Nation’s mayors should reject Trump carbon-based electricity plan

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, along with Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, and others have submitted to The U.S. Conference of Mayors a resolution reinforcing the organization’s support of the Paris Climate Agreement and collaborative efforts cities are taking to advance climate solutions.

On Saturday, Mayor Biskupski will request an amendment to the resolution asking The U.S. Conference of Mayors to formally oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to overrule the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by requiring regional electric grid operators to purchase electricity generated by carbon-based fuels.

In January, FERC unanimously rejected the plan proposed by Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The Trump Administration is now considering overruling FERC, using two federal laws which allow the Energy Secretary to overrule the independent agency in the event of an emergency or for national defense purposes. FERC is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. FERC is composed of five members, four of whom were appointed by President Donald Trump.

“Cities, states, and the Federal Government, should be working together to develop climate resilient communities powered by abundant sources of clean energy, and not furthering our reliance on limited and dirty carbon-based fuel,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “Part of these efforts must include strengthening programs to assist workers currently in carbon-based industries, so they can be a part of the future clean energy economy, which is being created by cities and business every day.”

 

The resolution notes that a nationwide survey released by the Alliance for a Sustainable Future, which is chaired by Mayor Biskupski, found that nearly two-thirds of respondent cities have already implemented policies such as procuring green vehicles, purchasing renewable energy, and requiring efficient government buildings. And further, 85% of cities are interested or are currently partnering with the business community to advance climate solutions in the areas of electricity, buildings, and transportation.

For its part, Salt Lake City has been working closely with its energy provider, Rocky Mountain Power, to transition the city to 100% clean electricity by 2032. The city is the largest participant in Rocky Mountain Power’s Solar Subscriber program and is working with the utility on future construction of an additional solar farm.

“Mayor Biskupski’s leadership in opposing this egregious attempt to force American families to bail out coal and nuclear millionaires at the cost of our health and our money is another example of why she is a true champion in the fight to protect our communities and our environment,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. “The Trump Administration will do anything to prop up uneconomic coal plants, and we need more leaders to follow the example of Mayor Biskupski by defending the needs of the public, not polluters. Mayors across the country are picking up that charge and proving that no one needs to go along with the Trump Administration’s indefensible, dangerous policies. Together, we can fight back and win.”

“Trump’s recent actions to prop-up dying coal plants ignore the recommendation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and will not change the economics of coal, but instead endanger public health and the environment,” added Ashley Soltysiak, Utah Sierra Club’s Director. “His actions increase the vulnerability of already marginalized communities who suffer the impacts of climate change and hurt all consumers by artificially driving up energy prices. This irrational and irresponsible bailout simply means that local leaders must play an even more critical role in ensuring significant carbon reductions.”

In 2017, Mayor Biskupski was also part of a group of mayors who co-sponsored and successfully championed a resolution supporting the switch to 100% clean energy in cities nationwide, which was adopted by the entire membership of the United States Conference of Mayors with the support of more than 250 mayors who attended the 85th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach. There are currently 70 cities in the United States which have formally passed resolutions or policies in support of 100% clean energy futures, including Salt Lake City and Park City. 406 mayors, representing approximately 70 million Americans have also pledged to uphold the Paris Agreement goals.

“It is clear that local communities are embracing a clean energy future, with or without leadership from the Federal Government,” said Mayor Biskupski. “If passed this resolution will send another message to the Trump Administration that the nation’s mayors and the people we represent are committed to clearing our air, slowing climate change, and ready to capitalize on the economic opportunities of a clean energy future.”

 

Resolution No. 45

Submitted by:

The Honorable Jackie Biskupski, Mayor of Salt Lake City
The Honorable Christopher L. Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento
The Honorable Lyda Krewson, Mayor of St. Louis
The Honorable Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston
The Honorable Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago
The Honorable Sam Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose
The Honorable Ted Wheeler, Mayor of Portland

IN SUPPORT OF CLIMATE RESILIENCY

WHEREAS, climate change is an immense socioeconomic and public health threat to the residents of cities in the United States and throughout the world; and

WHEREAS, hundreds of mayors have pledged to honor and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement over the past year, regardless of the Administration’s June 2017 decision to withdraw the United States federal government from its previous international commitment; and

WHEREAS, mayors are on the front lines of civic engagement and policymaking that affects human behavior, and they are uniquely well positioned to contribute to the design and implementation of state climate plans and supporting initiatives; and

WHEREAS, mayors and municipal governments are taking real actions to address climate threats through their own commitments to reduce carbon emissions locally; and

WHEREAS, a nationwide survey released by the Alliance for a Sustainable Future — a partnership between the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) — found that nearly two-thirds of respondent cities have already implemented policies such as procuring green vehicles, purchasing renewable electricity; and requiring efficient government buildings; and

WHEREAS, eighty-five percent of cities are interested in or already partnering with the business community to advance climate solutions in the areas of electricity, buildings, and transportation; and

WHEREAS, these local solutions and initiatives are necessary for the United States to meet aggressive goals set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement, working in partnership with citizens, other units of state or local government, community partners, and external stakeholders to promote resiliency; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the U.S. Conference of Mayors applauds mayors’ local commitments to accelerate sustainable development, promote resilience, and address the threat of climate change in the absence of federal leadership; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress and the Administration to implement federal policy that will help the United States uphold its prior international commitments and implement national strategies necessary to reduce carbon emissions and enhance climate resiliency.

<AMENDMENT> BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the US Conference of Mayors opposes the Administration’s effort to overrule FERC by mandating a required grid purchase of electricity generated by carbon-based fuels, which impedes the attainment of local government renewable energy goals; and encourages Congress and the Administration to strengthen programs to assist and retrain displaced workers in carbon-based industries.

Projected Cost: N/A

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