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Spotted at the Climate Summit: Republican Mayors

A smattering of Republican mayors attended the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last week: “We have to move away from fossil fuels,” said one.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during the opening reception for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on September 12.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during the opening reception for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on September 12.Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

After Greg Lemons was elected mayor of Abita Springs, Louisiana, in 2012, residents of the 2,500-person city started coming to him to complain about a local landowner’s plan to lease about 60,000 acres to Helis Oil & Gas for hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. Although area voters supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election, they were concerned that the company’s plans to drill through the aquifer the town relies on—the former spa town sells Abita-branded spring water and beer—could compromise its economic livelihood.

Lemons, a lifelong Republican who spent his career in the banking technology industry, initially felt the deal would be positive for the town, but he decided to investigate anyway. “I’m an engineer by trade, so I said, ‘I need to do a little research on this,’” he recalled. “I read everything I could online.” He started traveling to other fracking sites to learn more. The resulting three-year journey led him through western Pennsylvania, central Texas, and northern Louisiana.