Monday, August 11, 2008

Muskogee City Council Rejects US Mayor's Global Warming Agreement

John Tyler Hammons, Muskogee's young mayor, brought to the City Council tonight the "U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement" for consideration. This was the only new business on the agenda.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors first invited Mayor Hammons to sign the Agreement three weeks ago. Over 850 mayors nationwide have signed since 2005. Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor became the 500th signer in May of 2007.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Center states that:
Under the Agreement, participating cities commit to take the following three actions:

- Strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities, through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns;
- Urge their state governments, and the federal government, to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol -- 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and
- Urge the U.S. Congress to pass the bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation, which would establish a national emission trading system
(You can read the Agreement in full here.)

After the mayor opened up discussion on the issue, City Councilman James Gulley was the first to speak. He noted that the city already is doing several of the points mentioned in the Agreement, such as emphasizing public transit and energy efficiency. Gulley also questioned whether Muskogee needed to do this, and said "I'd like to pass on this, frankly."

Councilman Bob Luttrull was next, pointing out the mention of carbon credits. He wondered if people would have to buy them if the mayor signed on, causing Mayor Hammons to interject that there is no obligation if the document is signed. The mayor said that it is "a show of support" for energy efficiency and environmental issues.

Shawn Raper, Ward II Councilman, mentioned that the U.S. Senate rejected the Kyoto Protocol , which figures highly in the Agreement, by a vote of 95-0. The topic of global warming, said Raper, is highly controversial. He considered this to be "way out of bounds" for the city of Muskogee to address. He advocated that the Council and the Mayor pass on the document, to focus on the matters involving Muskogee, not the world.

Jim Ritchey pointed out that over 31,000 American scientists, 9,000 of which hold PhDs, had signed a petition rejecting man-made global warming. Over 500 of the scientists were from Oklahoma, Ritchey noted. "Let's focus on capitol improvements, wastewater, streets... and not the world's problems." he said.

Mayor Hammons said that he appreciated the dialogue; and noting the Council's opposition, opted not to sign the Agreement.


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