Community leaders work with federal government to address environmental concerns

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Having served as co-chair of the Energy Independence and Climate Protection Task Force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and having signed the conference’s Climate Protection Agreement, Mayor Jim Brainard now is also one of 26 members of the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience.

The Task Force, which President Obama established on Nov. 1, 2013, is a group of leaders that will provide recommendations on how the federal government can help local communities fight climate change and become more resilient.

“The short-term goal is to come up with ways for the federal government to streamline regulations,” Brainard said. “I think the long-term goals are to combat climate change — in other words, to mitigate some of the changes going on with the climate by doing things that are more environmentally friendly: more solar roofs, more solar electricity, less carbon emissions (and) so on.”

The first meeting of the Task Force, which was conducted on Dec. 10, 2013, focused on resiliency and homeland security issues. The Task Force will meet at least three more times.

On Dec. 19, 2013, Brainard held a roundtable discussion at the Monon Community Center. Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Wahl, who was a panel member of the roundtable, said he was told the Task Force will take the format of the roundtable throughout the country, and it will eventually come back to the federal level with recommendations.

Eventually, the Task Force will prepare a written report, which is due on Nov. 1, providing recommendations about how the federal government can better help state, local and tribal governments in order to become more prepared for and resilient to climate change.

“Hopefully, that report will then be a blueprint for the federal government about how they can work with local cities, counties and states better in the area of climate change,” Brainard said.

Not only may the Task Force’s future plans, including the report, and Brainard’s membership in the Task Force combat climate change, but they may also affect the city of Carmel and CHS.

Wahl said, “Hopefully, by Mayor Brainard being appointed, and the city of Carmel getting the positive attention that it is getting and well deserved for its green initiatives and sustainability, it will continue to make the city of Carmel blossom and Carmel Clay Schools as well.”

e.fernando.temperaturesKatie Gao, president of the Sustainable Living Club and senior, said the Task Force’s future plans will affect CHS students. Gao said, “Students will have to learn to become leaders amongst students in making responsible choices to proactively become the change they wish to see. They say that change arises from youth, and in this case, I agree. As the next generation of citizens, we should strive to make responsible choices by aiming to limit our environmental impact, and the Task Force may be just the push we need.”

Students can also be involved in helping the Task Force reach its goals.

Brainard said students can become involved in the Carmel Green Teen Micro-Grant Program, the Carmel Mayor’s Youth Council and the Carmel Green Initiative.

Gao, who shares similar views with Brainard, said students can recycle, carpool and join the Sustainable Living Club.

Wahl said, “Students can and do make a difference and should never underestimate their potential as they go forward leading with green and sustainable initiatives.”

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