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ICLEI USA Pays Tribute to a Pioneer in Climate Science

by Martin Chavez Jul 19, 2010

Stephen Schneider

Stephen H. Schneider. Photo credit: Joi on Flickr

Today is a sad day for the climate change community as we mourn the passing of one of the brightest minds that has engaged in the study of climate change

Dr. Stephen Schneider, who was a Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change at Stanford University, was a committed voice, articulating the role humans play in climate change and what we can do to mitigate it.  Even when confronted with a barrage of criticism, he wasn't afraid to use the media to engage and defend his groundbreaking research. That energy was unmistakable and came through in every opportunity he had to educate the public about the dangers of climate change. He was able to brilliantly employ his passion for issues of climate change to win over skeptics.

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ICLEI USA to FHFA Director: Restore PACE or Resign

by Don Knapp Jul 15, 2010

Edward Demarco FHFA

Edward DeMarco, Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director
Photo credit: FHFA website

ICLEI USA continues to exert pressure on federal decision-makers to reverse their policy and save local governments' property-assessed clean energy (PACE) programs. Today, we joined members of Congress in calling for Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco to step down, unless he works with local governments to restore critical funding to PACE programs in 22 states including California.

Martin Chavez, ICLEI USA Executive Director, released the following statement:

Acting Director DeMarco should take a deep breath, apologize to the American people for distorting the record on PACE, and reverse course. If he's not willing to restore PACE funding as requested by Congress, he should follow their suggestion and resign.

In recent public comments, Acting Director DeMarco has falsely described Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs as “loans” and “credit risks,” which is both misleading and inaccurate.  Mr. DeMarco’s comments follow recent actions by the FHFA at the direction of loan giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that severely restrict a local government’s ability to implement PACE-enabling programs.  In responding to a recent lawsuit filed by California Attorney General, Jerry Brown, on behalf of local governments, Mr. DeMarco said his agency will fight Brown's lawsuit in order to protect ‘taxpayers, lenders and both mortgage programs [Fannie and Freddie]."

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Webinar: Emerging Best Practices in Energy and Greenhouse Gas Management

by Don Knapp Jul 14, 2010

Hara partner logo large
 

ICLEI USA logo

Join ICLEI and Hara for a webinar discussion on how leading local governments are more accurately tracking and optimizing energy use and GHG emissions—to save money and implement targeted strategies

Wednesday, July 21
1 to 2 p.m. Eastern

Register Now green large icon


Today, countless local governments already conduct periodic greenhouse gas emissions inventories as they work through ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Climate Mitigation process. But forward-thinkers like City of Palo Alto, CA, are becoming more sophisticated in how they measure, manage and optimize their emissions and energy use.

By establishing an auditable environmental and energy system of record, they can better identify, prioritize, and track reduction strategies and projects. The bottom line? Bigger money savings, deeper emissions reductions, and more focused and effective energy strategies.

In this free webinar, featuring the City of Palo Alto and experts from environmental and energy solutions leader Hara, we will discuss the following:

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PACE Update: California Sues Feds

by Don Knapp Jul 14, 2010

Jerry Brown [wikimedia commons photo credit: Scott Clarkson]

California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced a lawsuit Wednesday
aimed at Fannie May, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Photo credit: Scott Clarkson via Wikimedia Commons

Pressure is mounting on the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to reverse its decision to block lending to homeowners participating in local governments' property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing programs. On Wednesday, California Attorney General Jerry Brown sued the federal government in an attempt to reverse this decision, which effectively shuts down existing and emerging PACE programs nationwide.

Martin ChavezICLEI USA applauds and supports Attorney General Brown's action, and in the Associated Press story reporting the news, ICLEI USA Executive Director Martin Chavez reiterated our stance:

The government is trying to nip a national development that has seen a recent surge spurred by the distribution of federal stimulus money, said Martin Chavez, executive director of Local Governments for Sustainability USA Inc. in Washington, D.C.

Twenty-three states have passed laws permitting programs like the one in California, and legislation is pending in most other states, Chavez said. He promoted similar programs during his three terms as mayor of Albuquerque, N.M.

"They're really hot and they're a great tool for homeowners to retrofit homes," Chavez said.

The State of California joins PACE leader Babylon, NY, which earlier this week announced its own lawsuit. Attorney General Brown also sent a letter to President Obama, urging him "to do everything in your power to reverse [Fannie May and Freddie Mac's] illegal and short-sighted actions."

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who earlier this year launched the nation's largest PACE program (GreenFinanceSF), also issued a strong statement supporting California's lawsuit, calling on Fannie May and Freddie Mac "to remove their stranglehold on GreenFinanceSF and similar programs and recognize them for what they are: a key tool for growing California’s new green economy and helping Californians reduce monthly utility bills." Read Mayor Newsom's full statement below:

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Take Action Now With ICLEI's "Save PACE" Action Kit

by Don Knapp Jul 14, 2010

Capital in Washington, D.C.

Guest Blogger: Martin Chavez, ICLEI USA Executive Director and former Mayor of Albuquerque, NM

Dear Elected Officials, Local Government Staff, and ICLEI Partners:

ICLEI USA is leading national efforts to save local government PACE programs from shortsighted federal decision-makers at the Federal Housing Finance Agency. We're calling on all local governments to take action now by using the sample letters and sample resolution in our kit.

