Protecting Our Water and Our Planet
On Day One as Executive, I will work to protect our children’s drinking water and our lakes, rivers, and streams, and I will lead the effort to chart a course toward full sustainability, measurably shrinking Oakland County’s carbon footprint. Flint taught us tragic and painful lessons about what happens when we neglect our precious water resource. We will learn the lessons of Flint to make sure our drinking water is safe for our children in school, at home, and for future generations. This starts with committing to replacing lead-based service pipes throughout Oakland County. We must provide affordable clean water and energy for all who need it and work towards preventing stormwater flooding. We must strive towards Energy Justice where all of us can equitably benefit from a low-emissions economy and where utility companies make a green investment in every community.
We now have a sitting president who denies the basic, irrefutable science of climate change. Thanks to his dangerous and reckless policies, after three years of decline, we saw carbon dioxide emissions rise sharply in the US last year. Our fragile environment won’t wait for a new administration. That’s why cities and counties around the country have developed and tracked their sustainability strategies.
Here in Michigan, Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties are among the counties that have enacted sustainability plans. In Oakland County, cities such as Farmington Hills, Auburn Hills, Rochester and Rochester Hills already have sustainability plans in place. Yet, Oakland County has been silent. I will establish a Sustainability office. This office will conduct an assessment of our Greenhouse gas emissions. It will establish a plan to support the development of green businesses, green jobs, and green job training. It will consult with all stakeholders, including labor unions and low-income communities, to facilitate the transition to net-zero greenhouse gases.
Oakland County can, and must, commit to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from county facilities and operations by 2030, and will establish a plan to accomplish this by increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy. We will work with other governments, utilities, businesses, and residents to achieve the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from all sources within the county by 2050. We will replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
Oakland County will be proactive in identifying toxic sites. We will advocate for sufficient funding to inspect and clean up these sites. Polluters will be held responsible for the cost.
I will establish Oakland County as a pollinator-friendly community. Our pollinators, including butterflies and bees, have suffered an enormous decline. The Monarch butterfly population has decreased by up to 90% in some areas over the past twenty years. Some of Michigan’s bee species have declined by more than 50% and other crucial pollinators have decreased by 40%. One-third of our food supply relies on pollinators. As County Executive, I will encourage every Mayor to take the “Mayor’s Monarch Pledge.” This pledge contains specific action items to combat this problem and asks municipalities to commit to at least some of the efforts. These include: planting pollinator-friendly gardens; converting abandoned properties into pollinator habitats; and promoting education and awareness of ways citizens can convert their gardens into pollinator habitats. I will also support efforts to replace non-native plants with native, pollinator-friendly plants around county-owned buildings and county parks. I will also gradually replace the grass along county roads with wildflowers and wild grasses. This will save mowing costs and help our pollinators. This is a problem that we can address in our own backyards!
Oakland County has an impressive park system. Many of our residents derive tremendous enjoyment from exploring and playing in our beautiful parks. As County Executive, I will increase the accessibility of these verdant places. I will create barrier-free access to the parks. This includes remodeling some of the forest cabins so that all of our us can enjoy sleeping in the woods. I will also work to make our trail systems more accessible.
Climate change is among the most pressing, serious, important challenges of our time. To best position Oakland County, our State and our world for the future, I will enact an aggressive, ambitious sustainability plan. My administration will clearly articulate these goals and track our progress against them. Scientists agree that we don’t have a moment to spare.