NEWS & PRESS


For Immediate Release, July 9, 2019
Contact: Dominic Frongillo
Elected Officials to Protect America
dominic@protectingamerica.net
(+1) 607 301 1152

450+ Elected Officials from 40 States Declare Climate Crisis an Emergency; Call for National Plan to Phase Out Fossil Fuels

Echoing AOC-Sanders, LA, and NYC Resolutions Declaring a Climate Emergency, Officials Say Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground Necessary to Protect Public Health and Lead on Climate Crisis
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following today’s introduction of Climate Emergency Declaration resolutions by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, more than 450 mayors, state representatives, and elected officials from 40 states called for a nationwide Climate Emergency Plan to phase out the production and use of fossil fuels and to ramp up renewable energy as part of a green new deal approach to energy and efficiency.

“Climate change is the most serious threat to the future of humanity, and we have failed to respond with the urgency needed,” said John Marty, State Senator in Minnesota. “It’s time for a strong, consistent, and aggressive response in order to become a 100% fossil fuel-free society.”

Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) is a growing initiative of state representatives, mayors, county supervisors, and city council members from across the nation that are demanding a national climate emergency plan and an end to the use of dirty fossil fuels that harm their communities.

“There is no single more important issue than addressing climate change for our municipality, nation, and planet, period,” said Melanie Bagby, Mayor of Cloverdale, California. “This is a global emergency.”

More than 740 jurisdictions in 16 countries have declared a climate emergency. Populations covered by jurisdictions that have declared a climate emergency amount to 136 million people. In June, New York City declared a climate emergency. Los Angeles City Council, whose climate emergency legislation in 2018 launched an avalanche of climate emergency declarations, has voted to create and fund the world’s first Climate Emergency Mobilization Department (CEMD) and a Climate Emergency Commission to oversee it, comprised of communities on the frontlines of climate change and workers impacted by climate action.

“The tide is turning and the people of the planet are finally waking up to the true — and staggering — realities of the climate emergency and what we need to do about it,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, the author of the CEMD legislation, “We believe the CEMD can be the mechanism by which LA’s version of a truly just and equitable Green New Deal can be implemented at the speed and scale required, and a vital regional mobilization on climate action launched.”

“The New York City Council has taken bold steps to address our climate crisis, and I was proud to vote in favor of the Climate Mobilization Act,” said New York City Council Member Brad Lander. “Now, we need the federal government to follow our lead and declare a national climate emergency and take the action necessary to protect our city and nation from devastating climate change.”

In light of unprecedented devastation from wildfires in California, destructive hurricanes in North Carolina to Puerto Rico to Hawaii, droughts, and extreme weather throughout the US, the elected officials are urging their peer elected officials across the nation to end permitting for new fossil fuel projects and phase out oil and gas production within a 2,500-foot buffer zone of vulnerable communities, halt public investments and subsidies of fossil fuels, and move swiftly to 100% clean energy.

“Scientific studies overwhelmingly agree on the terrible consequences that climate change will produce if we don’t drastically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Michael Yantachka, Vermont State Representative. “We can’t wait any longer to take action that should have been taken a decade ago. The time is now.”

Drafted by state and local elected officials from across the country at the Global Action Climate Summit in San Francisco in September and launched at the United Nations climate talks in Poland, the national letter cites the increasingly serious local impacts of climate change and harm to public health throughout America from the production and burning of fossil fuels, including pollution, water contamination, leaks, explosions and other dangers.

“It’s time to end the era of fossil fuel production and build our clean energy future together,” said Maryland State Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk.

More than 240 California elected officials signed a letter in June declaring climate change an emergency and urging Governor Gavin Newsom to end permitting for new oil and gas production.

“The most important job of local leaders is to keep their communities safe,” said Meghan Sahli-Wells, Mayor of Culver City, California. “The only way we can ensure the health and safety of our constituents is to end fossil fuel production in our communities, and transition to a just, clean, sustainable future.”

The Universal Ecological Fund report has found that climate change is already costing the U.S. economy $240 billion annually from storms, droughts, fires, and sea level rise cost their communities.

“North Dakota is the breadbasket of the world,” said Tim Mathern, North Dakota State Senator. “I don’t want climate change to make it the great American desert.”

The impacts of climate change threaten public safety in communities across the nation, particularly in low-income communities. Vulnerable communities will see an increase in poor air quality, infectious disease, and a decrease in food safety which will exacerbate social inequalities.

