U.S. Mayors Cross Party Lines to Reject White House Rollback on Climate Action

ICLEI USA mayors commit to bold climate action at the Cities and Regions Pavilion during COP21 in Paris.

With the White House’s March 28, 2017, Executive Order Promoting Energy Independence, the Administration takes action to roll back critically important U.S. climate policies, including the Clean Power Plan and vehicle fuel efficiency standards, along with its proposed budget cuts to the EPA and critical federal programs like Energy Star.

In response, elected officials came together across political boundaries to voice their rejection of the President’s backtracking on climate action. In his statement, Mayor of Des Moines, IA, and ICLEI Board Member Frank Cownie calls out the detriment the Executive Order will have on cities, while asserting that local leadership will prevail when federal action falters. In addition, members of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA), representing more than 41 million Americans in 75 cities  in red and blue states have voiced their opposition in an open letter to the Administration. These mayors and others, along with state-level counterparts, have released numerous statements supporting continued climate efforts at the federal level and their support gives further credence to the increasingly important and enhanced role local authorities are playing to carry through on the U.S.’s Paris Agreement commitments.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles:

“President Trump’s moves today to undo the Clean Power Plan and roll back other key climate policies undermine the important efforts — throughout the country and the world — to tackle the single greatest threat and economic opportunity of our time: climate change. I asked 37 of my fellow ‘climate mayors’ to join me in writing President Trump to object to his actions, including severe proposed budget cuts to the EPA and clean energy programs like Energy Star at the U.S. Department of Energy, and rollbacks to vehicle fuel efficiency standards. The administration is taking clear steps to undermine not only the federal government’s commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, but also U.S. leadership on public health and growing the clean energy economy.

“No matter what happens in Washington, we will work to meet our Sustainable City pLAn goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, move toward zero emissions transportation, and pursue our vision of a 100% clean energy future. Los Angeles has also divested from the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will be completely coal-free by 2025.

“Nothing can stop us from investing in electric cars and mass transit; from ending our reliance on coal; from installing cool roofs and pavement; or from leading America in solar power. Los Angeles will uphold the obligation to preserve the health of our planet, protect our most vulnerable residents, and create a 21st century economy — and working with my fellow ‘climate mayors,’ we will continue doing our part to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement in cities across the country.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, City of New York:

“President Trump’s order to begin rolling back the progress we have made on climate change represents an existential threat to New York City. We’re already experiencing rising seas and hotter weather, with the last three years on record as the hottest yet. At the same time, the effects of climate change will fall disproportionately on our most vulnerable communities, exacerbating inequality. We are choosing to meet this challenge head-on, investing to make our neighborhoods more resilient and doing our part to reduce the pollution that drives climate change. Faced with presidential orders that reject sound science and common sense, I am proud to join mayors across the country in offering bold solutions capable of leaving our children a healthy planet.”

Governor Jerry Brown, State of California and Governor Andrew Cuomo, City of New York:

“Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science. With this move, the Administration will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity.

“Climate change is real and will not be wished away by rhetoric or denial. We stand together with a majority of the American people in supporting bold actions to protect our communities from the dire consequences of climate change.

“Together, California and New York represent approximately 60 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future.”

Governor Jay Inslee, State of Washington:

“Climate change remains one of the most urgent issues facing leaders at all levels of government in all corners of the world. Washington state remains wholly committed to doing our part,” Inslee said. “Action is needed now to grow our economy, protect our health and secure our quality of life. President Trump’s decision to ax the Clean Power Plan cedes U.S. global leadership and increases the risk that climate change will continue to damage our state. We can’t afford to slow our efforts, and we won’t.”

Governor Jerry Brown (CA), Governor Kate Brown (OR), Governor Jay Inslee (WA), Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles), Mayor Ed Lee (San Francisco), Mayor Libby Schaaf (Oakland), Mayor Ted Wheeler (Portland), Mayor Ed Murray (Seattle):

“As the governors of Washington, Oregon and California and the mayors of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles, we speak today in unified opposition to President Trump’s Executive Order withdraw and rewrite the Clean Power Plan. We won’t let the president’s misguided decision limit our region’s economic opportunities or our commitment to doing what’s right to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for future generations.

“We speak as a region of over 50 million people with a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion. There is no question that to act on climate is to act in our best economic interests. Through expanded climate policies, we have grown jobs and expanded our economies while cleaning our air.

“This Order moves our nation in the wrong direction and puts American prosperity at risk. We will assert our own 21st century leadership and chart a different course. Climate change is one of our greatest threats, from more wildfires threatening our homes and communities to ocean acidification rocking our shellfish industry to drought hurting our farmers. Too much is at stake – from our health and safety to our jobs and livelihoods – for us to move backwards.

“We will honor our commitments to our communities to do what’s right to keep our residents safe, secure, healthy and prosperous as we accelerate our clean energy economy and put the interest of our people before those of big polluters. We will continue to invest in clean energy that creates local jobs and keeps utility bills low, and we will electrify transportation to provide convenient, safe, and affordable ways to get around our cities, and make our neighborhoods healthy and vibrant.

“Our cities and states will continue to assert our leadership and position our region for economic success. We urge states, cities and businesses from across the country to join us in leading and re-affirming our commitment to cut carbon emissions and reverse the damaging impacts to our communities of unfettered pollution.”

