| December 14, 2018
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.
“As the world gathers in Poland for the climate talks, it’s imperative that we take the action here at home that really leads the nation and the world,” said Maryland State Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk. “It’s time to end the era of fossil fuel production and build our clean energy future together.”
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) released the letter as is a growing initiative of state representatives, mayors, country supervisors, and city council members from across the nation that are demanding an end to the use of dirty fossil fuels that harm their communities.
“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.”
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.
“The existence of climate change and its potential disastrous impacts have been known for decades. The solutions, primary among which is elimination of the use of fossil fuels, have also been known,” said L.W. Allstadt, Trustee of Cooperstown, New York and former executive vice president of Mobil Oil. “We need to take action now, or we will be condemning our children and grandchildren to the severe physical and societal impacts of climate change and the exorbitant costs of trying to deal with them.”
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 on Thursday, the 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.
“The most important job of local leaders is to keep their communities safe,” said Meghan Sahli-Wells, Vice 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 have 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, State Senator in North Dakota. “I don’t want climate change to make it the great American dessert.”
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.
“There is no single more important issue that addressing climate change for our municipality, nation, and planet, period,” said Peter Swiderski, Mayor of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. “This is a global emergency.”
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 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 letter builds on a letter from more than 250 elected officials from a majority of counties in California 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.”
The Global Climate Action Summit that Governor Brown and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg convened was blockaded by protesters, chanting “climate leaders don’t frack or drill oil.” Following on dozens of events across the country, the network of officials is pointing to community concerns.
“By committing to this effort jurisdiction by jurisdiction, starting today, we will make a real difference,“ said Michael Dembrow, Oregon State Senator.
The full letter and list of signatories are available at www.uselectedofficials.org.
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.
New York State Senator Krueger: “As elected officials, our first responsibility is to look after the safety, security, and health of the people we represent. There is no question that climate change is the greatest threat to our constituents’ well-being, not to mention our economy and the very stability of our civilization. When it comes to tackling climate change, the question is not how much we’ve done compared to others, but whether what we have done matches what science tells us is necessary. The time has come to make commitments that are bold yet entirely realistic, to safeguard a livable climate for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.”
“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.”
“With the most intense wildfires in history preceded by a long drought, climate change cannot be denied in California,” said Eduardo Martinez, Councilmember in Richmond, California, home of the large Chevron oil refinery. “These extreme weather events will continue to increase if we do not act now to lower carbon emissions.”
“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 to do something about it.”
Tim Goodrich, Councilmember in Torrance, California said, “As a military veteran of the conflicts in the Middle East, the threat of climate change is about more than the air we breathe, it’s also a threat to our national security.”
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.”
“Wisconsin is feeling the effects of climate change in force when in August we saw historic, catastrophic flooding across the state, costing at least $44 million — a financial burden that Wisconsinites will bear for decades to come,” said Kate Beaton, Councilmember in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. “Wisconsin families are still mourning this tragedy and we owe it to them to take this as a wakeup call and act on climate change right now.”
“With the undeniable and devastating effects of fire, flood and record breaking heat, we can do longer be idle while the federal government closes its eyes to real science on climate change,” said J.R. Roberts, Mayor Pro Tem of Palm Springs, California. “If we don’t act locally and soon, there may not be a world for our children to fight for.”
“We are at a climate crossroads. Failure to act now will have disastrous consequences for our planet and society,” said Jesse Arreguin, Mayor of Berkeley, California. “I am proud to stand with countless other elected officials in promoting strong environmental policy while urging others to follow our lead. We cannot settle for anything less.”
Josh Mandelbaum, Councilmember, Des Moines Iowa, “Our communities are increasingly impacted by severe weather events from floods to droughts. We must act. We can be part of the solution by leading the transition to a clean energy economy and creating local jobs.”
Nicola Armacost, Trustee, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, “Federal, state and local elected officials have a moral obligation to support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We owe it to our children, our grandchildren and the generations to come.”
William Reinhardt, County Legislator, Bethlehem Albany County, New York, “This is the underlying challenge of our time. Can humanity come together and cooperate at all levels of government to avert climate disaster?”
“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.”
Gary Koutnik, County Representative, Otsego County, New York, “It’s time to stop playing nice. This is an emergency of historic proportions.”
J.R. Roberts, Mayor Pro Tem, Palm Springs, California, “With the undeniable and devastating effects of fire, flood and record breaking heat, we can do longer be idle while the federal government closes it’s eyes to real science on climate change. If we don’t act locally and soon, there may not be a world for our children to fight for.”
