April 22 is Earth Day and it makes sense to highlight some of the environmental efforts occurring in Burlington this month and beyond. This is by no means a complete list, but does represent the Citys continuing commitment to environmental issues. Environmental and Energy Coordinating Committee By the time this is published, I expect to have named an Environmental and Energy Coordinating Committee (E2C2). This committee results from a Council resolution calling for the Mayor to appoint an environmental task force -- to assess the Citys progress and suggest new opportunities for reducing emissions that cause global warming. The Committee will include residents, City staff, and representatives of organizations that are involved in environmental concerns. Burlington was recently named the greenest city in the country by Country Home magazine, out of 379 other metropolitan areas. Burlington was also ranked number 2 out of 72 cities representing the 50 largest cities in the U.S. and the largest city in each state -- in the Earth Day Networks Urban Environment Report released this past February. These are accomplishments we can proud of, but there is still work to be done on environmental issues in Burlington. I expect the E2C2 to help facilitate the Citys continuing work in this area. Spring Into Action! Through its Legacy Project, the City is coordinating a Spring Into Action! initiative for residents to become involved in ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect our environment, and create a more livable and sustainable community. This is a joint effort with several local partners, including Burlington Schools, UVM, CCTA, Center for Community and Neighborhoods, City Market, Local Motion, ECHO, and Friends of Burlington Gardens. More information about Spring Into Action!, events that are planned, and things you can do personally to help protect the environment, can be found at HYPERLINK "http://www.SpringintoActionVT.org" www.SpringintoActionVT.org (this website is new and should be up now or within a few days). You can also call Stephanie Clark at the Legacy Project at 652-4229 for more information. Way to Go! Commuter Challenge I also want to specifically mention another initiative coordinated with the support of the City. The Way to Go! Commuter Challenge is a fun challenge to see how many driving miles you can save over the course of a week. Whether its through walking, biking, taking the bus, car-pooling or even telecommuting, you can make a big difference in greenhouse gas emissions. This years Way to Go! week is May 7-11. You can participate by going to HYPERLINK "http://www.waytogovt.org" www.waytogovt.org and registering. Both individuals and employers can be involved. I hope you consider joining the challenge -- last year, Way to Go! participants saved over 85,000 commuting miles and 74,000 pounds of transportation pollutants. No Idling Campaign Again through the Legacy Project, the City will be kicking off a No Idling campaign in April, also aimed at reducing vehicle emissions. The No Idling Campaign intends to raise awareness around the issue of vehicle idling, and improve air quality and decrease emissions by reducing idling in Burlington. The campaign will include the efforts of community partners nonprofit and community organizations, businesses, and the Burlington School District as well as different City departments. Vehicle exhaust is linked to increased rates of asthma in children, contributes to air pollution, and wastes precious energy resources. According to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, 53% of all air pollution in Vermont comes directly from vehicles. Ten seconds of idling uses the same amount of gas as turning a vehicle off and back on so anything more than ten seconds of idling wastes gas. It pays off--in many ways--to be aware of vehicle idling and eliminate it whenever possible. City Council Farewells and Transition City Councilors Carmen George, Ward 7, and Ian Carleton, Ward 1, chose not to run for reelection this year. They both served their wards and the city well including Ian as Council President -- and Id like to thank them for their good work, commitment and time they put into their jobs as city councilors. At the same time, Id like to welcome new city councilors Craig Gutchell, Ward 7, and Ed Adrian, Ward 1. I look forward to working with them both.