by James Bruggers, @jbruggers –
A Republican and a Democrat from the Kentucky General Assembly stood before a crowd on Tuesday and talked about how they did something unusual – they found common ground on an environmental issue.
Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, said she’s “the touchy-feely tree hugger.”
Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, “is the economic, fiscal guy – not that I don’t believe in saving money,” Marzian told the Kentucky Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council at its annual meeting.
They started the Green Schools Caucus in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and together, they’re pushing for awareness of the value of cleaner and greener schools.
The Green Building Council counts some 370 kindergarten-through-12th grade schools in Kentucky with some sort of environmental performance rating, whether it’s the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star status, the council’s own LEED-certification, or Warren County’s landmark net-zero Richardsville Elementary School, which since 2010 has produced all its own electricity.
It claims to be the first such school in the country.
Marzian said that as a Democrat, it is easy for her to back energy efficiency and renewable sources of power. And, she said, that’s what the millennial generation wants. “They are going to save the world, I hope,” she told the gathering of architects, contractors, solar power business owners, and others in the state’s growing green building community.
She praised DeCesare for facing a more difficult challenge inside the Republican Party.
In recent decades, many of its leaders have become hostile to much of the environmental agenda.
But together, she said, the two can “bridge the gap – and the sometimes cantankerous debate” between the two parties with divergent ideas on many issues, with a focus on green schools.
DeCesare said there can be roadblocks in both parties. But he said the two sides aren’t as far apart as they sometimes seem, and he noted there is some thawing within his party on global warming which most scientists blame on burning fossil fuels and other human activities.
Polls are showing a majority of Republicans are viewing climate change as real, he said, with some thinking, “if we can build green schools, maybe we can minimize some of the impact.”
He said it is about a shared vision of “healthy, high-performing schools for our children and grandchildren.”
Reach reporter James Bruggers at (502) 582-4645 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.