Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine did not wait until St. Patrick's Day to go green.
The Republican has announced plans to cut the town's greenhouse gas emissions in half within five years by expanding its use of alternative energy such as solar power, hybrid vehicles and LED lighting.
Romaine said the plan -- which he outlined during his annual State of the Town address on Monday -- is intended to help stem climate change and reduce the town's energy costs.
"We live on an island. We are affected by rising sea levels and more intense storms. We need to provide leadership by example on this issue," Romaine told about 327 residents, civic leaders and town officials at Brookhaven Town Hall. "These steps will ensure that our future will not be tied exclusively to foreign oil and polluting power plants."
Brookhaven officials estimated the town emitted the equivalent of 37,877 tons of carbon dioxide in 2005. Their goal is to reduce those emissions to 18,938.5 tons by 2020.
Romaine said the town would increase fuel standards for town vehicles, adding that officials have ordered seven hybrid vehicles that are 32 percent more fuel-efficient than the cars they will replace. The town also will consider biodiesel, compressed natural gas and electric vehicles, he said.
The town Highway Department has replaced more than 1,700 street lamps with LED lights, saving more than $200,000 annually, Romaine said.
The plan received the backing of the two Democrats on the town board. Councilwoman Valerie Cartright said Brookhaven should be a leader in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. "It's important that we continue to be an environmentally-conscious town," she said.
Romaine's plan was applauded by Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which has clashed with Brookhaven officials over their stewardship of the town landfill.
"It's a good goal and it allows the government to set the example," said Esposito, who ranked Brookhaven and Huntington as Long Island's top towns on environmental issues. "More local governments should set these goals, so that they can be leaders."
Long Island towns such as Huntington, Islip, Smithtown and Hempstead have installed LED streetlights, and some have adopted alternative energy systems such as solar and wind power or vehicles powered by compressed natural gas.
During his speech, Romaine said he would work with local environmental groups and cited the Long Island chapter of the nonprofit Citizens' Climate Lobby, which hopes to persuade federal officials to adopt renewable energy technologies.
"That's an ambitious goal," Ashley Hunt-Martorano, the group's marketing and events director, said of Romaine's proposal. "It's refreshing that a town official is doing that, [and] that a Republican town official is doing that. . . . There are many economic benefits to trying to stop climate change or to slow climate change."
With Deon J. Hampton