Summit County is considering creating a group that would tell the county how it could be more environmentally sustainable as the planet continues to face the wide-ranging effects of climate change.

Creating the Summit County Environmental Sustainability Task Force would re-establish a “lapsed” task force, said Elizabeth Walters, an at-large Summit County Council representative and a sponsor of the legislation.

Walters said the group would look at the county’s internal practices and what could be done to address both sustainability efficiency and environmental protection.

According to the legislation, the county is aiming to reduce its energy consumption, decrease its dependence on fossil fuels and enact legislation preserving environmentally sound practices in the areas of energy, air quality, water, waste, transportation, facilities and development.

“With the changing climate happening all around us and the many ways we're seeing changes in weather and changes in our environment affect our residents, we feel it's important to start to tackle this issue responsibly at the county,” Walters said.

The task force, also called the Green Policy Task Force, would deliberate for six months before making recommendations to the county executive and council on practices, policies and legislation to ensure environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient construction, improvement, repair, management and operation of county-owned facilities; a more fuel efficient county vehicle fleet; and a more sustainable and environmentally sustainable food system in the county.

The members of the task force, appointed by the executive and confirmed by County Council, would include two County Council members; the directors of the county’s Department of Sanitary Sewer Services and Department of Administrative Services; the county engineer; and representatives from the Summit County Land Bank, Soil and Water Conservation District, ReWorks, Summit Metro Parks, Ohio EPA, the city of Akron, the Home Builders Association of Portage and Summit Counties, the Akron Cleveland Association of Realtors, the Greater Akron Chamber and local businesses.

The task force would also include a township trustee, a mayor of a city or village in the county other than Akron and up to five representatives of local nonprofit organizations or community activists committed to environmental sustainability and protection.

The legislation to create the task force received a first reading at Summit County Council’s June 24 meeting. The planning committee discussed it Monday, with additional readings and a vote scheduled for future meetings.

The discussion to establish the task force comes less than a week after a new United Nations report saying human-caused climate change is dramatically degrading the Earth’s land, and the way people use the land is making global warming worse, creating a vicious cycle that is already making food more expensive, scarcer and less nutritious, according to The Associated Press.

 

Contact Emily Mills at 330-996-3334, emills@thebeaconjournal.com and @EmilyMills818.