Repealing President Barack Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan would slow down local efforts to address climate change and bring devastating health and economic impacts to U.S. communities, 236 mayors representing 51 million people in 47 U.S. states and territories tell Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in a letter released earlier this week.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to protect our citizens against the worst impacts of climate change,” they write, in a sign-on organized by The Climate Mayors. “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.” And “not only are climate change impacts felt locally — our communities are also where climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts are being implemented.”
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The letter cites the EPA’s own peer-reviewed research that projects the difference in front-line impacts between 4.0°C average global warming, and a 2.0°C target that in the U.S. depends largely on the Clean Power Plan: “57,000 fewer domestic deaths per year due to poor air quality; 12,000 fewer domestic deaths per year from extreme heat and cold in 49 U.S. cities; up to US$6.4 billion in avoided annual adaptation costs from severe precipitation in 50 U.S. cities; $3.1 billion in avoided annual damages and adaptation costs from sea level rise and storm surge on the coasts; and up to $2.5 billion in avoided damages from inland flooding.”
The mayors add that, “on our current path, the annual cost of coastal storm damage is expected to climb to as high as $35 billion by the 2030s; coastal property valued at $66 to $106 billion will likely be underwater by 2050.”
U.S. cities and communities of all sizes and types are already “reducing their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions by investing in energy efficiency, committing to the use of clean energy resources, and reducing reliance on fossil-fueled energy sources — efforts that protect against climate change, and also support clean air and a vibrant clean energy economy,” the mayors write. “But 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, which shape markets, steer state action, and have large, direct impacts on nation-wide emissions.”
That’s why U.S. cities “would benefit from the support and certainty that a federal framework for reducing the power sector’s greenhouse gas emissions could provide. The Clean Power Plan, by providing such a framework, would enhance ongoing local efforts and enable new local initiatives to improve public health, increase air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy innovation.”
InsideClimate News notes that the letter’s signatories “included the mayors of cities like Orlando, Houston, and New Orleans that have suffered the ravages of storms and floods linked to a warming climate. It also included the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, who was hosting Pruitt’s latest hearing on the rules Wednesday.”
“L.A. gets nearly 1/3 of our energy from renewable sources & we’re pushing to get 100%,” tweeted Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The President should leave the #CleanPowerPlan in place so we can build on that momentum in L.A. & across the U.S.”
“I’m teaming up with over 200 mayors on behalf of 50 million Americans to fight the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle the Clean Power Plan,” added New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in his own tweet. “It’s time to put our planet first.”