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U.S. mayors ask EPA not to repeal Clean Power Plan in new letter

233 mayors from 46 states and territories say repeal would harm air quality, public health, and climate

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A bipartisan group of city leader known as the Climate Mayors released a joint letter today imploring the EPA not to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a move they warn would damage public health, clean air initiatives, and efforts to combat climate change.

The group of civic leader, 233 mayors from 46 states and territories representing 51 million Americans, released the joint letter, set to coincide with an EPA listening session set to take place tomorrow in Kansas City, Missouri. Mayors from Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, along with hundreds of others, have signed the letter.

The cities argue that, as the centers of commerce and population, they are on the front lines of climate change. The Clean Power Plan is critical to get government at every level to collaborate to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

In addition to cutting pollution from power plants and transportation, the mayors argue that the price of inaction against climate change is too high. The letter states that the annual price tag for coastal storm damage is expected to climb to $35 billion by the 2030s.

This collective action comes at a time when cities are increasing taking the lead in the climate change battle in the United States. Cities have pledged to stay in the Paris Climate Accords, transition to renewable power, and work together as a group to push more environmentally sustainable policies.

“The nearly 400 members of the Climate Mayors network have already begun to implement policies to drive emission reductions and address adaptation concerns in their cities,” says Sarah King, a project manager for the Climate Mayors group. “I believe that this mayoral focus on effective climate policies will continue regardless of whether or not the Clean Power Plan is in fact repealed. “

King points to plans for collective action, such as procuring electric vehicles for city fleets, the mayors are already planning to undertake.

But without federal assistance, the road to climate change mitigation become much more difficult.

“[W]e cannot act alone,” the statement says. “We need the federal government to provide a path forward to making meaningful reductions in carbon pollution while preparing for the impacts of climate change.”

The letter explains why the Clean Power Plan is so vital to local plans to combat pollution and reduce carbon emissions:

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to protect our citizens against the worst impacts of climate change. A peer reviewed study conducted by EPA projected stark differences between a world in the year 2100 where global warming averages 2 degrees Celsius—a goal for which the Clean Power Plan is critical—and one in which global warming averages 4 degrees Celsius: 57,000 fewer domestic deaths per year due to poor air quality; 12,000 fewer domestic deaths per year from extreme heat and cold in 49 U.S. cities; up to $6.4 billion in avoided annual adaptation costs from severe precipitation in 50 U.S. cities; $3.1 billion in avoided annual damages and adaptation costs from sea level rise and storm surge on the coasts; and up to $2.5 billion in avoided damages from inland flooding.