Columbia, S.C. – Less than three months before South Carolina's "first in the South" presidential primary, a bipartisan group of 108 South Carolina state mayors, led by Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols, Union Mayor Bruce Morgan, and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, today released an open letter to the 2008 presidential candidates urging them to make climate change solutions a priority in their campaigns. To their knowledge, this letter is the largest effort by mayors in any of the early voting states to send a message to the candidates on any issue.
"The message to each of the presidential candidates couldn't be clearer: South Carolina voters are looking to you to help solve climate change and usher in a clean energy future," Union Mayor Bruce Morgan said. "With our state's beautiful coastline and booming tourism industry at stake, the growing threat of climate change has gotten the attention of South Carolinians of all parties. We want all of the presidential candidates to tell us the next time they visit our state: What is your plan to address these challenges?"
The mayors' letter recognizes the importance of energy independence and climate change to South Carolina residents, and calls on all 2008 presidential candidates, regardless of party, to make these issues a priority in their conversations with Palmetto State voters. Mayors who signed the letter preside over large cities and small towns, representing more than one million South Carolina residents. To underscore support for the mayors' efforts on climate change, Carolina Climate Network and Upstate Forever will place ads in three major South Carolina daily newspapers.
"In Rock Hill, our citizens have recognized that just as we are part of the problem, we can be part of the solution," said Mayor Doug Echols. "Thus, we are taking steps small and large to reduce our emissions, looking at transportation, renewable energy, alternative fuels, recycling, and land use policies to promote efficiency, save taxpayer dollars, and improve our environment. We need to hear what the presidential candidates plan to do as well."
"This is the issue of our time," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said. "The ability of future generations to live a good life depends on what we do now, and what the next President of the United States does to address climate change."
South Carolina offers an ideal forum for addressing climate change issues. With its growing tourism industry and nearly 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline, the state is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. While the threat of climate change is real, so are the economic opportunities of moving to a clean energy future. By investing in conservation and efficiency, the state can promote a cleaner environment while creating jobs and saving taxpayer dollars. Several cities in the state have already begun to lead the way. For example, in 2006 alone Charleston lowered greenhouse gas emission levels by 19,000 tons, saving the city over $500,000 a year.