Kibby wind farm’s community ribbon cutting in Maine’s Western Mts – the farm helps cut carbon pollution while supplying clean energy. Maine, as a part of RGGI, and has helped to lead the battle against carbon pollution. Photo by Ramona du Houx
By Ramona du Houx
Over 350 state and local elected officials, representing every state, launched a sign on letter calling for 50 percent clean energy by 2030, and 100 percent clean energy by 2050, at the Paris Climate Conference. More elected officals are expected to sign on the letter in the coming days.
“California’s example shows that climate action can be an engine for broadly shared economic prosperity,” said California Senator President Pro Tempore Kevin De León, as he announced the initiative. “By promoting the development of clean energy resources, we are simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and creating jobs that can lift families out of poverty. If Congress won’t act, it’s incumbent on state and local leaders to do the job for them.”
Former Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, Des Moines, Iowa Mayor Frank Cownie, and Falcon Heights Minnesota Council member Beth Mercer-Taylor speak at an international press conference promoting 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean energy by 2050 at the Paris Climate Conference.
California, the world’s 7th largest economy, recently passed legislation to achieve 50 percent clean energy by 2030.
A number of current and former elected officials organized the initiative including former Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, former Councilor and Deputy Town Supervisor Town of Caroline, New York, Dominic Frongillo, and California East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz.
“We organized this initiative to highlight the important work state and local governments are doing to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution, despite many members of Congress who lack the leadership to protect our families and communities,” said Cornell du Houx.
The announcement focused on the success state and local governments have been achieving in clean energy innovation and implementation.
"We want the rest of the world to know that the climate-denying, anti-science voices in Congress do not represent America,” said Nick Rathod, Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange. Innovations at the state level often drive our national policy forward and that is exactly what is happening in the fight against climate change. States are leading the way."
Maine, as a member of the New England Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), has made great strides combating climate change, and RGGI has earned the state over $70million that has been invested in clean energy initiatives.
Farmington’s new Medical Arts Center at Franklin Community Health Network’s is saving energy while delivering critical medical care, in a large part, because of $59,532 in incentives from RGGI funds awarded by the state’s Efficiency Maine- established during the Baldacci administration.
RGGI estimates a return of more than $2.9 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 3.7 million participating households, and 17,800 businesses. California's Cap-and-Trade Program, which started in 2012, generated $969 million in revenue for the state through the end of 2014. It is expected to generate $2 billion a year or more in the future.
The RGGI states have experienced over a 40 percent reduction in power sector carbon pollution since 2005, while the regional economy has grown eight percent. “This proves that we can reduce pollution that’s putting our communities’ health at risk while growing jobs and prosperity. From East Coast to West Coast — states and local communities are leading the way,” said Katz.
This year, the United States has hit many clean energy milestones. America has added more clean power than natural gas, with clean energy generation up 11 percent while natural gas generation declined. During this time, jobs in the solar power industry grew 20 times faster than the rest of the economy.
The transition to renewables creates jobs and opportunities.
“Our region used to be coal country, and now is powered by 40 percent wind. That's the future that cities and states are creating,” said Des Moines, IA Mayor Frank Cownie. “Where there used to be 23 coal mines 100 years ago in and around the city, now we are building a green space corridor and new industries. It's time for cities, states, the United States and the world to aggressively commit to creating a better, clean energy future."
California East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz, California Senator President Pro Tempore Kevin De León, West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Jeri Muoio, and Des Moines, IA Mayor Frank Cownie speak at an international press conference promoting 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean energy by 2050 at the Paris Climate Conference.
When Congress has been gridlocked over how to combat climate change local communities have taken on the challenge.
“Cities and states are on the front lines of climate change. As sea levels rise, our city is in danger,” said West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Jeri Muoio. “To protect our future, and lead by example, we have made a commitment to power all our city vehicles without fossil fuels.”
People in every state are beginning to understand that too many members of Congress are trying to obstruct the President’s clean energy initiatives.