Download Now green large icon


Martin ChavezAs a followup to my earlier letter, please review the steps below. There is very little time left on the congressional calendar to save PACE this legislative season, and therefore swift action from the local level is key. Your local government can make a real difference by speaking out. Use ICLEI USA’s Action Kit, which contains sample letters and a sample resolution, to take effective action today!

What You Can Do to Save PACE (Using Our Action Kit)

   1. Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives to support PACE
      See the sample letter and key messages in the Action Kit

   2. Write a letter to the editor in your local newspaper
      See the sample letter in the Action Kit

   3. Pass a resolution to support PACE
      See the sample resolution in the Action Kit

   4. Join ICLEI's PACE Update webinar on July 27 at 2-3:30 p.m. Eastern to learn the latest on this developing situation and our next steps.


Local Leaders Stand United

  • Valerie Brown, Sonoma County Chairwoman, ICLEI USA Board Member, and President of NACo: “It is truly shortsighted of one federal agency to not understand the benefits of PACE programs, especially of the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP). (click link to keep reading)

 

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Sustainability Progress Across the Southwest and South Central U.S.

by Samantha Hughes, ICLEI South Central intern Jul 11, 2010

South Central regional map

Some of the most exciting and forward-thinking climate and sustainability initiatives are being implemented by local governments in the Southwestern and South Central United States. We've gotten on the phone with staff from many of our ICLEI local government members in this region -- Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas -- and have a compiled the progress report below. Read on to learn about Austin, TX's new renewable energy goal to Fort Collins, CO's solar belly trash compactors, and more.

If your local government has a success story to share, don't hesitate to contact the South Central Regional Office or e-mail us your press releases so we can repost on the ICLEI USA website.

  • Albuquerque, NM: Nick Kuhn, City Forester for Albuquerque, NM, is working with NM State Forestry on a five-city ecological tree assessment paid for with U.S. Forest Service funds to provide a city-specific and Southwest regional model for cities to determine the ecological value of their urban forest. The cities are Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Farmington (all in NM), El Paso, TX, and Glendale, AZ.

  • Arlington, TX: The City of Arlington, TX, launched its Arlington Green Team program on Tuesday, June 22. The program focuses on commercial sustainability and challenges Arlington businesses to go green by making sustainability decisions from a set menu of choices. Those that sign up are recognized for their level of commitment and achievement. For more information visit www.ArlingtonGreenTeam.com.

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Town of Babylon Comes Out Swinging Against Fannie May/Freddie Mac

by Don Knapp Jul 11, 2010

Town of Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone

Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone is helping to lead the fight by
local government to reverse FHFA's decision on PACE programs.

A pioneer of property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing isn’t afraid to fight back against lending giants Fannie May and Freddie Mac, or the federal agency that oversees them. The Town of Babylon, NY, announced plans today to file suit against the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) in U.S. District Federal Court, to prevent FHFA from effectively shutting down local governments’ PACE programs across the country, including Babylon’s Long Island Green Homes Program, one of the first in the nation.

At issue is Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s refusal to underwrite home loans that participate in PACE programs designed to help homeowners overcome the up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades or renewable installations. The decision spells disaster for the handful of PACE programs already established, and the many more under development, funded ironically by federal stimulus dollars.

The ripple effect of killing PACE is to also kill thousands of jobs, hamper local climate action, and stifle the bottom-up emergence of a clean-energy economy. Town of Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone has let it be known, however, that he doesn’t plan on shutting down his successful program, or backing down from FHFA. The Town released two pages of talking points (reprinted below, courtesy of Town of Babylon) that mount a counterattack on FHFA’s position and conduct on the PACE issue.

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Chicago Wins Big with Green Office Challenge

by Rena Ragimova Jul 08, 2010

Downtown Chicago, IL

A little friendly competition never hurt anybody. In fact, in the City of Chicago, a competition among the offices of the Central Business District has resulted in a whole lot of environmentally friendly changes in the way Chicago does business. Dubbed the Chicago Green Office Challenge, it was a race to see which offices and buildings could green their operations the most. More than 100 tenants and 39 property managers participated and made efforts to reduce waste, decrease water and energy use, and engage their colleagues. The Challenge was co-developed by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA and the City of Chicago.  

Chicago Mayor Daley Green office challengeMayor Richard Daley (at left) recognized these leaders for their outstanding achievements in an awards ceremony. After one year, the big-time results from Green Office Challenge participants prove that this innovative program is a smash success—and worthy of replication in other cities and counties. Here’s what you get when you mix competition, recognition and environmental friendliness:

  • a reduction of more than 72 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – equivalent to the energy used by 4,500 homes or using 125,000 barrels of oil
  • keeping more than 54,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – equal to removing more than 10,000 cars off Chicago streets
  • a reduction of more than 5 percent in water usage and a diversion of more than 1,200 tons of materials from landfills
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Take Action to Help Save PACE Energy Financing Programs

by Martin Chavez, Executive Director Jul 07, 2010

House With Roof Solar Panels

Guest Blogger: Martin Chavez, ICLEI USA Executive Director and former mayor of Albuquerque:

As a national organization with more than 600 local governments nationwide, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability rarely asks its members to support issues that go beyond our core mission of moving through the carbon emissions milestones and striving toward overall sustainability. However, the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA), created to regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, has recently taken an action on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) initiatives that effectively kills them. That's why I'm asking you to take action to help prevent this.

 

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Local Action Roundup

by Rena Ragimova Jun 30, 2010

 

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