BERKELEY, CA — Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin was among 198 mayors who sent a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to take action to invest in sustainability-oriented programs, support green transportation, increase tree canopies and more.
Arreguin has been an active an vocal sustainability advocate, most recently supporting the city's Electric Mobility Roadmap, which passed unanimously at a City Council meeting last week. The roadmap will build a fossil fuel-free transportation system by increasing how often people walk, bike or use public transit in Berkeley.
Last Thursday the letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Shuck Schumer.
Mayors urged Congress to not only take swift, decisive action to help those affected by COVID-19, but to help those most affected by climate change. Just as communities of color have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, they have long been disproportionately subject to air pollution and other environmental hazards.
"We began the year committed to protecting human civilization and beating the ten-year clock counting down to massive, irreparable climate disruption. Three months in, an unimaginable public health emergency of COVID-19 has been accompanied by a profound economic crisis and a national reckoning with racial inequity faced by communities of color," they wrote. "These communities have long suffered disproportionately from air pollution and other toxic exposure and are now getting hit hardest by the health and economic impacts of this pandemic."
Mayors called on Congress to increase funding for several green grant programs and others that lead to reduced energy costs and sustainability, invest in recycling infrastructure and expand workforce training programs around clean technology.
They also called on Congress to prioritize clean transportation projects, ramp up manufacturing of electric cars, and increase green space and tree canopy, among other requests.
"As mayors and local leaders, we stand on the front lines of this moment — and we are determined to meet it with strength, resilience, resolve, and bold action to protect our planet and build a more just future for all Americans."