Our Letter to the President - April 2016 (methane and energy storage)

April 15, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500


Dear President Obama,


As mayors committed to leading the fight against climate change, we believe the recent Aliso Canyon gas leak has pointed out the challenges facing communities where similar oil and gas infrastructure is found. Each of our cities shares concerns about these facilities, including health and safety, as well as the methane released from natural gas and oil production, consumption, storage, and transport.


We have come together through the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA) to support action on climate change. Given that methane is a potent, short lived climate pollutant–84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short-term—we write to you today.


First, thank you for your March 10 commitment to ensuring that the U.S. EPA moves forward expeditiously on rules to limit methane emissions from new sources, per your commitment last summer, and critically, from existing sources of oil and gas production infrastructure. This action is vitally important as we need rules that address methane leaks throughout the entire life-cycle of oil and gas, including both production and consumption.


Such rules would not only have a climate benefit, but they would reduce the costly waste of energy resources. These rules would also serve to cut the toxic soup of air contaminants that are released alongside methane not just from oil and gas production, but from their transportation and storage as well. This is a risk that threatens every city.


However, the climate benefits from these rules can be undermined by lack of oversight elsewhere in the value chain, and lagging advancement of renewable energy and alternative forms of storage of energy. Therefore, we are asking for your leadership in rapidly addressing these issues in two additional ways:


1. Direct the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to add regulation of oil and gas storage facilities along with interstate pipelines.

To date, storage facilities and interstate transportation infrastructure have been overlooked. The risk of such a gap in oversight has been highlighted most recently by the disaster at Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles where a gaswell leaked more methane than ever experienced in the United States and led to the emergency relocation of over 5,000 residents in the neighboring communities. Most leaks aren’t as big as Aliso Canyon, but they add up to a much larger problem in aggregate.


2. Research energy storage technologies to pair with renewables.

We ask that you enlist the expertise of the Department of Energy to study alternatives for existing natural gas storage facilities. Namely, we propose a redoubled emphasis on energy storage technologies, including battery storage, pumped hydro storage, and compressed air storage among other methods, which can make intermittent renewable energy production technologies more viable throughout the day. This technology would allow for the continued use of existing infrastructure, but serve as a much safer and cleaner strategy for addressing peak energy demand in comparison to natural gas-fired generation. Financing should also be made available to cities to help them move buildings and homes toward clean technologies such as battery storage paired with grid-tied solar installations.


Thankfully, in the wake of the leak at Aliso Canyon, U.S. Secretary of Energy Moniz announced on April 1 the Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety. We ask for your support in ensuring the task force addresses both these matters, and other related issues they identify. Please know we stand ready to help support and contribute to the work of the task force if and as possible.


We understand that our economy will continue to rely on fossil fuels for the near future. However, the oil and gas industry must not imperil our air quality, our public health, and our climate through leaks and venting. The public relies on all of us to make decisions that protect their health and welfare.


Sincerely,


Mayor Eric Garcetti
City of Los Angeles

Mayor Steve Skadron
City of Aspen

Mayor Steve Adler
City of Austin

Mayor Tom Bates
City of Berkeley

Mayor Suzanne Jones
City of Boulder

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Mayor of Chicago

Mayor Michael Hancock
City of Denver

Mayor Muriel Bowser
District of Columbia

Mayor Sly James
City of Kansas City

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City of New York

Mayor Libby Shaaf
City of Oakland

Mayor Charlie Hales
City of Portland

cc: Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Anthony Foxx, Secretary of U.S. Department of Transportation
Ernest Moniz, Secretary of U.S. Department of Energy
Marie Therese Dominguez, Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

#climatemayors

U.S. Mayors Back Bold Climate Action In Paris

LOS ANGELES, CA. – The founders of the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA) – L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Houston Mayor Annise Parker – joined more than 60 mayors in issuing a video and statement today that backs “the strongest possible” international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“Reaching a strong deal in Paris starts with us,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Cities are responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and around the world mayors are leading the way in fighting climate change and creating more sustainable, livable communities.”

Advocacy group Environment America produced the video in coordination with MNCAA, a domestic initiative designed to demonstrate the essential role of cities in climate change solutions and build political will for U.S. leadership. MNCAA launched their #ClimateMayors social media campaign on the eve of the final 100 days to the start of the UN climate talks in Paris which start on November 30.

The video, which encourages more cities to join with their fellow #ClimateMayors, comes as mayors plan to join other leaders next week in Paris for the 21stConference of Parties, or COP21, where it’s hoped an international plan can be crafted to aggressively cut pollution and spur faster development of clean energy sources such as wind and solar.

According to the United Nations Human Settlement Program, cities are home to half the world’s population, and create the bulk of the world’s global warming pollution. From rising seas to wildfires to drought, mayors and other local officials are also often on the front lines of global warming’s most negative impacts.

“Cities are not only feeling the problem, they’re part of the problem,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker says in the video.

“But cities can be part of the solution,” continues Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in the video, which also includes activists calling for bold climate action in multiple languages.

