Citing concerns about the impacts of the climate crisis on communities across the United States, mayors representing more than 51 million Americans have come out against efforts at the nation's top environmental agency to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration rule that aimed to cut carbon emissions from power plants.
"No one is insulated from the impacts of climate change—people in cities of all sizes, along with suburban and rural communities are all at risk."
Last March, in a move decried as "terribly irresponsible," President Donald Trump signed an executive order demanding a review of the plan—which has faced challenges in federal court—ahead of its possible repeal. In December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was seeking public comment for how to replace it.
In a letter addressed to Scott Pruitt, the Trump-appointed EPA administrator, 236 mayors from 47 states wrote, "We strongly oppose the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which would put our citizens at risk and harm our efforts to address the urgent threat of climate change."
"Communities across the country are experiencing the effects of climate change today: sea level rise; hotter, longer, and more frequent heat waves; increased extreme weather; and many other harmful impacts," they noted. "Residents of our communities have experienced harmful impacts of climate change such as dirtier air, increased heat-related illnesses and deaths, damaged and disappearing coastlines, longer droughts and other strains on water quantity and quality, and increasingly frequent and severe storms and wildfires."
"No one is insulated from the impacts of climate change—people in cities of all sizes, along with suburban and rural communities are all at risk," they continued. "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to protect our citizens against the worst impacts of climate change."
"Cities are not going to sit on the sidelines while the Trump administration attempts to take away our country's best hope to cut carbon pollution and address climate change."
—Henry Henderson, NRDC
The mayors pointed to research (pdf) illustrating the incredible economic consequences of the climate crisis, and emphasized that while the financial and environmental impacts are felt locally—and mitigation and adaption efforts often occur on a community level—"the legal authority of cities and other municipalities generally extends only as far as their state governments and federal law allow, and as a result, our local efforts to address climate change are highly sensitive to national policies like the Clean Power Plan."
The letter was celebrated by environmentalists such as Henry Henderson at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), who wrote: "The mayors' letter reflects the voices of communities across the country that are bearing the worst effects of climate change and are eager for solutions. It shows that cities are not going to sit on the sidelines while the Trump administration attempts to take away our country's best hope to cut carbon pollution and address climate change."
— Andrea Learned (@AndreaLearned) February 20, 2018
Several of the local leaders who signed on to the letter, organized by the group Climate Mayors, took to Twitter to detail their concerns with the planned repeal:
The #CleanPowerPlan doesn’t just protect the health of our families – it protects our economy. That’s why I am one of 233 US @ClimateMayors speaking out to tell @EPA to #ProtectCPP. https://t.co/cBum5YWghE #Denver #COPolitics pic.twitter.com/USMLFx6PxI
— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) February 20, 2018
L.A. gets nearly 1/3 of our energy from renewable sources & we're pushing to get to 100%. The President should leave the #CleanPowerPlan in place so we can build on that momentum in L.A. & across the U.S. https://t.co/YDlabKfmoC pic.twitter.com/djBjmBooud
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) February 20, 2018