John Rizzo, Trustee of Community College Board, San Francisco, California, “Climate change will affect everyone on earth, and is already affecting millions right now. We must get serious about ending the burning of fossil fuels.”
Share Horne, Councilmember, Laguna Woods, CA “This is the most critical issue for humans and animals living on this planet.”
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.””
Manna Jo Greene, Ulster County Legislator, New York, “The global climate crisis is the most pressing issue we face. By working together, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel and other sources and rapidly transition to a renewable energy economy, with storage and efficiency. We must also protect our farms, forests, wetlands and oceans, that can draw down carbon and other greenhouse gasses and safely store them out of harm’s way. By urgently preventing emissions and protecting ecosystems that sequester carbon, we can actually return the Earth back into balance. Climate solutions are here — we just need the personal and political will to implement them. Given the recent IPCC report, we have 11 years to do so. This is therefore the most urgent and important work we can be doing for our constituents and for future generations.”
Eduardo Martinez, Councilmember, Richmond, California,“With the most intense wild fires ever preceded by a long drought, climate change cannot be denied in California. These extreme weather events will increase if we do not act now to lower carbon emissions.”
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 Calif. I am convinced that climate change, combined with other factors, contributed in the total devastation of a city I once lived and interned in while attending CSUChico. This is now the time for change. Thank You.”
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”.”
Brandi Merolla, Councilmember, Tusten, New York, “The time to eliminate fossil fuel use is now and the time to embrace renewable energy is now. There is no Planet B!”
Roseann Torres, Director, Oakland Board of Education, California, “We must do all we can now to protect our environment for the future generations. Kids are most affected who are poor and begin school behind their peers as a result which has lifelong negative effects.”
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.”
Debora Fudge, Councilmember in Windsor California, “Climate change is the most difficult challenge facing us. Our future is in peril.”
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.
Jan Pepper, Vice Mayor, Los Altos, California,“Combating climate change is essential for the survival of our planet. We all need to come together to make this happen.”
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?”
Christy Holstege, Councilmember in Palm Springs, California, “As California, our nation, and the world face the devastating damage ravaged by extreme weather events caused by climate change, like the forest fires that destroyed parts of California last month, we need to call for bold leadership to achieve 100% clean energy to protect our environment. As a millennial city councilmember for the City of Palm Springs, I know we need to take urgent action now to protect our planet for generations so that we can all enjoy safe, healthy, and equitable futures.””
Nicholas Josefowitz, BART Director, San Francisco, California, “Climate change has already started to wreck havoc on our communities. We all need to step up, take responsibility for our future, and act decisively to eliminate the carbon pollution we are responsible for. That’s why I led BART to become the first transit agency in the country to be powered by 100% renewables – creating good green jobs and saving money in the process. And that’s why I’m urging all other governments – big or small – to do the same.””
Stephen Houlahan, Councilmember in Santee, California, “The time has come for the leaders of the Earth to create a sustainable economic model that accounts for the financial impacts of climate change.”
Rebecca Kaplan, Councilmember at large, Oakland, California, “”As the city-wide elected representative of the people of Oakland, I know that some of our most struggling communities have the most to lose from the impacts of climate change and pollution. Oakland suffers a huge disproportionate share of asthma and other negative environmental impacts, and, as climate change worsens, it threatens to worsen injustice also. We must all take stronger action to protect our communities, including the most vulnerable!””
Kelly Kent, School board vice 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 all of our babies’ health, learning and futures.””
Danielle Adams, Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, Durham, North Carolina “Younger generations are looking to us for answers on why we aren’t doing more to preserve their future. The most vulnerable among us are looking to us for answers on why we aren’t fighting for the lives that are being lost today because of the impacts of climate change. When future generations look back on us how will we be judged? How can we continue knowing the real costs ahead of us and do nothing. Their are people in my community who are dying because of our inaction. The time to act isn’t now — the time to act was decades ago and we missed the mark. Now we have to do ALL that we can to save lives, adapt to the changing world around us and preserve whatever we can of the future. We have no choice but to act.”
Jeannine Pearce, City Councilmember, Long Beach (District 2), California “This is an issue that affects our communities not only physically , but it creates a financial burden to local municipalities. Without taking strategic steps to have clean energy, the increase of impacts will continue. I am proud to be part of a city that is currently working towards making Long Beach be a 100 % clean energy and environmentally sustainable city through policies such as our Clean Air Action Plan, Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility among others. Without a strong leadership in climate change, many green projects will not be implemented. I urge your support in taking care of our environment and most importantly our constituents. “
350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.