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Minneapolis mayor: Cities need feds' help on climate change

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A boat ramp in north Minneapolis was closed due to flooding.
A boat ramp in north Minneapolis sits closed due to flooding earlier this month.
Gabriel Kwan | MPR News file

If you want to use less oil and reduce your carbon footprint, live in or near a city, said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

But cities also face significant challenges from a warmer, wetter climate. This winter's heavy snowfall — and subsequent flooding across the Midwest — show how. 

"Cities are the ones that are going to be feeling the brunt of the burden associated with climate change and so cities need the resources to be able to attack that head on," Frey said.

Frey and the mayors of Davenport, Iowa, and Baton Rouge, La., recently penned an op-ed in USA Today where they make a case for greater federal investment in climate-proofing infrastructure in the Midwest and along the Mississippi River:

[It] will take the will of a nation to meet the problems at the scale we face today — the wildfires of the West and floods of the central United States are prime examples that this is a national challenge.

The current administration proposed a budget that would set us back. It contains deep cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers, whose public servants maintain much of the levee system that we still rely on. The budget also threatens to deplete funding for critical domestic programs that cities along the Mississippi need. 

Federal officials must supply money to "help further the interests of cities," Frey told Climate Cast, including investments in light rail and rapid bus transit, plus making sure sewer systems can handle increased flooding. 

He said nearly everyone at Minneapolis City Hall agrees with the consensus that climate change is here and impacting the planet. And he said cities are energized to take on climate change.

"It's not like just the first people to die from climate change have already been born," Frey said. "The first people to die of climate change are already dead."

Hear an interview with Frey on the audio player above.