“As a military veteran of the wars in the Middle East, the climate crisis is about more than increasing temperatures and natural disasters,” said Tim Goodrich, Councilmember in Torrance, California said. “It’s also a threat to our national security.”

By 2090, a scenario of uncontrolled emissions will cause temperature related health impacts of $140 billion annually and $160 billion in lost wages. Outbreaks of infectious diseases like West Nile could even result in a $3.3 billion increase in annual hospitalization costs by 2100.

“Maine has some of the highest rates of asthma in the country because we are at the end of the ‘tailpipe’ of the nation,” said Samantha Paradis, Mayor of Belfast, Maine. “We need bold climate leadership to protect the health of the public, the economy, and our beautiful landscape.”

The officials are calling for supporting and retraining fossil fuel energy workers in the clean energy economy and ensuring investment in good, family-supporting jobs in renewable energy like solar, wind, and geothermal. These will lead to more sustainable, long-term employment and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

“We must protect our planet through actions big and small to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. There is no greater imperative,” said Catherine Blakespear, Mayor of Encinitas, California. “We have the technology to thrive and prosper without oil and gas drilling but we need the will to make it happen.”

The statements build on a letter from more than 250 elected officials from a majority of counties in California in 2018 urging Governor Jerry Brown to phase out fossil fuel production in the state. The letter contributed to Governor Brown signing bill SB 100 into law, requiring California’s electricity to come from 100% renewable sources by 2045.

“We should all be alarmed at the increase in carbon emissions and rapid rate of climate change posing an imminent existential threat to all living things on our planet. We must act quickly, boldly, and decisively to address this critical threat,” said Marina Khubesrian, Mayor of South Pasadena, California. “This includes how we power our cars, homes, and factories for starters.”

New York State passed a bill in June requiring the state achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Federal, state and local elected officials have a moral obligation to support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” said Nicola Armacost, Mayor, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. “We owe it to our children, our grandchildren and the generations to come.”

Worldwide, communities are demanding their elected officials take decisive action to address the climate emergency and keep fossil fuels in the ground. Protesters chanting “climate leaders don’t frack or drill oil” blockaded the Global Climate Action Summit that then-Governor Brown and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg convened in September 2018.

“By committing to this effort jurisdiction by jurisdiction, starting today, we will make a real difference,” said Michael Dembrow, Oregon State Senator.

BACKGROUND:

The full letter and list of signatories are available at https://protectingamerica.net/letter/

The National Climate Assessment released November 2018 projects that economic damages from climate change could lead to annual losses of $100 billion in various economic sectors. By the end of the century, current rates of warming will cost the US economy $500 billion a year in crop damage, labor losses, and damage from increasingly extreme weather — double the economic consequence of the Great Recession. The Assessment predicts economic losses will exceed the GDP of many states.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on October 8th warns that to maintain global temperature rise below 1.5℃, far-reaching and unprecedented changes must be made in all aspects of society, including halting the production and burning of fossil fuels. Human CO2 emissions need to fall 45% by 2030.

ADDITIONAL QUOTES:

“Climate change is the top threat to our safety, our infrastructure, our way of life,” said Patrick Wojahn, Mayor of College Park, Maryland. “It’s time to stop talking about it and start taking bold actions.”

Paul Feiner, Town Supervisor, Greenburgh, New York, “I am pleased that officials at every level of government are joining forces and fighting to take action to preserve our planet. If we don’t act now the quality of life for our children, grandchildren and their children will be greatly reduced. We must act now. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s a planet issue.”

“If we are serious about addressing climate change then we need to be serious about drafting policies that mandate the phase-out of fossil fuels,” said Daniel Lee, Councilmember in Culver City, California. “Anything less is window dressing on the porthole of a sinking ship.”

“It’s time to stop playing nice,” said Gary Koutnik, County Representative, Otsego County, New York. “This is an emergency of historic proportions.”

“Climate change will affect everyone on earth, and is already affecting millions right now,” said John Rizzo, Trustee of Community College Board, San Francisco, California. “We must get serious about ending the burning of fossil fuels.”

Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem, Oxnard, California, “Future generations will praise or condemn us. Our legacy will be the health of the planet and all of its residents…or the dire consequences we clearly see coming if we have failed to do everything in our power to keep the world safe.”

Frank Crawford, Vice President School Board, Marysvilla Joint Unified School District, California, “After working with various groups for the Camp Fire that destroyed the city of Paradise California. I am convinced that climate change, combined with other factors, contributed to the total devastation of a city I once lived and interned in while attending CSU Chico. This is now the time for change.”

