Why did 14 Mississippi River Mayors Sign a Proclamation Pledging to Reduce Climate Risks

When they signed the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative’s Path to Positive Proclamation in Dubuque, IA, on September 18, 14 U.S. mayors made a historic commitment to take action to reduce climate risks and protect the future of their communities.

Interestingly, these leaders were not the “usual suspect” mayors from big, coastal cities who have generated so much well-deserved global attention as local climate leaders. The MRCTI mayors are Midwestern mayors — from St. Louis, MO, to St. Paul, MN, and from Dubuque, IA to Vidalia, LA – and are not as well known yet for their climate leadership. The mayors of New York City, Washington, Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles – and many more — have made similar commitments to climate action, and have been pushing local solutions with gusto.

On September 18, this first group of 14 mayors signed the Path to Positive Proclamation to pledge their leadership, prepare for climate change, and promote solutions that advance prosperity for their cities, towns, and citizens.

In signing this Proclamation, and in being the first of MRCTI’s 68 member mayors to sign on, these Mayors wanted to send a clear message that climate impacts are not only coastal in nature  and that small towns in all regions of the country need to elevate their leadership on climate solutions.

“I signed the Proclamation today to show I am committed to building a better future for the citizens of my community, and ensure the Mississippi River Basin continues to be a stable resource for the more than $400 billion in GDP it drives for our country. The River is a keystone that supports our nation’s infrastructure. With the increases in extreme heat, flooding, and catastrophic storms we have witnessed, it’s clear that preparing for a different future is imminent,” said Hyram Copeland, Mayor of Vidalia, LA, and Co-Chair of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative.

MRCTI is an effort to bring national attention back to the Mississippi River—America’s most critical natural asset—and cultivate a new level of regional cooperation to make it more sustainable. As the ecological linchpin to the 37-state Mississippi River Basin, the River is responsible for creating $200 billion worth of U.S. GDP; providing drinking water for more than 20 million people; transporting 40 percent of the nation’s agricultural output; delivering nearly 400 tons of coal and petroleum products; and, directly supporting one million jobs and millions more indirectly

The Path to Positive Proclamation includes mayoral commitments to:

  • Create a positive energy future: Solutions should promote abundant, clean energy, avoid costly carbon pollution from dirty fuels, provide choice in affordable energy, and provide Americans greater economic freedom by making our homes, buildings, and transportation more energy efficient;
  • Improve people’s health and prepare for harmful impacts: Solutions must clear the air, improve land and water quality, provide healthy food choices to nurture people’s bodies and spirits, combat the devastating health impacts of climate change, reduce injury and illness, and create a better quality of life through access to clean drinking water sources and a healthy environment;
  • Build shared, sustainable prosperity: Solutions should create good, clean American jobs and a sustainable economy that supports livelihoods today and for generations to come;
  • Engage all Americans: Solutions must provide all of us a say in decisions that affect our lives. Special effort should be made to include youth and vulnerable communities in crafting solutions.

The complete proclamation can be found online.

The Proclamation was released through the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI), a mayoral-led effort comprised of 68 River Mayors committed to creating a coordinated voice for the Mississippi River, in partnership with Path to Positive Communities, a national council of diverse community leaders and organizations united to advance climate solutions.

“Signing the Path to Positive Proclamation is a concrete action mayors in the Mississippi River Basin are taking as a way to cultivate a new level of cooperation to protect the 20 million people of this region from climate impacts to come,” said Colin Wellenkamp, Executive Director of MRCTI, following a three-day meeting that brought together more than two dozen mayors in Dubuque last week.

Now, more than ever, mayors and elected officials are poised to take an important step to pledge their commitment to creating solutions to ensure a stable and prosperous future for communities across our country. Community leaders and staff are encouraged to sign the proclamation, and join the nationwide Path to Positive Communities coalition at www.pathtopositive.org/join.

MRCTI Mayors who signed The Path to Positive Proclamation as of 9/18/15:

Rita Albrecht of Bemidji, MN

Paxton Branch of Tallulah, LA

Roy Buol of Dubuque, IA

Chris Coleman of St. Paul, MN

Belinda Constant of Gretna, LA

Hyram Copeland of Vidalia, LA

Tim Kabat of La Crosse, WI

Dave Kleis of St. Cloud, MN

Dave Lattus of Hickman, KY

Russell Loven of Guttenberg, IA

Bill Luckett of Clarksdale, MS

Sonya Paddock of Riverdale, IA

Francis Slay of St. Louis, MO

Mark Vulich of Clinton, IA

Path to Positive Communities is a national council of diverse community leaders and organizations united to advance climate solutions. The Path to Positive Communities program empowers local and regional leaders to maximize the opportunities climate solutions bring to American people and their communities, and inspire their citizens and other leaders to support solutions at local, regional, and national levels. Leaders and organizations from American cities, counties, and states are invited to join and leverage the Path to Positive Communities program. 

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