San Francisco city officials joined with Bay Area residents and activists Wednesday to protest the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, a federal policy intended to push the nation toward lower emission levels and cleaner air.
The protests, which included a “polar bear funeral” as well as speeches from local officials, took place outside a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “listening session” at San Francisco’s Public Library on the Clean Power Plan.
The hearing before an EPA panel was the fifth of six planned around the country, and the only one on the West Coast. The panel will be making its last stop in Gillette, Wyoming at the end of March, according to EPA officials.
The Clean Power Plan, signed in 2015 under the Obama Administration, set out state-by-state goals to lower emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, according to the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency.
However, Trump-appointed EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, proposed to repeal the eco-friendly plan last October, in an official notice.
In an emailed statement, an EPA spokesman said, “EPA has proposed to repeal the so-called Clean Power Plan because it was premised on a novel and expansive view of the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.
“The Clean Power Plan would also have had serious economic impacts on our country while doing little to help the environment. EPA has offered an extended comment period and held multiple listening sessions to hear from voices across the country and we look forward to the public’s input.”
EPA officials have said repealing the Clean Power Plan could save up to $33 billion dollars in avoided compliance costs by 2030.
President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that would put the Clean Power Plan under EPA review.
San Francisco has been implementing sustainability plans since 1996 and in May 2016, under Mayor Ed Lee, launched CleanPowerSF, which ensures 40 percent of the energy provided to The City’s homes and businesses is from renewable sources. The program is part of a city goal to reach 100 percent renewable energy throughout San Francisco by 2030, surpassing Obama’s national plan.
City officials said repealing the plan could delay the transition to clean energy on a national scale.
“We in San Francisco will fight for clean energy programs that create jobs,” Mayor Mark Farrell told supporters at the rally. “We will fight to be sure dirty fossil fuels stay in the ground. We will fight to protect our families, and we will fight to protect our children.”
Wednesday’s protests in San Francisco took place alongside 239 others in cities across the country.
“Our country is going in the wrong direction,” Maureen Blanc, a 40-year San Francisco resident who spoke at the hearing, said. “San Francisco has some of the strongest environmental leaders in the state. Emissions go across all borders and all states and all cities.”
“When Obama put it into effect, it was well vetted and well researched and we’re in favor of keeping it,” Richard Nieset, a San Jose resident, said of the plan. “I think that it’s one of the the great benefits of living in the Bay Area is that we actually really do care about these issues and we go out and show a force and do something about it.”
“Federal or state, no matter which level we look at it, it’s devastating,” Shanna Serrano, Oakland resident, said. “We can’t separate people from the environment. We are the environment.”
Bay City News reporter Janis Mara contributed to this story.