OP-ED: Looking for eco volunteers in York

Don Hake
York City
This April 20, 2011, file photo shows some of the 30,000 solar panels that make up the Public Service Company of New Mexico's new 2-megawatt photovoltaic array in Albuquerque, N.M.

Several months ago, pre-pandemic, I formed a group that I named “The Eco Action Group.” The key word in the title was "action."

I had grown weary with the op-ed pieces and letters to politicians. They were ignored or politely dismissed. The word “hoax” was used in responses and those in critical decision-making positions denied the human behavioral causes of the environmental degradation.

Tip O’Neil, as Speaker of the House, once said, “All politics are local.” So, too, I believe are the environmental misdeeds and threats.

The Eco Action Group began with research and discussion that was to be followed with remedial actions. York City had been donated a college student to perform research determining the primary sources of carbon gasses in our local atmosphere. The study showed that vehicular traffic was the No. 1 contributor — by local populations and then the commercial and industrial users.

At one of the last group gatherings, prior to the pandemic-induced restrictions, we had a presenter who was responsible for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Baltimore. We need volunteers to research the results, good and bad, of those installations.

We need volunteers to contact our local auto dealerships and ascertain the holdbacks of EV sales and to contact current EV owners to develop anecdotal reports on the plus and minus of the various brands.

We need volunteers to contact the owners of public and private charging stations to do anecdotal reports on the plusses and minuses of the various brands of charging stations and their costs.

And we need volunteers to determine the viability and profitability to our local economy of manufacturing those charging stations locally.

Regarding solar panels and their installation, it has been reported that there is currently a five- to 12-year payback for solar installations. This can be reduced even further through group buying. Solar United Neighbors, a national organization with its main offices in Washington, D.C., recommends community groups be formed (25-50 homes or businesses) for negotiating lower material and labor costs through economies of scale saving by the installers.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, we have the addresses and owners' names of parties lifting building permits for solar panel installation in York for the past two years. We need volunteers to contact those parties and develop anecdotal reports regarding the brands installed and the cost and workmanship of the installers.

We have treated our environment very badly, and it’s the next generations that will bear the brunt of that mistreatment. We need volunteers to contact the youth, through schools and colleges, and recruit them to canvass neighborhoods. We need to know what structures would most benefit from solar and/or LEED repairs.

I haven’t even mentioned plastic, trash, tree planting, electric suppliers and so on. There is a staggering amount of work to be done. Our time is limited, and the clock is ticking.

In September 2019, the York City Council passed a resolution that York City will be 100% renewable energy by 2050. I have requested their “plan” for making that happen but have yet to see it. Perhaps we could help them?

However, before volunteering, there are three documentaries that should be watched: Who Killed the Electric Car?, Plastic Wars, and David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet.

The group email is Please contact me with your willingness to be involved. I look forward to your responses.