Henrietta recently became the sixth local municipality to sign a letter asking Congress to consider a carbon fee and dividend to mitigate the effects of fossil fuels on public health and the environment.
The vote followed a presentation by the Citizens' Climate Lobby, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group focused on national policies addressing climate change.
"What we've found over the last couple of years is the best way to influence members of Congress is through influential people in the community,” said Rob Levine, head of the Climate Lobby’s municipal outreach team. “Municipal leaders pretty much top that list, along with business leaders and the leaders of higher education in the Rochester area."
Republican Scott Adair, a Henrietta town board member, said he didn't think of climate change as a local issue until the Citizen's Climate Lobby made its presentation to the board.
"It really kind of brought some things together for me that I wasn't necessarily thinking about in the world of climate change, and so it was rather eye-opening to have the group come in and talk to us, " he said.
Adair said he especially liked the revenue-neutral aspect of the carbon fee and dividend proposal.
“It certainly brought to light some of the issues we're dealing with from the world's perspective regarding this and how it does impact us locally, regardless which side of the aisle you're on."
A carbon fee and dividend would impose a fee on fossil fuel companies and distribute that money back to American households.
The Citizens' Climate Lobby is talking to other town governments in their efforts to get more support for the idea. They will make a presentation to the Webster town board later this month.
"We've had towns that are fully seated with Republicans that have endorsed carbon fee and dividend as a unanimous vote,” Levine said. “We've had some that are all Democrats and some that are mixed town boards of Democrats and Republicans. That's real encouraging to us, because we strive to be nonpartisan on the issue because it affects everybody. It doesn't matter what party you're in."
The town boards of Brighton, Irondequoit, Penfield, Pittsford and Rochester City Council have also signed the letter to Congress.