In the letter to be delivered to the White House, the founders of MNCAA along with 63 other mayors said, “cities across the country are already taking the lead,” and have reached national pollution reduction targets ahead of state and national governments.”

“But,” the mayors wrote, “we cannot act alone. 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 push from the mayors comes as Congress continues its assault on the federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants that are the centerpiece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Last week the full Senate and a key House committee voted to repeal the Clean Power Plan, and a full vote in the House is expected next week.

While the Clean Power Plan is expected to survive these attacks, opponents to climate action have made clear their aim is to undermine the President’s negotiating authority in Paris. The mayors wrote in their letter, however, that the congressional attacks didn’t reflect the posture of most Americans on the threat of global warming.

Leading up to COP21, more than 150 countries making up more than 90 percent of the world’s climate pollution have pledged pollution reductions. Scientists say worldwide greenhouse gas pollution must be cut upwards of 80 percent to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change.

“We urge world leaders to chart a course for 100 percent clean energy to solve the climate crisis,” said Madeline Page, outreach director for Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions program. “And it’s inspiring to see mayors from across the U.S representing millions of Americans pushing President Obama to lead the way to a bold climate agreement.”

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Mayors Laud President's ‘Clean Power Plan’

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Houston Mayor Annise Parker – who co-founded the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda with Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia – issued the following statement regarding the President’s Clean Power Plan that was released today:

“We don’t need more debate on climate change from Washington; we need action, and that’s what we’re seeing from President Obama today,” Mayors Garcetti and Parker said. “Today’s Clean Power Plan will add to the benefits we’re already seeing from our cities’ strong leadership against climate change, including cleaner air and thousands of green jobs.”

The Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, which is now 28 mayors-strong, recently called on President Obama for strong federal action on climate change in the face of Congressional gridlock and for strong leadership by the US at the upcoming UN climate change negotiations in Paris (scroll down to see an earlier post of the MNCAA’s call on the President).

Mayors Garcetti and Parker noted that cities are on the front lines when it comes to the effects of climate change and responding to them, including
extreme heat and weather, sea level rise and drought. Cities are also generate 70 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

To make Los Angeles a leader in showing the path forward against climate change, Mayor Garcetti set a target of reducing Los Angeles’ greenhouse gas
emissions by 80 percent by 2050. He has also committed to making LADWP coal free, which in the wake of the city’s recent divestment from the coal-powered Navajo Generating Station, is now on track to happen by 2025. Mayor Garcetti’s agenda, which also includes aggressive solar power and green building targets, is detailed in the city’s first-ever Sustainable City pLAn (see: plan.lamayor.org).

To make Houston a leader against climate change, Mayor Parker is on track to meet a near-term goal of reducing the City of Houston’s greenhouse gas emissions by 42 percent by 2016. She also set a long-term reductions goal of 80 percent by 2050. Mayor Parker is committed to continuing Houston’s leadership as the largest municipal purchaser of renewable energy in the nation, with 50 percent of the City’s energy coming from renewable sources and a 30 MW solar project soon to be approved. The City of Houston is also implementing the largest LED streetlight conversion in the nation, helping the City meet stringent energy efficiency goals.

Mayor Garcetti also announced today that he has appointed Lauren Faber as Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer to help drive implementation of the Sustainable City pLAn, advance the climate policies in the pLAn, pursue additional funding for programs like the recent CARB grant for EV car sharing in disadvantaged communities, and other priorities. She joins the Garcetti Administration from the Environmental Defense Fund where she served as West Coast Political Director. She was previously with the California Environmental Protection Agency and the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Lauren will report to the Mayor’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Matt Petersen.

Mayors Parker and Garcetti serve on the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group global steering committee and represented Houston and Los Angeles on President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Mayor Garcetti also recently announced that Los Angeles will host the US China Low Carbon Cities Summit later this year.

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Joint Statement from LA & Houston Mayors on Climate/Vatican

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who co-founded the Mayors National Climate Change Agenda (MNCAA) along with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, issued the following statement as Mayors from around the world gathered for the Vatican’s symposium on climate change and modern slavery hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences.  MNCAA Mayors attending the symposium include Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

The symposium follows Pope Francis’ encyclical calling for action against climate change and in advance of the UN climate conference in Paris where world leaders will convene to negotiate a new international agreement to combat climate change.

“Mayors are on the front lines when climate change causes drought, incites extreme weather, and erodes our coastlines. We need the world’s leaders to think like mayors and share our sense of urgency in negotiating a bold climate change agreement,” Mayors Garcetti and Parker said in a joint statement. “We are proud to join those mayors who are gathered at the Vatican in signing the Papal declaration for action on climate change and urge our nation’s mayors to continue leading the way. We must lead in the face of federal inaction.”

In a letter delivered to the White House last month, the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda directly called upon President Obama to fight for the strongest possible climate agreement at the UN climate conference and announced it is launching a campaign to support the President and the U.S. delegation to the conference in pushing for strong action on climate change (SEE EARLIER BLOG POSTS BELOW).

