Counties Launch Climate Action Standing Committee and IT Task Force

Committees will help counties face emerging challenges.

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) announced the creation of a new Climate Action Standing Committee and IT Task Force during its recent Board of Directors meeting earlier this month. 

“Every day we see the effects of our changing climate in stronger storms, erratic weather, rising seas and invasive species. It's up to all of us to do what we can to protect our planet and counties have incredible potential to be leaders in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and transition to renewable energy,” said NYSAC President Martha (Marte) Sauerbrey, chairwoman of the Tioga County Legislature. 

The new bipartisan NYSAC Standing Committee will discuss ways to address climate change in New York and identify county opportunities to work collaboratively toward creating more resilient communities. It will also generate and collect concerns and recommendations from county departments that will be affected by climate change and engage local government and the state to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect residents from climate change impacts.

“I commend my colleagues for supporting the creation of the Climate Action Standing Committee and am honored to have been chosen to lead it. By working together across all levels of government we can lead the grass-roots change in our communities that is necessary to creating a sustainable future,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said. 

In addition to members from 15 counties across the state, the committee also includes ex-officio representatives from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), Regional Transit Service (RTS), and the Nature Conservancy.

“As has been proven by the coronavirus pandemic, counties often lead the local response to global challenges, and climate change is no exception,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “The Climate Action Committee will offer a venue for county leaders and experts to strengthen and promote existing initiatives like the electrification of county vehicle fleets and creation of more energy efficient county buildings, as well as develop new and innovative ways to harden resilience and transition to clean energy.”

The Climate Action Committee becomes the 13th NYSAC Standing Committee, joining committees on Agriculture, Children with Special Needs, Economic Development, Intergovernmental Affairs, Medicaid and Human Services, Native American Affairs and Gaming, Public Employee Relations, Public Health and Mental Health, Taxation and Finance and Transportation and Public Works.

In the coming months, the Climate Action Committee, and all the NYSAC Standing Committees, will collect resolutions from their respective members for discussion and adoption during the NYSAC Legislative Conference in March.

NYSAC IT Task Force

In response to members' requests, the Board of Directors also created the NYSAC IT Task Force to serve as an advisory group to discuss major information technology (IT) and data issues that impact the operations and governance of counties. These issues include cybersecurity preparedness, procurement, and related county activities and state legislative proposals.

The new task force will address a range of issues facing local governments, including the effective, secure, and safe uses of information. It will also promote the effective and efficient integration of technology in county departments, and work across all intergovernmental boundaries to raise awareness about cybersecurity threats and help strengthen counties against those threats.

“Cybersecurity and IT is a frontier that must be better understood and protected by all county officials,” said Acquario. “Technology provides local government with the opportunity improve efficiency and effectiveness of services, but it also poses real threat to the business of governing. This Task Force will help marshal resources to maximize IT's potential while minimizing risk."


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