Mayors Praise Block Grant to Reduce Global Warming
The United States Conference of Mayors, led by President and Trenton, NJ, mayor Douglas H. Palmer, praised Congressman Albert R. Wynn (MD) for introducing legislation that will help cities and states accelerate their energy efficiency efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in communities nationwide. The measure called the Energy and Environment Block Grant Act of 2007 (H.R. 2447), would establish a new block grant program, similar to HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, that supplies formula-based grants to cities, counties, and states to help address the problem of global warming and energy dependence at the local and neighborhood level.
“Representative Wynn’s bill will result in actions by communities in Maryland and throughout the country that will begin to address the global warming crises before this nation and the world,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors President Palmer.
These funds will help reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emission by funding local initiatives, including:
–building and home energy conservations programs
–fuel conservation programs
–support of alternative fuels
–building retrofits to increase energy efficiency
–“Smart Growth” planning and zoning
–alternative energy programs.
The legislation is based on the Conference’s recommendation in the Mayor’s 10-Point Plan Strong Cities, Strong Families, for a Strong America.
“This is a pivotal time for our nation given the scale of our energy and climate changes,” said Conference Executive Director Tom Cochran. “This legislation will enable mayors to for energy and climate what CDBG has done for community development.”
Specifically, the measure authorizes $4 billion for FY08, rising to an annual level of $6 billion by 2012. The program delivers a one-time grant to mayors, county executives, and governors to support development of an energy efficiency and climate protection strategy. The Secretary of Energy is directed to allocate seventy percent of all funds to cities of 50,000 or more in population and counties of 200,000 or more in population, with the remaining 30 percent allocated to states, principally for redirecting grant funds to local governments that do not meet the population thresholds.
Earlier in the month, the Senate Committee on Energy and National Resources, approved a broad energy package that included its own version of the block grant that also reflects key elements of the Conference’s plan.
In absence of current federal legislation to support climate protection activities in cities, mayors have taken individual action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, more than 500 mayors have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. Under the agreement, mayors who sign commit to reduce carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels. This spring, the Conference launched a full-time Mayors Climate Protection Center to provide resources and tools for mayors.
Source: U.S. Conference of Mayors.