Cuyahoga County is at a turning point in developing a healthier environment. Currently, our communities are battling some of the worst environmental injustices including lead poisoning, poor air quality, algal blooms, and toxic waste sites, not to mention the failed recycling systems. However, we have the opportunity to build on current efforts and implement new, innovative systems so every community can experience a clean environment.

Some of the success we’ve seen in combating climate change over the past few decades in Cuyahoga County is due to our population decrease and the gradual switch to natural gas from coal in our energy consumption. So, yes we’ve made progress, though some of that is due to the quirks of a negative population growth, and not visionary planning. Nevertheless, one of the few areas in which County Executive Armond Budish has shown true leadership is in the area of environmental proposals and sustainability. Cuyahoga County government must take the lead on this issue in particular. In other facets of our county’s life, like economic development or education initiatives for example, other groups aid, or even lead, in terms of innovation,  but when it comes to protecting our environment and creating a sustainable future, if the county doesn’t lead, private market forces will not correct them.

Cuyahoga County ranked 9th worst in the nation in terms of air quality-related death and illnesses according to a 2016 study. The reality is that we our far too obsessed with cars in our county, and we must expand options for those who don’t want to use cars. And, climate change affects residents of our county in numerous ways including lengthened growing seasons for allergens and high rates of asthma amongst other factors.

In the final analysis, sustainability is a moral issue for our generation and for our county. What we leave behind for successive generations must drive our vision for a future Cuyahoga County in all facets of life. And, it is my committed belief that sustainable development does NOT need to be done at the expense of economic growth, but rather, in conjunction with it, as growth and sound environmental policies are interconnected today. The long term health of our county and our county’s residents and economy depends upon this.

  • Expand the NOACCA-piloted synchronized traffic lights
    • Reduces pollution
    • Limits idling times
    • Better flow of traffic
  • Give the county Office of Sustainability and its Director, Mike Foley, the resources they need to expand their programs
    • The Brooklyn solar farm is the greatest example of the work they’re doing, despite a dreadfully small staff, and exemplifies the fundamental fact that county land is OUR land, and despite FirstEnergy’s efforts to the contrary, we will continue these efforts
  • New codes for mixed-use, infill development
  • County government should prioritize and favor development deals that are done in close proximity to public transportation
  • A transit growth strategy and sustainable funding model for RTA
    • Connecting places, jobs and people
  • “Complete streets” model
    • New development projects should incorporate ideals like these
    • Dedicated bike lanes/expanded shoulders; more numerous street crossing paths; more sidewalks; greater and more accessible public transportation stops and pedestrian crossing signals; distinct bus lanes; etc.
    • Increasing access to multi-modal transportation methods will intrinsically reduce our carbon footprint
  • Icebreaker Wind, launched by Lake Erie Energy Development Corp (LEEDCo)
    • 6 wind turbines about 8 miles offshore in Lake Eire
    • Icebreaker claims it will “generate…enough (enough energy)  to power approximately 7,000 homes and bring nearly $200 mil.to our economy.”
    • If LEEDCo and the EPA are correct that this project will have little-to-no impact upon marine and bird life in/on Lake Erie, then this a positive step forward
  • Goal: increase the number of people using alternatives to automobiles
    • Targeted increase of those using RTA, bicycles, and even walking, over the next 5, 10, 20, and 30 years
  • Expand & promote energy audit programs for county residents
    • After the state legislature so kindly voted to let us bail out the energy companies, it’s only right that those companies help us make sure our homes are energy efficient
      • Reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and put more money into consumers hands via lower monthly bills
  • Green energy
    • Make this a priority for new developments
    • Increase access for county residents
    • “Virtual power plants”
      • Take any of the energy not used by municipal buildings and sell it to help fund low cost energy for lower income residents
      • Allow private solar users to do the same
  • Curbside compost pickup
    • Rust Belt Riders has been a leader in commercial composting and are pushing for a system of residential compost pickup like we do with our garbage and recyclables
  • Buses
    • Study, and implement as possible, the replacement of certain bus lines with modern streetcars
    • Further use of CNG (compressed natural gas) for buses, reducing emissions, saving many, and creating quieter buses
  • Get rid of Burke Lakefront Airport
    • Crucial if we’re to develop the type of multi-modal transportation system a thriving downtown needs
    • Repurpose some of the land as park space, trails, and a dedicated wetlands area
  • Adopt an Environmental Charter
    • Outline our commitment to sustainable policies with benchmarks we should aim for in the county over the next 30 years
      • goal of being fossil-fuel free by set date
      • increase use of renewable energy sources for new commercial enterprises and for those existing commercial buildings that are being renovated
      • commitment to monitoring our energy and water usage, air quality, industrial growth, promoting natural habitats, and transportation usage
  • Current Cuyahoga County government plans I support
    • Cuyahoga Greenways
      • 800 miles of greenways and urban trails
      • For non-motorized forms of transportation
    • City Tree replacement policy
    • Executive Budish’s call for countywide Climate Council that meets quarterly to set goals, researches, and educates