We, the undersigned elected officials from across the United States, are deeply concerned about the devastating impacts of climate change and pollution caused by the extraction, processing, and burning of fossil fuels on the communities we represent.
Record droughts, heat waves, wildfires, coastal flooding, ocean acidification, and storms are costing lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in damages in our communities. Our nation’s mightiest cities have been flooded by unprecedented superstorms including Sandy, Katrina, Harvey, and Maria. Scientists warn that the impacts will continue to worsen, and our military is responding to climate change as a key threat to national security.
Additionally, fossil fuel production and burning, the primary driver of climate change, causes serious local impacts and harm to public health from air pollution, water contamination, leaks, explosions and other dangers. Like climate change, the impacts from oil, gas, and coal disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color, and exacerbate social inequalities.
Fossil fuel companies knew about the damage their product causes for half a century, yet spent billions of dollars to hamstring society’s response. Decades of denial, misinformation, and lobbying from the fossil fuel industry has delayed critical action to transition our society from its current dependence on fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy and has cost people’s lives.
As leaders responsible for America’s present and future prosperity, we must significantly raise the bar for climate leadership and set our nation on a new path. We join with states, cities, businesses, and institutions that are already taking bold action to protect public health and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in energy efficiency and clean energy like wind and solar. Honoring the role of workers in building the America of today, we need to ensure our workers are supported in building the clean energy economy of tomorrow, reducing pollution while expanding opportunity.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, addressing climate change will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” Recognizing that we are in a climate emergency, the tremendous costs of climate change and fossil fuels to our communities, and the grave public health and environmental justice consequences of fossil fuel production, we urge jurisdictions through America to commit to:
1. Producing 100% clean, renewable energy, starting with significant investments in disadvantaged communities and places most affected by pollution and currently dependent on fossil fuel jobs.
2. End permitting of new oil, gas, and coal projects and infrastructure, and begin a swift, managed decline of fossil fuel production, starting with phasing out production within a 2,500-foot public health buffer zone of occupied buildings and vulnerable areas, where the greatest harms occur.
3. End public subsidization of fossil fuels, divest from fossil fuel companies, and shift public investments to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy and help pay for the harm fossil fuels cause our states and municipalities; for example, a modest fee on fossil fuel production would generate billions of dollars to support workers and communities in the transition to 100% clean energy, creating good, family-sustaining jobs and stimulating our economies.
This is the bold climate leadership we need to protect our public health, communities, and economies and lead us forward. By taking these actions and investing significantly more in energy efficiency, clean vehicles and buildings, public transportation, renewable energy, and other innovative solutions, we will create millions of jobs and a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future for all Americans now and in the future.