Utah: Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall Helped Residents with Water Conservation Efforts

Utah: Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is helping Salt Lake City residents conserve water with an innovative new tool that calculates how much water homeowners need to maintain their landscapes. Utilizing software developed by Utah State University, the city’s Department of Public Utilities will provide WaterMAPS reports to residents to help them reduce water usage and save dollars as the city continues to grapple with drought conditions.

The reports consider water meter data, local weather, and a property’s plant types to offer a Landscape Irrigation Ratio, which tells residents how much water they need to sustain their landscape rather than how much they actually need.

Mayors Kate Gallego & Ron Nirenberg Lead Initiatives to Protect Communities from Extreme Heat

In a summer of record temperatures, state and local leaders are working to keep residents safe in the scorching heat. For NewDEAL Leader and Phoenix, AZ, Mayor Kate Gallego, innovative solutions like city-wide cooling centers and regular water distribution help to curb the impacts of extreme heat for the most vulnerable community members. Collaboration with the federal government and local nonprofits has been instrumental in getting citizens, including those who live in homeless encampments, out of the streets and inside. Phoenix boasts over 60 cooling centers that provide shelter for those facing housing insecurity. “But my goal would be to get people inside in air-conditioned environments,” Gallego said of Phoenix’s long term plans.

In San Antonio, TX, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, a NewDEAL Leader, has fought to maintain local control as the Republican-controlled state legislature undermines safety initiatives that would protect workers from extreme heat. But there’s hope at the national level, Nirenberg noted in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation. Last week, at a virtual convening with Mayors Gallego, Nirenberg, and others, President Biden announced a $7 million spending plan from the Inflation Reduction Act for improved heat forecasting and a $152 million plan from the 2021 Infrastructure law for climate infrastructure in the southwest. “We’re certainly grateful for a president now that’s treating this heatwave with the urgency that I think is necessary,” Nirenberg said.


New Democrat Coalition Releases Economic Opportunity Agenda

This week, the Congressional New Democrat Coalition released their Economic Opportunity Agenda, a comprehensive policy plan that outlines how Congress and the Biden Administration can continue cutting costs for families and growing the middle class. Much of the agenda is focused on effectively implementing federal legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and Inflation Reduction Act.

The agenda identifies eight key issue areas where Congress can make progress, including permitting reform to streamline the construction of clean energy infrastructure, eliminating discriminatory zoning practices to encourage affordable housing construction, passing a Farm Bill that helps produce more affordable, high-quality food in America, and much more. “New Dems remain committed to working with the Biden Administration and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on policies that will continue lowering costs and creating a strong economy that empowers all Americans to succeed,” the group’s leadership said. For more on the Economic Opportunity Agenda, see Semafor’s coverage.


Boston Mayor Michelle Wu Ordered the Elimination of Fossil Fuels in City Buildings Under Construction

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed an executive order eliminating the use of fossil fuels in city buildings that will be under construction or major renovation. “The benefits of embracing fossil fuel-free infrastructure in our City hold no boundary across industries and communities, and Boston will continue using every possible tool to build the green, clean, healthy, and prosperous future our city deserves,” Wu said. By implementing environmental protections, Wu is also supporting green-friendly businesses. Under a partnership between the Worker Empowerment Cabinet, the Environment Department, Department of Youth Employment and Opportunity, and the Boston Centers for Youth & Families, PowerCorpsBOS trains Boston residents for jobs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in large buildings by learning skills to maintain optimal building operations.

Senators Will Smith & Sarah Elfreth: Protecting Environmental Rights in Maryland

This session, the Maryland legislature will consider making access to clean air and water part of the state constitution. The Maryland Environmental Human Rights Amendment, co-sponsored by NewDEALers Senator Will Smith and Senator Sarah Elfreth, would help the legislature pursue significant climate solutions, while also providing legal protections for residents disproportionately affected by pollution, usually communities of color. Because it is a proposed constitutional amendment, the legislation will need to pass both legislative chambers before appearing as a ballot measure this November. Read more about the Maryland Environmental Human Rights Amendment here.

Senator Ben Allen: Cracking Down on Plastic Pollution

NewDEAL Leader California Ben Allen scored a victory for a cleaner environment, as Governor Gavin Newsom signed his bill to reduce plastic packaging and foodware last Thursday. Requiring a 25 percent reduction by both weight and number of items within the next 10 years, the bill is the toughest plastic reduction bill in the nation thus far. The bill also mandates a 65 percent recycling rate for plastics, requires all packaging and foodware be made recyclable or compostable even if not plastic, and requires plastic companies to contribute to a pollution mitigation fund to benefit disadvantaged or low-income communities. Read more in Grist about Senator Allen’s bill, which one expert says will prevent nearly 23 million tons of plastic waste in just 10 years.

Mayor Greg Fischer: New Emissions Target in Louisville

This week, NewDEALer Louisville, KY Mayor Greg Fischer signed an executive order aimed at reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the next two decades. The new order puts Louisville on track to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2040. The city plans to achieve the reduction by increasing its reliance on electric vehicles and promoting homes powered by solar energy. “When it comes to our built environment, we will build on strategies in our emissions reduction plan such as making buildings and energy more efficient and getting solar on more homes,” Fischer said. Read more about the air quality initiative here.

New Plan to Boost Local Food System in Lincoln

This week, NewDEAL Leader Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird unveiled Lincoln’s Local Food System Plan, a thorough effort to support local producers, increase equitable access to high-quality food, and reduce food waste. The plan, developed by a 10-member community committee, hopes to double the acres where local food is grown in the Lincoln area and triple the number of community gardens by 2035. “Lincoln’s new Local Food System Plan will position our community to reap the benefits of a thriving local food system — supporting local farmers, expanding markets, creating jobs, increasing food security, improving health outcomes, reducing carbon emissions and instilling a sense of pride in our community,” Gaylor Baird said. Read more about the plan here.

Outgoing Denver Mayor Michael Hancock Joins Climate Migration Council

NewDEAL Leader Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will join the Climate Migration Council, a coalition of world leaders who hope to shine a spotlight on the imminent crisis of climate change-induced migration. Hancock is a longtime advocate for local government action on the issue of climate change. In his final State of the City address last July, Hancock reiterated his concern for Denver’s most vulnerable communities given the growing threat of wildfires, droughts, and other climate-induced natural disasters. In his statement announcing the decision, Mayor Hancock reiterated the importance of community-based action, writing that “all action starts locally, and when progress stalls at the national level, cities will step in to stand in the gap. We want to ensure our community is resilient and welcoming for generations to come, which is why climate action and sustainability are core values in the City and County of Denver.” Read more about the Climate Migration Council which also includes NewDEALers Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, here.


CLEAN ENERGY – Tennessee: Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris – opened a new solar array project

CLEAN ENERGY – Tennessee: Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris opened a new solar array project that will generate clean energy and offset emissions equal to 664,000 miles driven in a car and 30,000 gallons of gas. “Transitioning to solar-powered energy is one way for us to reduce our shared impact on the environment, save taxpayer dollars, and increase our resilience to the worst effects of climate change,” said Harris.