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North Country sustainability plan considers environment, economy

Sarah Harris

The North Country Sustainability Plan was unveiled last week. It tackles energy, land use, transportation and water and waste management across seven counties.The Adirondack North Country Association, Ecology and Environment Inc., and Essex County spent much of the past year compiling the plan. They enlisted the help of another 200 people from around the region for the working groups.

The result is a huge document that analyzes resource management and job growth across the North Country.

It also includes an assessment of regional energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan’s authors found that 94 percent of energy generated in the North Country comes from renewable sources, like hydropower and wind. But the region only consumes 31 percent of that energy – the balance is exported.

Transportation, and the long distances people have to drive, account for 40 percent of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Putting all that data together – I think it helps to give us a roadmap for the future,” said Kate Fish, head of the Adirondack North Country Association. “How do we dramatically decrease our energy and therefore our cost; how do we build businesses around these sorts of ideas?”

The sustainability plan also makes the case for increased biomass fuel in the region.

Gerry Delaney is a corrections officer and chairs the Adirondack Park local government review board. He believes biomass production could really work in the Adirondacks.

“Our traditional job generator was our resources,” Delaney said. “If we can get back to where we can use some of those resources locally, perhaps that would be a basis for job growth and stem the tide of our people leaving the region. And also it’ll be cheaper to live inside the park than somewhere else where you have to buy fuel oil.”

The plan was funded by NYSERDA. Kate Fish says money for implementing the projects will come from the Cleaner Greener Communities Program and other state sources.

The plan is open for public comment until February 1 and will be presented to NYSERDA in March. 

North Country Public Radio/Champlain Valley reporter for the Innovation Trail
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