This fall, Mayor Garcetti will host U.S. and Chinese mayors and other sub-national leaders in Los Angeles for the U.S.-China Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit, an outcome of the landmark climate change agreement announced by U.S. President Barack Obama and China President Xi Jinping last fall in Beijing. 

The agreement between Presidents Obama and Xi includes new targets for carbon emissions and reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030. It also launched the Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Initiative to respond to growing urbanization and increasingly significant greenhouse gas emissions from cities. 

The summit will mark the first effort of that initiative and will bring together local leaders from both countries for a multiple-day conference featuring a high-level plenary at which leaders declare their resolve, ambition, and actions; working level technical exchanges to share experience and best practices; and an exhibition to engage the private sector.  

The Mayors National Climate Action Agenda includes:

  • Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor
  • Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron
  • Austin Mayor Steve Adler
  • Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed
  • Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates
  • Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum
  • Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter
  • Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman
  • Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
  • Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell
  • Houston Mayor Annise Parker
  • Kansas City Mayor Sly James
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges
  • Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
  • Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
  • Park City Mayor Jack Thomas
  • Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
  • Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
  • Portland Mayor Charlie Hales
  • Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker
  • San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee
  • San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
  • Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown
  • Seattle Mayor Ed Murray
  • Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone
  • Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland

The work of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda in the U.S. is complemented at the international level by the Compact of Mayors, a global cooperative effort among mayors and city officials committed to reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing resilience to climate change, and tracking progress transparently. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his Special Envoy Michael R. Bloomberg, and city networks including ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) are working together to highlight and engage cities in the lead up to the UN climate conference, known as COP21. In the United States, the efforts of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network has been important in advancing MNCAA, including through the USDN-led Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance.  

Connect with the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda at:
www.facebook.com/climatemayors 
@climatemayors

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The President Heard Our Call!

“Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House Rogan Patel told the U.S. Conference of Mayors June 19 that the administration is looking to U.S. mayors to support the Clean Power Plan, particularly since many of them are leading the effort to address climate change in the country. 27 mayors outlined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda in a June 18 letter to President Obama calling on the administration to negotiate a strong global climate agreement in Paris at the end of the year as well as for federal action to establish binding national greenhouse gas emission limits.”

http://www.natlawreview.com/article/energy-and-environmental-law-update-june-22-2015

Mayors Call on President for Climate Action in US, At Paris Conference

Mayors National Climate Action Agenda Now Includes 27 Cities

Like and Follow Us: fb.com/ClimateMayors - @ClimateMayors

JUNE 18 – The Mayors National Climate Action Agenda today called on President Obama to fight for the strongest possible climate agreement at the upcoming 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, and for federal action to establish binding national greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the United States.

The nationwide coalition of mayors also announced it is launching a campaign to support the President and the U.S. delegation in Paris in pushing for strong action on climate change.

The Mayors National Climate Action Agenda made its call and committed to its campaign of support in a letter delivered to the White House today. Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced the letter at a climate change action event hosted by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in his city on the eve of the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors there.

Mayor Parker co-founded the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. The three Mayors represent the largest cities on the Presidential Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

“The time for strong U.S. action is now. We look forward to standing with you here at home and in Paris to bring leadership and focus to the reality of climate change and to urge national dialogue and action,” the letter stated. “We are writing to call on you to act in the best interests of the American people and fight for the strongest possible climate agreement. The United States can and should be the leader in the transition to a clean energy economy.

“Cities across the country are already taking the lead. But we cannot act alone. 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.

“To support your leadership and assist you and the U.S. delegation in reaching the strongest possible agreement, we are launching a campaign today to engage with our constituents, elected officials and other stakeholders to help achieve … strong outcomes at the national and international levels, while building on municipal leadership on climate change.

“Momentum is building for international coordination. COP21 represents a prime opportunity for American leadership. We recognize that local governments have a major role to play in reducing greenhouse gas levels. We are encouraged that there is interest on the part of COP 21 for having language in the final agreement that specifically pertains to cities.”

The Mayors National Climate Action Agenda also announced today it now includes:

·      Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor

·      Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron

·      Austin Mayor Steve Adler

·      Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

·      Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates

·      Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum

·      Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter

·      Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman

·      Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

·      Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell

·      Houston Mayor Annise Parker

·      Kansas City Mayor Sly James

·      Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

·      Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges

·      Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

·      Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

·      Park City Mayor Jack Thomas

·      Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter

·      Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

·      Portland Mayor Charlie Hales

·      Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker

·      San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

·      San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo

·      Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown

·      Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

·      Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone

·      Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland

The work of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda in the U.S. is complemented at the international level by the Compact of Mayors, a global cooperative effort among mayors and city officials committed to reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing resilience to climate change, and tracking progress transparently. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his Special Envoy Michael R. Bloomberg, and city networks including ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) are working together to highlight and engage cities in the lead up to COP21. In the United States, the efforts of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network has been important in advancing MNCAA, including through the USDN-led Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance.