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.

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.

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ARP: Preparing Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow

Problem

According to the Congressional Research Service, in general, persons with lower educational attainment experience relatively higher unemployment rates compared to peers with high levels of educational attainment. This population was also hit hardest during the pandemic with the highest rates of unemployment. Furthermore the report found that persons identifying as Black or Hispanic and younger workers also experienced relatively high levels of unemployment and relatively steep declines in labor force participation over the course of the pandemic.

Solution

Mayor Wu announced more than half a million dollars in American Rescue Plan funding for four organizations to provide training for green and mobility jobs. These specific grants will target populations hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including individuals experiencing homelessness, residents recently released from incarceration, and women and people of color from under-represented neighborhoods.

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Will Smith and Sarah Elfreth, Senators (Silver Spring and Annapolis, Maryland)

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.

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Prioritizing Climate Equity

Problem:

Climate change impacts are felt all over the country and especially in underserved communities. In Wisconsin, rising heat threatens rich agricultural land and Milwaukee and Madison grapple with pollution-exacerbated injustices. As communities seek out solutions, it is important that leaders engage within the communities and ensure their voices are incorporated into building a greener, more resilient, and equitable future.

Solution:

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes is leading Wisconsin’s efforts to take big climate action through community engagement. As chair of the state’s new Task Force on Climate Change, Barnes brought together a diverse coalition of business, community, labor, youth, and Indigenous leaders to participate in the task force and the group scheduled listening sessions to gather ideas from constituents on how to best reach the ambitious climate goals to go 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. As COVID-19 tore across the country, the Task Force quickly pivoted to virtual meetings that convened a broad swath of residents, including Indigenous organizations working on climate adaptations, organizations developing green jobs in predominantly Black neighborhoods, and tribal nations working on food sovereignty. These conversations are creating space for dairy farmers, rural constituents, and low-income communities and communities of color to advocate for their needs as the state continues to build a robust, climate-friendly, worker-focused economy and ensure that no Wisconsin community is left behind in the transition to a clean economy.

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2021 Ideas Challenge Finalists

The NewDEAL is pleased to announce the finalists from this year’s Ideas Challenge, our biennial policy competition highlighting innovative policy solutions from NewDEAL Leaders across the nation. Their ideas would reimagine the social safety net, create good jobs, expand education opportunities, build more sustainable communities, and strengthen our democracy. This year’s Challenge came at an especially important time to identify best practices, as Leaders grapple with the work of rebuilding and recovery in the wake of the pandemic, and have a unique opportunity to act with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. Winners in each of five categories will be announced next week during our 11th Annual Leaders Conference, on Thursday, November 18, and be featured in Governing Magazine. Join us on social media to celebrate these extraordinary ideas, and click here to read details on the finalists in all five categories!

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Revolving Loan Fund for Communities Threatened by Climate-Fueled Disasters

Problem

 As global temperatures rise, so do sea levels, which threaten to erode cliffs and flood homes along California’s coast. Local governments are facing very difficult political decisions.  They are looking for ways to address this crisis, balancing very limited budgets and few good options with the needs of residents.

Solution

Senate Bill 83 establishes a revolving fund within the State Coastal Conservancy to provide state-backed low-interest mortgages to local governments, who would use the money to buy properties at risk of sea-level rise in the next one or two decades. While allowing the owner to sell while a property still has value, the local entity can then rent out the property, repay the loan, and potentially earn additional revenue. Once the property is at risk of flooding from the rising sea, the property can be demolished.

 

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Resilient and Energy Efficient Municipal Infrastructure

Problem

The City of Jersey City has ambitious goals for reducing GHG emissions and the use of renewable energy but has a backlog of older, inefficient municipal buildings that need to be upgraded. We also have solar arrays and EV garbage trucks, but no way of tapping into the solar power or ensuring EV charging during a disruption of the energy grid. As a coastal city facing the threat of more frequent and more severe storm events, in addition to sea-level rise, it is important to ensure that our critical infrastructure is resilient to major storm events.

 

Solution

The solution is to leverage the NJ Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) in conjunction with other state and utility incentives to reduce operational costs, improve energy resiliency, and leverage energy savings to minimize cost on urgent capital infrastructure projects at over 20 municipal buildings. Additionally, adding battery storage to an existing generator and 1.23-megawatt solar panel array at the municipal services complex to create a microgrid that can function if the conventional grid loses power during a storm event, ensuring that the City’s new electric garbage trucks can be charged.

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Protecting Our Natural Resources through Agricultural and Environmental Alliances

Problem

Our world is experiencing the effects of climate change in a way that threatens every corner of the planet, from rising sea levels, drought, and heat to catastrophic weather events. Most farmers recognize and understand the value of our natural resources and have used the best technology available and affordable at the time; yet, many outdated practices resulted in over-fertilization and runoff into our water bodies, timber reduction without repopulation, and animal farming practices that produce waste and byproducts.  At the same time, we are experiencing loss of farm and timberland due to the continued expansion of urban and coastal development and natural disasters. A farmer once shared that “the last crop a farmer ever plants is housed.”

 

Solution

Our legislation seeks to bring environmentalists and agricultural producers together to quantify the ways that farmers and large landholders contribute to long-term sustainability and resiliency goals. State agencies and universities will determine a value for services such as water recharge, stormwater filtration, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and air quality.  Putting a value on the BENEFITS of these “services” will encourage and incentivize best practices and modern farming techniques that are integral to the protection of critical natural resources.

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New Marker Solar Project

Problem

The 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that greenhouse gas concentrations are driving profound change to the Earth System, including global warming, rising sea levels, and an increase in climate and weather extremes. As a result, the City of Cincinnati is actively working to dramatically reduce its carbon emissions and do so in a fiscally responsible way that provides economic benefit to the Greater Cincinnati region.

 

Solution

To drastically reduce the carbon footprint of cities, we must take action that spurs large-scale development of renewable energy utilizing our consumption and purchasing power to drive these arrays and lead to local community economic development opportunities. 
Cincinnati is developing a 100-megawatt solar array, the country’s largest municipal led solar array, that will provide solar power for city government operations and the residents of Cincinnati through the Community Choice Aggregation Program (CCA).
By intentionally directing how the City purchases energy, Cincinnati can lead large-scale solar development, create savings for the taxpayers, and ensure community benefits such as job creation, fair wages, and investments in schools and government within the solar array jurisdiction.