e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Plan Aims at Energy Independence for Adirondacks

ESF participates in regional climate action plan

By Kate Fish

The Adirondack Climate Action Plan (ADKCAP) was launched last year at a conference in Tupper Lake, N.Y. The conference, titled "American Response to Climate Change: The Adirondack Model - Using Climate Change Solutions to Restore a Rural American Economy," was hosted by the Wild Center and attended by nearly 200 leaders from the region. Attendees worked together to develop a set of recommendations that form the basis of the action plan.

ADKCAP is a strategy to enable the Adirondack region, comprising approximately 20 percent of the land area of New York state, to become energy independent within the next 20 years. Energy independence will focus on electric power generation and stationary fuels and could provide an economic boost for struggling local economies.

Annually, Adirondack people and institutions use more than 46 million gallons of fuel oil and liquid propane gas to heat buildings and water, and approximately 925 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for power and light. The cost of this energy is about $260 million per year for heating and electricity alone; this money leaves the region to purchase fuel produced elsewhere. Energy independence will be achieved through a combination of efficiency, hydroelectric power generation, wind, solar and geothermal, and the sustainable use of forest biomass.

The result will be considerable: It will put people to work. It will involve municipalities across the region as well as the universities and schools. It will engage the tourism industry, which caters to the estimated 9 million people per year who visit the park.

ADKCAP is driven by a partnership of more than 25 institutions in and around the Adirondack region, including SUNY- ESF, Energy $mart Park Initiative, St. Lawrence University, the state Department of Environmental Conservation Office of Climate Change, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Adirondack Park Agency (APA), Community Energy Services, Adirondack Economic Development Corporation, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Wild Center, Essex County Department of Planning and many others. Action Plan components are grounded in data verifiable through an Adirondack Park greenhouse gas emissions audit completed in March and sponsored by the Wild Center.

Six task force groups focus on buildings, renewable energy and biomass usage, forest and land management, transportation, municipalities, and tourism. Through their efforts, the ADKCAP partnership is establishing strategies to reduce carbon usage and create long-term economic improvements throughout the region. A management group coordinates steering committee meetings, fundraising, public outreach and communications through a web site/blog (see www.adkcap.org) and consultation.

The task force groups are refining the goals and objectives that came out of the conference and outlining the actions they will take in the next year to implement the action plan. ESF's Colin Beier is working with Dan Spada at APA to spearhead the Forest and Land Management Task Force. Stay tuned for more as the plan takes shape.