“The political will to act on climate change exists in every state, and community. But it has been drowned out with millions of dollars dirty energy companies spend sowing doubt and denial. Right now, Exxon-Mobil is under investigation for misleading shareholders, and the American people,” said Frongillo. “We need elected officials to lead a fair and swift transition to 100 percent clean energy.”
Climate change has been at the root of many conflicts around the world. Sometimes, civil unrest breaks out, which too often has led to war.
“A recent Pew study found ISIL , or Daesh, and climate change are seen as the top two global threats — and the two are interlinked. As a former Marine and now naval officer, I have seen this link firsthand. Instability caused by extreme weather helps terrorists like Daesh recruit fighters — Syria’s unusually severe drought helped trigger that conflict, ”said Cornell du Houx. “We need to protect our nation, and the world, from the real threats caused by climate change.”
The initiative also supports the implementation of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, as it will bring the U.S. within seven percent of the stated goal.
“We appreciate the administration’s leadership and commitment to working with state and local government,” said Cornell du Houx. “The launch of this letter is only the beginning. We will be working with state and local elected officials across America to ensure a healthier and safer future for our children. As leaders responsible for America’s present and future prosperity, we must take action now.”
So far, in Maine, these elected officials have signed on to the letter. More are expected to sign, soon:
David Miramant, State Senator, ME
Ryan Tipping-Spitz, State Representative, ME
Roberta Beavers, State Representative, ME
Margaret Rotundo, State Representative, ME
Michael Devin, State Representative, ME
Brian Hubbell, State Representative, ME
Deane Rykerson, State Representative, ME
Pinny Beebe-Center, State Representative, ME
James Davitt, State Representative, ME
Richard Farnsworth, State Representative, ME
Joyce McCreight, State Representative, ME
Chuck Kruger, State Representative, ME
Christine Burstein, State Representative, ME
Anne-Marie Mastraccio, State Representative, ME
Linda Sanborn, State Representative, ME
Denise Tepler, State Representative, ME
Dear President Obama:
We, the undersigned local and state elected officials, strongly support the goal to achieve more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030, putting us on the path to 100 percent clean energy sources by 2050.
This is a necessary and achievable goal. With the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, the EPA estimates that the United States will increase our current generation of clean energy by 30 percent. This means we are already on track to generate 43 percent clean energy by 2030 by effectively implementing the Obama Administration’s policies. We appreciate the administration’s leadership supporting clean energy—and with additional leadership at the federal, state, and local levels, our country will successfully reach the 50 percent by 2030 goal.
Clean energy is an American success story. It is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the United States and already provides 360,000 jobs. The solar industry alone employs 143,000 people—more individuals than work in coal mines—and grew 20 percent in 2014. Last year a new solar project was installed every 2.5 minutes.
Transitioning to clean energy isn’t just the smart choice for growing our economy—it keeps our families healthy. According to the American Lung Association, almost half of Americans live in places where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe. By transitioning to clean energy, we can clear the air and reduce the health risks of pollution.
The time to act is now. Fourteen of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000, and 2014 was the warmest ever recorded. Our communities are already feeling the growing costs of increased number of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, droughts, and flooding. According to NOAA, the frequency of billion-dollar storm-related disasters has increased five percent each year since 1980.
In Paris, the United States and our global partners will offer concrete targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the most devastating impacts of climate change. However, true success in Paris—and in the days, weeks and months that follow—will come down to America’s willingness to build on the momentum from the UN talks and continue to lead the world by implementing clean energy solutions.
States, cities and businesses are already paving the way with clean energy solutions that are substantially and cost-effectively transitioning our country away from dirty fossil fuels and towards clean sources like wind and solar. As leaders responsible for America’s present and future prosperity, we must protect our communities from the dangers of climate change.
To ensure our economic prosperity, to protect our health and children, and to ensure our security and safety, we need to act now to transition our country to more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030.
350 state and local elected officials