Students submit resolutions for Town Meeting

Diesel emission reduction

In the face of climate change, a group of students has developed a proposal to reduce diesel emissions from construction vehicles in town.

“The town has to retrofit their construction vehicles because those vehicles emit 40 percent of diesel emissions in general,” said junior Pema Doma, who helped write the proposal.

According to Doma, retrofitting entails the addition of new technology to old machinery. In this case, technology used to chemically break up the pollutants produced by the vehicles could be added. This method, according to Doma, would reduce emissions by 30 to 50 percent; this makes it less efficient than other retrofits, but also less expensive.

“One way, which is more expensive, reduces the total pollutants by up to 90 percent,” said Doma. “It both breaks up the particles and filters them to prevent them from leaving the vehicle.”

Doma has a personal connection to the cause. According to Doma, studies have shown that inhalation of these pollutants can lead to asthma.

“My sister had asthma when I was younger, and she had an asthma attack when I was really little,” Doma said. “It was scary to know that asthma could’ve killed my sister. She makes up a lot of who I am today, and I could’ve really been a different person.”

The students are working through Youth of Massachusetts Organizing for a Reformed Economy (YMORE), whose mission is to ensure that all youth have opportunities for success and that adequate funds are committed to youth programs in Massachusetts.

“We initially started the campaign through that coalition of teenagers,” said Doma. “But since we found that we had a lot of people from YMORE in Brookline, we decided to have a Brookline-focused campaign.”

According to Doma, the proposal began as a warrant article and was presented to a town subcommittee. The group of students then met with the Brookline Public Health Advisory Committee, the Climate Action Committee and Climate Change Action Brookline, all of which endorsed the proposal.

“Each subcommittee is assigned a couple of warrant articles to look over and research in more detail,” said Doma. “They have to form an opinion on the warrant article.”

The capital subcommittee, which appropriates funds, made some modifications but, according to Doma, kept the proposal largely the same.

The proposal has been supported unanimously by the Advisory Committee and will be voted on by Town Meeting, which consists of more than 200 members. If the proposal passes, a task force will be formed to look into whether the town should enforce regulations concerning retrofitting diesel construction vehicles.

Tobacco purchasing age

After a ban earlier this year on tobacco in Brookline stores, a current student proposal aims to take the discussion to a youth level.

According to senior Eric Dumas, a member of the group that drafted the proposal, it aims to change the age of buying tobacco related products from 18 to 19 years old. The proposal would cover cigarettes as well as smokeless tobacco.

“It basically restricts access because there’s not a lot of 19 year olds in high school, and it’s much harder for students to find a way to get cigarettes,” Dumas said.

Dumas said he drew inspiration from his Peer Leadership class in which he discusses issues pertinent to students, such as decision making and drug usage.

“I feel like a lot of kids have started smoking cigarettes and I feel like a lot of them regret it,” Dumas continued. “High school’s a tough time when you can fall into peer pressure and make decisions that you wish you hadn’t made.”

Due to the negative health effects of smoking cigarettes, Dumas said teachers and other town politicians have endorsed the proposal.

“We’ve gotten a lot of support from a bunch of health committee members,” Dumas said. According to Dumas, the article has a very good chance to pass.

On May 31, Town Meeting will vote on the proposal after hearing Dumas and his group make their pitch.

Josh Slavin can be contacted at [email protected]