Cities Nationwide Join Litigation to Support Implementation of EPA Clean Power Plan

Press Release
Press Release

Top Local Policymakers Say Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan is Critical in Reducing Emissions and Averting the Worst Climate Impacts

NEW YORK AND WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the National League of Cities (NLC) and more than a dozen cities around the nation today joined a legal motion to support the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan, the EPA's signature effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. This move by municipal leaders is significant in light of the fact that NLC represents over 19,000 cities and towns, USCM is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more (there are 1,407 in the US), and cities are responsible for over 70 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

Filing a motion in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to participate as amici curiae ("friend of the court") in support of the Clean Power Plan are the following: The U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and the cities of Baltimore, Md; Coral Gables, Fla; Grand Rapids, Mich; Houston, Texas; Jersey City, N.J.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; Pinecrest, Fla.; Providence, R.I.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Francisco, Calif; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Boulder County, Colo.

"Local governments are on the front lines of climate change-related impacts to local economies, human health, natural resources and built infrastructure," said Michael Burger, author of the motion and executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. "They're also at the forefront of clean energy innovation. The Clean Power Plan will be integral in protecting communities from the most extreme climate impacts and furthering innovation in response to climate change."

"The President's Clean Power Plan is critical to growing our nation's economy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting public health," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "I joined in this motion because I am committed to creating a more livable Los Angeles and a healthier world. My administration is dedicated to eliminating coal from LADWP by 2025 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 as well as other vital goals as laid out in our Sustainable City pLAn."

"Cities are on the front line of the work to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change," said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. "While there is much we can do, and are doing, at the municipal level, we need federal actions like the Clean Power Plan to help move us away from fossil fuel consumption related to energy generation. It will also be essential in reaching the goals we've committed to under the historic COP21 agreement just adopted in Paris."

The motion emphasizes that climate change threatens the residents of many cities and localities across the United States. Climate impacts include more heat-related deaths, worsening air quality, longer droughts, increasingly frequent and severe storms, damaged and disappearing coastlines, and degraded ecosystems.

"Cities are at the forefront in the battle against climate change," said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. "We feel the greatest impact but we are also the most equipped to take action. In Minneapolis we are leading the way, proactively working toward aggressive carbon emission reduction goals. Implementation of the Clean Power Plan will give others cities the tools and framework to help them take the necessary steps to combat this global problem."

"Instituting common-sense environmental regulations is an important step in protecting our environment and preserving our planet," said Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. "Addressing the global climate crisis requires a concerted and coordinated effort throughout the world and the EPA's Clean Power Plan better positions the United States to lead by example on regulatory reform."

"Cities are already leading the way in this effort, from improving the energy efficiency of their buildings and offering consumers and residents energy efficiency programs, to deploying renewable energy," said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities. "But cities can't solve the problem of climate change alone, and we need the federal government to partner in and support this effort. The Clean Power Plan will ensure that the U.S. meets its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

"I welcome this much-needed action on power plant emissions from President Obama and the EPA," said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. "We need the President and EPA to set national limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Then our local efforts to use electricity more efficiently, and get more of it from renewable sources, can build on those limits and not be undermined by their absence. This partnership of federal, state and local government standard-setting, plus private- sector innovation and investment in clean energy, is our best hope for addressing what Pope Francis described as the ‘urgent need to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases,' substituting clean energy technologies for fossil fuels, and meeting our obligations ‘to those who come after us, and to our children."

"Through our EnergySmart program, Boulder County has seen firsthand the power of clean energy programs to transform homes, workplaces, and job markets," said Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones. "We are equally committed to supporting these programs as a critical strategy for achieving Colorado's Clean Power Plan goals."

"I am pleased to be among the many local officials strongly supporting the Clean Power Plan and am proud of the work we are doing in West Palm Beach to insure both an energy secure and reduced carbon emission future for our children and grandchildren," said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. "The City of West Palm Beach is a DOE Better Buildings Challenge Partner and has already reached its 2020 goal of reducing our energy intensity by 20 percent. We are not stopping there, but instead doubling down - making a commitment to Energy Secure Cities Coalition to power our city vehicles with non-fossil fuels, developing a new visionary storm water master plan addressing sea level rise through green infrastructure while redirecting storm water runoff to augment our water supply and reaching out to our residents and businesses to share critical Climate Change information. Cities are ground zero for Climate Change impacts and therefore must take the lead in instilling change."

Read the brief here.