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Mayor Krewson signs pledge for a renewable-energy-powered St. Louis

This array of solar panels on top of a building helps power the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
File photo | Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association
This array of solar panels on top of a building helps power the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

Mayor Lyda Krewson signed the Sierra Club’s “Mayors For 100 Percent Clean Energy” pledge on Tuesday, signaling her commitment to helping the city some day becoming completely reliant on renewable energy.
In signing the pledge, Krewson joins the mayors of more than 200 cities — including Cincinnati, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City — who have expressed their support of renewable energy as the Trump administration actively rolls back regulations such as emissions limits for power plants.

“We’ve got to look out for generations to come,” Krewson said. “I wish we all have understood that 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. But we’re here today, so we do what we can today.”

The Sierra Club hopes action at the local level will result in grassroots changes that will slow the effects of climate change.

“In the United States, action by local government is already a significant driver of renewable-energy growth, because cities know firsthand that steps to reduce carbon emissions clean the air, strengthen the economy and improve lives,” the pledge reads.

Currently only 6 percent of the city’s power comes from solar or wind.

Several other area mayors havesigned the pledge, including the mayors of Granite City, Chesterfield, Florissant and St. Peters.

The pledge doesn’t contain any concrete policy recommendations or ask for specifics that would help the cities reach the 100 percent goal. It only asks for their support of renewable-power sources such as wind and solar.

The pledge is “aspirational,” Krewson said. Local governments in dense cities will be forced to step up their efforts and lead by example if national leaders don’t act fast enough, she said.

“Most of the major changes do come from cities getting behind things," Krewson said. "You can look back in history and see the real changes happen through people,” Krewson said.

When asked what the city would do to help reach the goal, the mayor said she would like to see the region’s main energy supplier diversify its power sources. Right now, the energy company creates most of its energy from coal.

“That would make it easier, of course, if we were able to buy clean energy from our utility,” Krewson said.

Missouri’s renewable-energy standard requires state utilities to generate at least 15 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2021.

As national leaders have rolled back climate regulations in the last two years, local leaders such as mayors and governorshave attempted to pick up where the Trump administration has backed off.

After the United States backed out of the international Paris climate agreement in 2017, a coalition of mayors created their own accord to uphold the resolution’s environmental standards. Several of those leaders were present as a counterpoint to the Trump administration’s pro-fossil-fuel position at the United Nations climate summit in Poland earlier this year.

The Sierra Club pledge is similar to a resolution passed by the St. Louis Board of Alderman last year that voiced a commitment to use all renewable energy by 2035.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @Petit_Smudge

Sarah Fentem is the health reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.