Should concern over global warming require every new commercial building in Lincoln to have a grass roof?

As Kermit the Frog once noted, “It’s not easy being green.”
As Nebraskans, we care about our environment and want to protect the quality of our air, drinking water, and living space from harmful contaminants.  Necessary regulations include controlling pollution, banning the use of hazardous chemicals in production, and protection from toxic dumping.

Unfortunately, under the guise of being green, some special interest groups attempt to use the environment as a weapon to defeat private property rights, curb individual choice, and promote “social justice.”

In contrast to necessary regulations, the regulations they seek would impose unnecessary controls and costs on businesses and property owners.  These costs are ultimately passed to the consumers and have the greatest impact on those who are least able to afford the cost increases, such as the poor and seniors on fixed incomes.

On November 30, 2010, Mayor Beutler joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), an international association formed in 1990 to promote “sustainable development.”  The Mayor’s office announced ICLEI USA as a resource in developing an energy efficiency and conservation strategy to reduce city government’s energy use by 20 percent and citywide energy use by 10 percent over the next two years.

While the goals are laudable, recently, on May 26, 2011, Kevin Nelson from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said “walkability is the issue, non vehicle travel.”  He said the “keys” were more trees, fewer vehicles and strong air quality agencies.

Christopher Duerksen of Clarion Associates said, “Lincoln’s development codes have to change to deal with sustainability.” He said Lincoln should make the following code changes:
• Require developers to put a community garden into a subdivision.
• Require “green” roofs on all new commercial buildings, including rooftop gardens or grass planted on the roof.
• Give special rights to solar power users so neighbors cannot plant a tree that would block a solar panel.
• A clothesline bill of rights, “The Right to Dry”.  (Some homeowners associations don’t allow clotheslines.  A law would override homeowner’s covenants to block clotheslines.)
• Require bicycle parking and bike lockers in all apartment buildings.
• Adopt outdoor lighting regulations that give each project a “lumen budget”.  Once you have reached your “lumen budget”, you are not allowed to have any more lighting.
• Require showers in office buildings to encourage people to bike to work.
• Require separating our household waste prior to putting it into the trash.
• Allow gardens in homeowners front yards.   I can’t wait to see the rows of sweet corn in my neighbors front yard.

Greg Shinaut, of Black Hills Energy, has been loaned to the city on a half-time basis to help promote a green city.  Greg said when he met with Mayor Beutler, “The Mayor told me to inject green into all the codes.”

Environmental activism must be balanced with respect for private property rights and freedom of choice. Changes in consumption should be based on consumer choice.  LIBA does not support regulatory changes that are not voluntary or absolutely necessary to support public health and safety. There must be balance between necessary regulations and freedom from onerous regulations supported by special interests.

Lincoln’s membership in ICLEI is up for renewal in July. Some places that have not renewed their ICLEI memberships are Albemarle County, Charlottesville, VA; Carroll County, Westminster, MD; Edmond, OK; Spartanburg County, Spartanburg, SC; Garland, TX; and Montgomery County, Norristown, PA.

LIBA requests withdrawal from ICLEI.  We feel that the citizens of Lincoln are best suited to manage our city’s needs rather than having to take direction from ICLEI, an organization connected internationally with entities like the United Nations that seek to implement an agenda that is counterproductive to Lincoln’s business climate.

If you are not a member of LIBA we would like to add your voice to our organization.  Business memberships are under $250 a year and individuals who believe in a conservative approach to government are also encouraged to join for only $100.  LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community.  If you have an interest in joining LIBA, please call me at 402-466-3419.

by Coby Mach, President & CEO
Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA)