Just when you thought that we conservatives were starting to tame the liberal beast a new sinister attempt to control our lives has reared its ugly head: Sustainability. If you haven’t heard about this one you better get your lib detectors up and detecting. I live in Albemarle County, Virginia and we are in the midst of heated controversy about sustainability. What is it you ask? The sustainability initiative was started by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives—ICLEI, later rebranded “Local Governments for Sustainability”. Under the guise of sustainable environmentalism this unelected group has managed to worm its way into local governments.Over 1200 cities, towns, counties, and their associations worldwide comprise ICLEI’s growing membership. In my area this organization formed an under-the-radar group that put forward a resolution for reducing emissions by 80% by 2050. All laudable on the face of it. Working through our regional planning commission, a mix of elected and unelected representatives, they applied for a grant from the federal government to implement their plan. In October 2010, the regional planning commission received a three-year $999,000 grant to develop a regional sustainability implementation plan. The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant includes nine partners most of whom have no financial commitment. Oh, we didn’t tell you that there’s a $500,000 match to the grant. Most of the match is to be by local taxpayers. The University of Virginia, an institution that effortlessly raises money by the truckload, has no financial involvement with the exception of one staff person. Meanwhile, the taxpayers are on the hook without any formal vote by the local board of supervisors. Oh, one other thing. The application for the grant used a 13 year old “Sustainability Accords” document that almost none of our elected representatives voted for.

Here are the problems according to the regional planning commission’s COO. This is a direct quote.

  • Problem: Sustainability planning has been proceeding, but under a series of separately focused initiatives…

  • Problem: Sustainability goals have been established in major plans (Comprehensive Plans for Charlottesville and Albemarle County, MPO Long Range Transportation Plan) in the region but strategies for implementation have not been developed and adopted…

  • Problem: Sustainability is not being fully implemented in either the built environment or in the habitats of citizens and businesses…

  • Problem: Lack of available metrics to identify the region’s status in pursuing sustainability…”

In other words, ‘the local governments aren’t cooperating and giving up their decision-making power to us’. Does this sound familiar: “Taxation without representation is tyranny”. Thank goodness our local tea party jumped into the fray and alerted the Republican supervisors to this potential coup d’etat. In a series of county board meetings the Jefferson Area Tea Party (named for our former neighbor Thomas Jefferson) has been able to slow what was a seemingly-done deal to a near complete halt. The financial commitment alone is daunting in this era of lower budgets and penny-pinching. The next two weeks will tell the tale with our Board of Supervisors apparently split 3-3.

In the meantime, we have other controversies in the “sustainability” war. So-called smart meters are being installed by public utilities all across the country. What are smart meters you ask? A smart meter is usually an electrical meter (but can also be a meter to measure water consumption) that records consumption of electric energy in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information at least daily back to the utility for monitoring and billing purposes. Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. Unlike home energy monitors, smart meters can gather data for remote reporting. In Virginia, Dominion Power actually will tell you your electric consumption as compared to your neighbors. At this point you can opt out of this insidious invasion of privacy. In California the use of smart meters has become a big controversy. Witness this web site that was set up just to stop smart meters. Look at all of the resource links on the right hand side of the page. Do a Google search on “stop smart meters” and you’ll come up with pages of websites, stories and videos. Citizens are fighting back with proposed legislation, protests and lawsuits. ‘The nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry.’ Jefferson would be proud.

Stop Smart Meters Protect in California