Mayor Miro Weinberger, City of Burlington:

Trump rollback of climate policies cannot stand. U.S. #ClimateMayors object + commit to remaining climate leaders.

Council Member Jan Devereaux, City of Cambridge:

In DC this week, city leaders send a clear message: We need #climateaction now.

Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the chief legal officers of the cities of Boulder (CO), Chicago (IL), New York (NY), Philadelphia (PA), South Miami (FL), and Broward County (FL) – issued the following statement:

“We strongly oppose President Trump’s executive order that seeks to dismantle the Clean Power Plan.

“Addressing our country’s largest source of carbon pollution—existing fossil fuel-burning power plants—is both required under the Clean Air Act and essential to mitigating climate change’s growing harm to our public health, environments, and economies.

“We won’t hesitate to protect those we serve—including by aggressively opposing in court President Trump’s actions that ignore both the law and the critical importance of confronting the very real threat of climate change.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser, Washington, DC:

“Our values did not change on election day.  But some of them came under attack including protecting the environment and fighting against climate change.  These are our DC values, and as your Mayor, I will fight for them invest in them and protect them.”

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City of New Orleans:

“The City of New Orleans is on the frontlines of climate change and no matter who holds office in Washington, D.C., that fact will not change. Reports of this administration dismantling the federal policies intended to protect our communities and reduce our risk are deeply troubling, and that is why as a Mayor committed to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and a member of C40 Cities, I’m joining Michael R. Bloomberg and Mayor Anne Hidalgo to protect our climate progress and ensure its success. It would be an abdication of our commitment to protect and strengthen our communities to do anything less than shield our citizens from the devastating impacts of a changing climate that New Orleans knows all too well. As U.S. cities, we stand committed to joining fellow mayors and national leaders on the global stage to let the world know that we are ready to get the job done.”

Mayor Edwin Lee, City of San Francisco:

“Despite what’s happening at the national level, San Francisco remains committed to taking aggressive local actions on climate change.  We will move forward by building upon our successful City policies, such as those adopted last year to expand rooftop solar and offer 100% renewable energy options.  San Francisco is showing that reducing carbon pollution can improve the health of our diverse communities and translate to economic success.”

Mayor Steve Adler, City of Austin:

“Austin will continue to fight climate change. Worldwide, cities such as Austin will lead in this effort because so much of what’s needed will happen at the local level. Regardless of what happens around us, we’re still Austin, Texas.”

Mayor Lauren Poe, City of Gainseville, FL:

“As a major city in Florida, Gainesville is on the front lines in the fight against climate change. The Trump Administration’s reckless and uniformed abandonment of years of progress towards addressing climate change is a threat to all people in our country and around the world. Instead of turning their backs on irrefutable science and sound policy, the Trump Administration should be working with the global community to deal head-on with the crisis in front of us.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler, City of Portland:

“Portland is consistently ranked as one of the most sustainable cities in America, and not even a President can stand in our way. We’ll continuing to improve our quality of life and reduce carbon pollution even while our population grows. We have decreased emissions by 21 percent (since 1990), while increasing jobs by more than 25 percent and population by 33 percent. Clearly, a greener city is also a more prosperous city, too. “Newly confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and President Trump may make the misguided decision to try to destroy the Clean Power Plan. Our city and region will stay the course and move beyond coal and other fossil fuels. Portland is showing the rest of the country that clean energy, sustainable development, and walkable communities mean local action is a smarter choice than federal inaction.”

Mayor Ed Murray, City of Seattle:

“Seattle is the Emerald City and that is no truer than our innovation when it comes to urban sustainability. Seattle is home to our nation’s first carbon neutral electric utility and has ambitious plans to connect our clean electricity to our transportation sector. Today we stand even more resolute and committed to the historic, local-to-global effort to combat climate change, bringing our city’s talent and energy to one of the most important jobs we can do for our children and their future.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago:

“By denying the reality of climate change and falsely suggesting environmental protections are anti-business, this executive order represents backwards thinking from days gone by. Chicago has shown you can grow the economy and create jobs while improving our environment. The administration’s short-sighted move ignores the 86,000 clean energy jobs in the Chicago region alone and the millions of dollars being put back into the pockets of businesses and residents through renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will continue to work with environmental groups, community organizations, and the business community to reduce our environmental impact while creating 21st century jobs. We will also work with other cities around the world to take on the economic and environmental opportunities being left behind by this administration.”

Mayor Jim Kenney, City of Philadelphia:

“Eliminating the Clean Power Plan and other programs that fight climate change is irresponsible.  A hotter and wetter climate will have a disastrous impact on the health of our residents and our communities.” said Mayor Kenney.  “Additionally, the proposed Trump budget would have immediate and drastic effects on many programs that Philadelphians rely on, such as those that support local air pollution prevention efforts, or that help residents save money on energy.”

“Any attempt to undermine programs designed to fight climate change is a step backward,” said Christine Knapp, Philadelphia’s Director of the Office of Sustainability. “Scientific consensus compels us to act now to reduce harmful carbon pollution to protect public health now and in the future.”

Since the early 1990s, local governments in the U.S. have been using ICLEI’s technical tools, capacity building, and networking opportunities to quantify GHG emissions, develop local climate action plans and prepare to climate hazards. They played a tremendous leadership role in mobilizing 1000+ signatories to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2005 when Kyoto protocol entered into force and have taken center stage in UNFCCC processes in the lead-up to the landmark Paris Agreement.

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