JACKSON, Wyo - The Environmental Protection Agency held a "listening session" on Wednesday about its proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, and a broad coalition of mayors made its position clear. More than 200 mayors from around the country - including Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon - signed an open letter opposing the EPA's proposal.
Representing a combined total of 51 million residents from 47 states and territories, the mayors are on the front lines of the fires, floods, drought and severe weather brought on by climate change. According to Henry Henderson, managing director for regional affairs with the Natural Resources Defense Council, they can't do it all on their own.
"They're calling for the federal government to set the standards whereby effective action can take place to actually make their actions on the city side that much more effective," he says.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has argued that the Clean Power Plan exceeds the agency's authority by forcing utilities to reduce carbon emissions outside their own facilities.
Henderson says mayors around the country have pledged to meet or exceed the emission reduction goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. But municipalities have limited jurisdiction, so they say they need the Clean Power Plan to meet carbon reduction goals.
"Repealing this will make it that much more difficult for the cities to respond to protect the health and safety of their residents," says Henderson.
He adds that the efforts to slow climate change will be most effective if all levels of government work together to achieve that goal.
Henderson points out that mayors have assumed critical leadership roles in the battle against climate change.
"Part of their leadership here is calling the other levels of government to step forward and deal with the problem that's affecting the citizens of the United States," he says.
The third and final listening session on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan will take place on March 27th in Gillette, Wyoming.