NEW BEDFORD — The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Energy Policy Committee finished off a two-day summit on smart cities and energy technologies with a press conference on Friday morning.

On the top floor of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the group of about 20 mayors from across the country shared presentations and case studies on varying aspects of renewable energy use in cities, as well as creating a new energy economy. Throughout these meetings the elected officials were given the chance to take ideas from other cities to apply to their own.

The group of mayors focused their discussions on the long-term aspects of renewable energy, energy preparedness, business partnerships for building a new energy economy, and how to get the voices of mayors heard at the federal level.

Mayor of Gresham, Oregon Shane Bemis says that as a republican mayor leading a republican majority city, he’s learned to be effective in the clean-energy discussion by focusing on the money behind the industry.

"As a republican mayor I found that while I believe in the science of climate change, it’s easier for me to instead of talk on the moral ground, it’s easier to talk on the return of investment ground," said Bemis.

The mayor of Gresham argues that contributing to the development of alternate and cleaner energy doesn’t require a party registration. He says if some mayors can’t contribute to the science and morality conversation, they can push green energy technologies while improving their city’s economy at the same time.

“We can still meet the Paris Climate Accord by doing things like investing in the green energy technologies,” Bemis said. “We don’t talk about climate change we talk about return of investment.”

The mayors also expressed their desire to have a ‘seat at the table’ in national climate discussions. They argue that when politicians on the federal level pass a national law, it doesn’t always work at the local level.

"You know you have governors, and members of the legislature, or members of Congress coming up with policy initiatives that just aren't workable at the local level and it defeats the whole purpose of what they're trying to do,” Piscataway, New Jersey Mayor Brian Wahler said. “So that's why mayors are looking for a seat at the table."

Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Tom Cochran says that the Energy Policy Committee will travel to New York City next week to participate in functions for Climate Week. Cochran was vocal in his description of U.S. mayors leading the charge for clean and renewable energy, and says that they are “doing things to save the planet”.

"Presidents, dictators, queens and kings, and tribal leaders get together and fight and talk. But the mayors of the world walk, and we are doing things to save our planet,” Cochran said.

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