That aftermost affiance was fabricated in 2017. As voters — and as leaders of two of the better ecology groups in Montgomery — our expectations were sky-high.
But it is now 2021, and the canton is active out of time to essentially abate greenhouse gas emissions while acclamation ancestral disinterestedness issues that disproportionately affect communities of blush and low-income communities on altitude change.
Thankfully, a bill now afore the board can assuredly get the brawl rolling. It would acquiesce a bound bulk of farmland to be acclimated to autumn sunlight in the county’s appointed “Agricultural Reserve.” Solar console assembly would be capped at no added than 2 percent of the reserve’s acreage — and best of the ability would be broadcast to low- and moderate-income households. This bill has the wonky name of ZTA 20-01 and has been put advanced by board affiliate Hans Riemer (D-At large) with abutment from board admiral Tom Hucker (D-Silver Spring) and Evan Glass (D-At Large).
The bill is appropriate on time because the county’s own abstract Altitude Action Plan, appear in December, makes bright that “decarbonizing” the electrical filigree is the best important affair the canton can do.
Thankfully the solar ZTA 20-01, afterwards all-encompassing altercation and deliberation, has been accustomed alert by a appropriate collective board of the canton board by advanced margins. It has additionally gone through a action of appraisal by a assignment force of assorted constituencies. It is now time for the board to act and canyon this legislation with no abrasion amendments. The vote is Tuesday.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? But weirdly, annihilation about angry altitude change has appear easy, alike in this best advanced and environmentally chest-beating of counties in the D.C. region.
This bashful and anxiously crafted legislation — already absorption accommodation amid farmers, environmentalists, solar companies and accepted citizens — is against by some critics who adorn the Ag Assets as some array of Jeffersonian ideal of acreage utopia. They say the rules of the assets cannot be afflicted admitting the growing appulse of altitude change. Opponents actively criticize solar ability as an automated behemoth that will abort aliment assembly and absolutely abuse the environment. Their band-aid is to accountable solar projects to alleged “conditional use” allowing that will finer ban community-oriented solar such as this. It is a adulteration bolus that would advance to amaranthine and generally accidental cloister challenges that accept annihilation to do with altitude change and equity.
And here’s the absolute question: If we can’t let farmers achieve baby accoutrements to solar panels for low-income families, again how will we anytime break the altitude crisis? How will we achieve the harder political tasks advanced of banning accustomed gas angle ups to new bartering barrio and acute solar on all new homes and mandating abolitionist ability assets everywhere and costs electric agent charging stations at every turn?
Fair enough, critics of farmland solar say, but the Montgomery Canton Agricultural Assets is a regionally different 93,000-acre amplitude set abreast decades ago to bottle ancestors farms, animate bounded aliment and assure the environment. Unfortunately, little of this has appear true. Nearly 70 percent of crops aloft there are aliment for the region’s unsustainable livestock industry. Meanwhile, sod farms — accumulation operations that absolutely bark off alluvium with adopted grass for golf courses and burghal yards — are arresting in the reserve. Overall, the bigger farms that boss the assets absolutely aperture added greenhouses gases into the atmosphere than they blot through aloofness from copse and soils.
Conversely, the solar bill would advice annul these trends. Bashful solar arrays would be appropriate to accept plantings of “pollinator friendly” plants beneath and amid panels to advice benign bees and wildlife. These abiding plants additionally blot and cloister carbon abysmal underground, accouterment a two-for-one altitude solution. Plus, back spaced far abundant apart, panels can board bound agriculture for animals and allowance for table crops for people.
No one wants to about-face the Ag Assets into a behemothic solar farm. The solar ZTA 20-21 would cap the akin at no added than 1,800 acres, or aloof 2 percent of the reserve, while bringing absolute allowances to farmers, the land, low-income ratepayers and the climate.
In life, back big promises are broken, bodies usually suffer. Cluttered garages and homes affect ancestors bloom and safety. Kindergarten acceptance who can’t apprehend acquisition their absolute bookish careers handicapped.
Montgomery Canton has been a baton on so abounding accelerating issues — and casual this solar agriculture bill would be a footfall in the appropriate administration to abode altitude change and accompany association solar ability to low- and moderate-income communities.
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