US mayors back plan for cities to use only renewable energy

MIAMI BEACH — A bipartisan group of mayors from across the country unanimously backed an ambitious commitment for US cities to run entirely on renewable sources such as wind and solar in two decades.

As the US Conference of Mayors wrapped up in Miami Beach on Monday, leaders from more than 250 cities voted on symbolic resolutions pushing back against President Trump on climate change and immigration.

‘‘Mayors have been involved in the frontline of climate and energy issues for so long, but the president’s actions have really just ignited the excitement of mayors and citizens who want to get to do a whole lot more,’’ said Steve Benjamin, the Democratic mayor of Columbia, S.C., who proposed the clean-air resolution with three other mayors.


Most mayors also signed a deal to do their part to uphold the terms of the Paris climate accords, even after the Trump administration pulled out of the agreement.

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They also strongly rejected plans to increase immigration enforcement and vowed to persuade federal lawmakers to reinstate a popular $3 billion program (Community Development Block Grants) that funds local projects across the country. Trump proposes eliminating the grants.

The clean-energy resolution is one of the many measures that will be sent to Congress and the White House hoping to influence legislation. It was proposed by Democratic mayors in the Republican-dominated states of South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Iowa.

In Washington, Republicans and Democrats remain deeply divided over how to deal with climate change. But cities and states are slowly shaping policies to fight floods and add renewable sources of energy.

More than 25 US cities such as San Diego and Salt Lake City have already adopted the clean-energy policy, and six smaller cities including Aspen, Colo., and Burlington, Vt., have reached goals of generating 100 percent of the energy through renewable sources.


Traditional energy sources still dominate, with many cities saying they need their states to pass legislation to smooth the transition.

David Sandalow, a former undersecretary of energy in President Barack Obama’s administration who is now at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, called it an ‘‘ambitious goal.’’ It’s “certainly possible in some cities, much more challenging in others,’’ he said.

Billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg also addressed the mayors on Monday, announcing a $200 million initiative for cities to take on projects that address issues from climate change to gun violence and immigration.

Eager to help local leaders bypass Washington, Bloomberg’s foundation is putting up more than $17 million for a new contest that encourages the nation’s mayors to address critical issues themselves.

The new effort comes as local leaders are increasingly concerned about the impact of the Trump administration’s policies.


Thirty five cities will ultimately win $100,000, while four more receive $1 million and one grand prize winner gets $5 million. There is no limit to the focus of the projects, but some are expected to address Bloomberg priorities such as climate change, the opioid epidemic, illegal guns and obesity.

‘‘It’s a critical moment to support US cities,’’ said James Anderson, a senior official at Bloomberg Philanthropies. He suggested mayors currently face challenges ‘‘from all directions,’’ including overbearing elected officials in state capitals and Washington.

During an appearance last week on ABC’s ‘‘The View,’’ Bloomberg noted that he did not vote for Trump but he offered signs of tepid support for the Republican president.

‘‘In the end, we’re a democracy. The public has spoken whether you like the results or not, other than with a little help from the Russians, he was elected,’’ Bloomberg said.