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Mayor announces partnership in effort for clean energy

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In the shadow of President Donald Trump’s consideration of taking the United States out of the Paris climate pact, local leaders gathered in Columbia with hopes of bringing clean energy to all citizens of South Carolina.

Columbia Mayor State Benjamin joined a group from the Sierra Club to announce his involvement with a number of other mayors across the country to endorse the goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy.

“Against the backdrop of some bad decisions by leaders at the federal level, this underscores the importance of true leadership at every level of government,” Benjamin said. “My goal is to keep pushing, joining with mayors of Miami Beach, San Diego and Salt Lake City to support a resolution on clean energy that will be presented at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.”

National Sierra Club President Lauren Blackford was on hand to thank the mayor for joining the initiative to endorse clean energy, and setting an example of bold leadership.

“The president’s decision is devastating to the United States’ leadership in the world, and a huge blow to U.S. business interests, but what really matters is happening right here in Columbia,” Blackford said. “The people of this city know what’s at stake. Poor decisions will not stop the momentum for a clean energy economy that protects the health of families and creates jobs in the growing clean energy industry.”

Benjamin was joined by Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, who was instrumental in helping pass a bill that loosens restrictions on solar energy in South Carolina. Smith said the goal is ultimately to offer all South Carolina citizens access to solar energy.

“We are working to see the expansion of solar farms, and looking to go where all other states around us have already gone,” Smith said. “This is a $1.9 billion investment. North Carolina produces over 1,400 megawatts of solar power while South Carolina generates only four. I think we can do much better.”

Benjamin urged those gathered to remain vigilant and continue to push forward in their cause.

“Ninety percent of the nation’s gross domestic product is produced in cities and metropolitan economies; they are the incubators of innovation, creating jobs,” Benjamin said. “People are coming back to cities and metro economies, and the ability to reduce our carbon footprint will have an impact on the future of our city.”

Reach Travis Boland at 803-726-7543.

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