report Scorecard” compiled by four local environmental groups concluded that their effort so far deserved a grade of 32 out of 100, or poor.[ii]
Commenting on the progress made since the “Emergency Climate Mobilization” was passed, climate scientist Danielle Meitiv told a recent rally attended by the County Executive: “It’s been two years, and what have we accomplished? Nothing! Does that sound like an emergency response to you?”[iii]
To better understand the huge, yawning gap between climate change rhetoric and actual practice, Meitiv and the other activists present needed to look no farther than the “Elrichmobile” outside their event. For his own, personal transportation, Elrich relies on a $65,000 Chevy Suburban with an average 15 miles per gallon fuel efficiency. (Or perhaps better put, fuel inefficiency).
In order to walk the walk, rather than just talk the talk, Elrich could follow the example of Michael Dukakis. While Massachusetts Governor, he commuted on the state’s Green Line between his Brookline home and the State House in Boston. For the County Executive, this would mean giving up his 26 minute Beltway and I-270 car trip from his Takoma Park home to the Executive Office building in Rockville. Instead, he could use public transit. This could involve an hour and seventeen-minute trip using RideOn’s 16 bus and a transfer to the Q4 in Silver Spring. Round trip this commute would add about two miles a day of healthy walking. Alternatively, he could take a short bus ride to the Takoma Park Metro Station followed by a Red Line trip of just under an hour to Rockville via Union Station in Washington.
In a gesture that Ride On dependent users might have regarded as slumming it, this past June five members of the County Council agreed to participate in a “Transit Challenge.” They committed to either walking or using public transportation like Ride On or Metro to get wherever they need to go for a week. That’s right, a WHOLE WEEK!
Councilmember Will Jawando fulfilled his “Transit Challenge” commitment by “car-pooling.” Instead of using public transit, his Chief of Staff picked him up in her car. Fortunately, Jawando was not doing the driving. The same month he was ticketed by Montgomery County Police for driving without a current license.[iv] However using Jawando’s logic, every chauffeured limousine liberal can virtue signal their ride as just “carpooling.”
Whether a 15 mile per gallon SUV, Montgomery County or a single week of public transit ridership, their so-called “Emergency Climate Mobilization” apparently does not apply personally to the county’s politicians.