Meghan Kallman, Councilmember, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, “Climate change is among the gravest threats facing not just our nation, but the entire globe. As a municipal official, I am deeply concerned about the ways that negative consequences will be experienced first in cities, including in mine. In Rhode Island, we are susceptible to flooding and hurricane damage, heat waves, and are running a grave risk of overtaxing our already-taxed infrastructure (including water and sewers). Our generation needs to step up to the plate and tackle this aggressively; we owe it to future generations to do so.”

Roseann Torres, Director, Oakland Board of Education, California, “as leaders in the US we must do all we can now to protect our environment for the future generations. Children living in poverty with food insecurity are the worst affected by climate change, which results in years behind their peers in school with lifelong negative results. We must bring equity to the table for all children.”

Barry Beck, Assessor, Mono, California, “It was recently announced that we had another record-breaking year for the release of carbon into the atmosphere, at over 37 billion tons. We have a lot less time than most people think to solve this problem that is currently on pace to lead to the 6th great extinction.”

Marina Khubesrian, Mayor of South Pasadena, California, “We should all be alarmed at the increase in carbon emissions and rapid rate of climate change posing an imminent existential threat to all living things on our planet. We must act quickly, boldly, and decisively to address this critical threat. If the planet were a patient exhibiting such dangerous vital signs, we would have her in the Critical Care Unit with a team of specialists working around the clock to save her life. We need to tap experts in Motivational Behavior Change to help our institutions overcome denial, resistance, ambivalence and inertia to move us into action on all fronts of sustainability. This includes how we power our cars, homes, and factories for starters.

Phillip Stoddard, Mayor of South Miami, Florida, “Coastal areas are going underwater, agriculture is failing, fires are raging, the oceans are dying, insects are disappearing. Think maybe we should do something different?”

Kelly Kent, School Board President, Culver City, California, “In Culver City, CA, our most sensitive receptors are subject to the harmful impacts of both conventional and unconventional oil drilling as we are smack in the middle of our nation’s largest urban oil field. I emphatically call on this planet’s political leaders to act like every child is their own, and to move with urgency toward phasing out the use of fossil fuels on behalf of their health, learning, and futures.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 8, 2019

“In addition to Mayor Walsh and Councilors Driscoll and Greene, more than 220 local elected officials from across New York State have called on state officials to align New York’s investments with its commitment to clean energy.  To protect the communities we serve and the local government employees who depend on the pension fund, we must act quickly. It is inconsistent for the pension system to maintain a financial interest in companies invested heavily in practices that worsen climate change while New York State is committed to policies necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change,” said Gregory Young, Fulton County Supervisor and Coordinator for Elected Officials to Protect New York.

Read full release here.

In a little over a month, the so-called Green New Deal has won endorsements from more than three dozen sitting or incoming federal lawmakers as Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) makes a high-profile bid to shift debate over climate change toward policy on the scale of the crisis.

On Friday, the effort got a boost from 311 state and local officials. 

Forty-four mayors, 63 county and state legislators and 116 city council members were among the officials from 40 states ― including some top oil and gas producers ― who signed an open letter issuing a sweeping, full-throated call for the phaseout of fossil fuels and adoption of Green New Deal-style climate policies.

At COP24 Climate Talks in Katowice, 300+ Elected Officials from 40 States Call for Phasing Out Fossil Fuels, Green New Deal Approach

KATOWICE, POLAND — Reiterating the concerns of constituents across the United States whose health and safety is threatened by fossil fuel production and worsening impacts from climate change, more than 300 mayors, state representatives, and elected officials from 40 states released a letter today calling for a nationwide plan to phase out the production and use of fossil fuels and to ramp up renewable energy as part of a green new deal approach to energy and efficiency.

“Climate change is the most serious threat to the future of humanity, and we have failed to respond with the urgency needed,” said John Marty, State Senator in Minnesota. “It’s time for a strong, consistent, and aggressive response in order to become a 100% fossil fuel-free society.”

As the Green New Deal pioneered by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continues to gain momentum, the plan to wean the U.S. off of fossil fuels has now found support in more than 300 local and state government officials who called for the initiative in an open letter on Friday.

The letter from environmental nonprofit Elected Officials to Protect America and signed by 311 officials from 40 states pointed to extreme weather phenomena exacerbated by climate change that are already affecting communities across the nation and costing billions to manage in their aftermath—dire issues that are only going to worsen as our planet continues to warm.

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