A question for prospective city council members

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council, and candidates for election)

Kathy Fox is a member of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council, a co-chair of the Northampton County Council of Democratic Women’s Environmental Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem Food Co-op.  Kathy involves herself in positive organizations and activities that foster community, environmental awareness, education, and good health. 


Thank you for your continued interest in the issue of climate change.  While we dilly-dally on the federal level on workable solutions, here in Bethlehem we should also be concentrating on making changes in our community and in local government zoning and planning because this is where we have the most control.

Even before the next election, I want to see the current city council and mayor to step up their game.  Climate change is not only a world issue, it is a local issue.

I want to hear our six (so far) prospective city council members talk about their specific solutions to climate change on a city level.

Years ago I sent an e-mail to the council members and the mayor urging them to change the city ordinance/building codes to require more stringent energy efficiency rules than the 2009 Pennsylvania building code regulations.  I never heard that the city made any changes.

Last year, Pennsylvania updated their building code regulations, and now the city must comply with the updated codes.  However, the city still needs to increase the energy efficiency requirements on all new buildings and renovations to require some level of LEED certification.  You do not need a written Climate Action Plan to start changing our buildings codes and ordinances.  The longer we wait, the direr the consequences will be.

As for the last fact presented by Jonah Goldberg in your blog post regarding the decrease in emissions in 2017, it fails to mention that in 2018 U.S. emissions increased 3.4% — “a jarring increase that comes as scientists say the world needs to be aggressively cutting its emissions to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.”

See “U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018 — and it couldn’t happen at a worse time,” by Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis.

So prospective city council members, what changes in the existing City of Bethlehem zoning, planning, building codes, etc. are you willing to propose and support to more effectively battle climate change on a local level, and how quickly will you do this once you are elected?


One thought on “A question for prospective city council members

  1. Kathy Fox hits the nail on the head with addressing these kinds of issues using zoning and building codes to effect local changes. Too bad city officials don’t.

    Why not require solar panels on the roofs of buildings over a certain square footage? Why not require warehouses to then provide onsite rest parking for diesel fuel drinking semis? Why not use the solar energy created to allow those semis to plug in instead of running engines that pollute, while a driver rests? Why not up the ante on reconstruction and new construction with more environmentally friendly energy standards/requirements?

    Yes, there is much that could be done to address environmental concerns, but it seems that election time rhetoric is the only time we hear about soon to be forgotten ideas, in the name of getting elected.

    This is a practice and philosophy, not a campaign bullet point.

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