Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Indiana Chamber rebuffs newly registered coal lobbyist Scott Pruitt ... Hurricane-recovering Florida Panhandle braces for wildfires ... Tennessee considers plan to fit school buses with traffic cameras.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week rolled out his “OneNYC 2050” sweeping climate action plan meant to make the city carbon neutral by 2050. Municipal buildings, according to the plan, would be powered by hydro-energy produced in Canada. The city government would ban single-use plastics and reduce by 50 percent its purchases of beef and processed meats. In the announcement ceremony, de Blasio said the benefits of the plan would be well worth its estimated $14 billion price tag and that it would help head off the drastic changes carbon pollution will force on city residents. “Every day we wait is a day our planet gets closer to the point of no-return,” de Blasio said on Monday, which was Earth Day. “New York City’s Green New Deal meets that reality head on. We are confronting the same interests that created the climate crisis and that deepened inequality. There’s no time to waste. We’re taking action now, before it’s too late.” De Blasio’s announcement came in the wake of news that New York City Council members in a landslide vote last week approved a package of precedent-setting carbon reduction measures. New York’s Climate Mobilization Act will require major residential and commercial buildings in the city, including Trump Tower, to reduce planet-warming emissions 40 percent by 2040 and 80 percent by 2050. The proposal will increase the number of green roofs and the number of solar and wind energy structures in the city. It also launches an effort to replace the city’s 24 power plants with renewable energy generation and storage technologies. [Brooklyn Eagle, Gothamist, The Hill]
COAL POWER | The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is refusing to support coal-industry-boosting state legislation being promoted by Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration EPA chief who resigned in scandal last year. Pruitt registered this year in Indiana as a coal-industry lobbyist and is struggling to win support for a bill aimed at slowing the transition among utilities in the state from coal to cleaner sources of power generation. The influential Chamber of Commerce said the bill would raise electricity rates on local businesses and residents. [Reuters]
RIPPLING NATURAL DISASTERS | Hurricane Michael last October bulldozed the Florida Panhandle, overturning homes like dollhouses and uprooting thousands of lives. It also left millions of acres of felled pine trees—now vast fields of crackly timber it would take untold resources to manage. The region’s dry season has begun. One frightening wildfire has already scorched the Panama City area. [Scientific American]
BUS CAMERAS | Tennessee House members this week voted in favor of a $13 million proposal to install cameras on the state’s school buses in order to catch auto and truck drivers who navigate around buses stopped, with their sideboard stop signs elevated, to drop off school children. Lawmakers cited a fiscal review that estimated thousands of car drivers were illegally passing stopped school buses every day in the state. The current traffic fine for passing a stopped school bus in Tennessee is $50. [Tennessean]
CYBER ATTACK | Someone targeted the municipal computer system in Augusta, Maine, last week. A malicious virus let loose into the system succeeded in freezing the network, including public safety dispatch equipment, financial systems, automobile excise tax and assessor records. Officials said they didn’t believe the hackers got hold of any city data. [Kennebec Journal]
SECURITY BREACH | Louisiana state police last week arrested a man who had apparently broken into the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge, damaged an antique table, and then fell asleep on one of the residence couches. That is where police found him, at 6 a.m., still asleep. Authorities didn’t comment immediately as to how the man breached the mansion security nor whether Gov. John Bel Edwards or any of his family were in the mansion at the time. [Associated Press]
John Tomasic is a journalist who lives in Seattle.