Cities, Counties and Major Tech Companies Join in Support for Clean Power Plan

Guest Blog | April 4, 2016 | Climate Change, Energy Policy
SACE joined Clean Power Plan supporters as they took to the streets of Atlanta to call for action on climate during EPA's 2014 public hearings on the draft regulation.

Last week, more than 50 state and county governments, representing 28 states, along with global tech leaders like Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, joined the list of groups filing briefs in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, known as amicus briefs.

As reported in a previous blog, our nation’s best hope at reigning in dangerous carbon pollution from our energy sector was put on pause when the Supreme Court made a recent, unprecedented ruling. This speed bump, however, has not caused supporters of the Clean Power Plan to abandon ship. Instead, advocate groups, major companies and city and county governments have joined the legal battle to help bolster EPA as it fights industry and coal dependent states in the courts.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities along with city mayors and attorneys (including the mayor of SACE headquarter’s hometown, Knoxville, TN) signed an amicus brief explaining why the Clean Power Plan is a crucial tool in ensuring the safety and economic security of communities across our nation.

Representatives of the Southeast that signed on to the filing include: Town/City Attorneys for Chapel Hill, NC, Coral Gables, FL, Cutler Bay, FL, Miami, FL, Miami Beach, FL, and West Palm Beach, FL and Mayors of Knoxville, TN, Clarkston, GA, Orlando, FL, and Pinecrest, FL. In their brief, these city and county leaders acknowledge that they will be the ones on the frontlines when it comes to helping communities deal with increasingly severe weather events:

“Cities’ efforts to adapt to a changing climate and to mitigate its causes are highly sensitive to national policies like the Clean Power Plan, which shape national markets, steer state action, and have the largest impact on nationwide emissions … Cities working to shoulder the burdens of adaptation would therefore face an ever harder—and ever more expensive—task in the absence of the Clean Power Plan.”

Along with these community leaders, major tech companies, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, also filed an amicus brief in the Clean Power Plan case, and offered a unique view as some of the largest consumers of energy in our country. Last year, these companies used 10 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity collectively, which includes 50 data centers in 12 states. (Don’t forget, two new Google data centers are soon to be located in the Southeast – in AL and TN!) Each of these tech giants is committed to sourcing their power from sustainable, renewable energy. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and is currently the largest non-utility renewable energy purchaser in the world!

As we all know, many cities across the nation rely on these large companies to bring jobs and revenue to their communities. More and more, large companies are making decisions on where to invest based on their own moral compasses. One recent example, in SACE’s own backyard, was the response to the Georgia legislature’s passage of what many called an “anti-gay” bill, when major companies, like Delta, Coca-Cola, Viacom, Intel, Unilever and the NFL, threatened to pull out of the state if the bill was ultimately enacted. It’s not hard to imagine some of these same companies using the same approach to city and state leaders who continue to deny the existence of climate change and actively work to stymie efforts to combat climate change.

We applaud these leaders and companies for standing up to protect our communities, our economies and our environment!

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