POV: Making Albany County greener

The writer is the Albany County Executive.

Although it’s been cold and snowy in Albany County, I have been working this past year to come up with a plan to make our county a “green” leader in sustainability and energy efficiency.

We made history recently when I signed legislation that bans the use of polystyrene for chain restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide. The ban is critical as we consider how to work together to eliminate hazardous waste and reduce the waste stream. Albany County is just one of three municipalities in New York to ban polystyrene. New York City just ratified a similar law recently, which shows that this issue is not merely a regional one, but one that can be adapted in other places.

While the ban is important, I wanted to convey that this is just one way we are working to green Albany County. I am also working to implement a countywide sustainability policy that will ensure that green initiatives inform all our decision-making, from capital projects, to purchasing to government vehicles.

That is why I will seek to establish an Albany County Public Service Agency. It is through this means that the county will work to expand renewable and sustainable energy options for the county and working with the county Industrial Development Agency to enhance our economic development efforts.      

First, I will appoint a commission to find a viable option for long-term, environmentally sound and economical waste disposal. The commission will begin its work by reviewing the Regional Solid Waste Authority Feasibility Study which was issued in 2011. The recommendations in that study should prove helpful to leaders in the region who are planning for the future. The key is working with local governments as partners to develop long-term strategies to help the region plan for future solid waste management needs.

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