Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti calls on Congress to pass Biden infrastructure and climate plan at virtual roundtable
Mayors highlighted local importance of passing climate investments for local communities
Contact: Anthony Campisi
Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti joined mayors from four other states at a virtual town hall to call on Congress to pass President Biden’s infrastructure and climate plan, highlighting the family-sustaining union jobs that would be created with a transformational investment in clean energy.
Cognetti hailed the Senate’s recent passage of a bipartisan infrastructure deal to invest in crumbling bridges and expand public transit. But she said that this first step must be joined to a second, $3.5 trillion jobs and climate package currently under consideration in Congress in order to transform the Northeast Pennsylvania economy and bring it into the 21st century.
“Scranton earned the nickname ‘Electric City’ when we became the first city to introduce the electric streetcar in 1886,” Cognetti said. “Now, Scranton can become a leader in building transportation infrastructure again — but only if the federal government is willing to make the investments needed to expand clean electric vehicles and invest heavily in mass transit again.”
“While the bipartisan infrastructure deal that passed the Senate complements work we’ve already been doing in Scranton around charging stations for electric cars and looking at needed electricity grid improvements,” she added, “we need the second federal package to truly boost job creation by funding the construction of electric school buses and trucks to improve air quality and transform our transportation sector.”
Cognetti was joined by mayors from three other states to highlight the importance of swift action from Washington: Mayor Gavin Buckley of Annapolis, Maryland; Mayor Ravi Bhalla of Hoboken, New Jersey; and Mayor Kathy Sheehan of Albany, New York.
The mayors highlighted the union jobs that would be created if Congress moves forward with the president’s plan to tackle climate change, pointing to investments in renewable energy sources and weatherization that would also help lower energy costs for consumers and businesses alike.
And they pointed to proposals that would replace every lead pipe in the nation, finally eliminating a threat to our nation’s children, as well as investments in remediating contaminated industrial sites as a means of revitalizing blighted communities.
“Annapolis is particularly vulnerable to climate change, having experienced the largest increase of any U.S. city in nuisance flooding days over the last 50 years,” said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley. “We are committed to strategically tackling climate change, but need a similar commitment from Congress. Simply stated, we need federal investments that match the scale of the problems we face. We need to pass the full Build Back Better agenda.”
“Every elected official, from the federal level to the local level, has a role in combatting climate change. We have a massive opportunity with President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, and the City of Albany is ready to do our part to rebuild our infrastructure, build a clean energy grid, and create good-paying jobs for our community. Albany is an economic and cultural center for New York, and we have a responsibility to protect our city for future generations. Thank you to the New York League of Conservation Voters for hosting this important discussion,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.
"Hoboken is on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Superstorm Sandy flooded over 80% of our city and left residents without water and power for days, and chronic flood events have become more frequent. We are proud to be part of the solution by investing in green infrastructure, solar energy, and electric vehicles, but there is more work to be done," said Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, "We've pledged to have our City operations be carbon neutral by 2035, and when they're completed, our resiliency parks will hold over a million gallons of stormwater runoff. But this moment also demands bold action at the Federal level. Congress must pass President Biden's Full Build Back Better Agenda now to give Hoboken and cities like us the tools we need."
While the mayors hailed the bipartisan compromise that led to the infrastructure deal, they called on Democrats in Congress to press forward with a standalone climate and energy package — pointing to overwhelming public support for investments in clean energy and other aspects of the president’s agenda.
A recent Data for Progress poll found that 65 percent of voters support these investments.
Cognetti joined with her colleagues in calling on Congress to work with President Biden to ensure swift passage of legislation that enjoys such significant support.
“The fact is that Scranton residents are counting on Congress to pass President Biden’s agenda to create jobs while tackling the existential threat posed by a changing climate. We need Congress to meet this historic moment and act without delay.”
The event was hosted by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, the New York League of Conservation Voters, and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. As part of their ongoing nationwide campaign, League of Conservation Voters state affiliates across the country are hosting regional discussions this week with mayors from New England, the Midwest, and the Mountain West. In total, 20 U.S. mayors will join the Conservation Voter Movement for Climate Action Now events this week. These discussions are part of LCV and Climate Power’s Climate Action Now: Great American Build August tour with over 30 events across the country building support for federal climate action.
“Annapolis and Mayor Buckley are national leaders in creatively and purposefully addressing the impacts of climate change,” said Kai Mateo, Maryland LCV’s Federal Climate Campaign Manager. “To be successful, America’s mayors, and all those on the frontlines of handling the climate crisis, need, and deserve a plan as ambitious as Build Back Better.”
“If we hope to combat climate change, we need strong leadership at the local level. We’re thrilled to be able to bring together four mayors who are leading on this front to discuss Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda. With bold federal climate action, we can make important local investments and create good-paying union jobs, build resilient infrastructure, and create a just and equitable clean energy grid. We thank Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Mayor Gavin Buckley, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, and Mayor Paige Cognetti for leading on climate and participating in our discussion,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.
"Cities like Hoboken are on the front lines of climate change," said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. "They're doing the work to expand access to renewable energy, reduce flooding from stormwater, and harden their communities against the impacts of rising sea levels and increasingly severe storms. But elected officials like Mayor Bhalla deserve a partner in Washington who will provide them with the resources they need to chart a sustainable, clean energy future for their communities. It's time for Congress to step up and pass President Biden's transformational infrastructure and climate plan to put people to work expanding access to renewable energy and in addressing increasing flooding that threatens our most vulnerable residents."
"Cities like Scranton are on the front lines addressing our climate crisis," said Molly Parzen, Interim Executive Director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. "But they need support from the federal government if they are going to curb emissions and protect their residents from the impacts of increasingly severe storms and worsening flooding. Congress must act now to pass President Biden's transformational climate and infrastructure agenda, which enjoys strong bipartisan support. The people of Scranton, and of Pennsylvania, need to know that their elected representatives in Congress are fighting for them."