Video: A green future for Salt Lake City?

By Tom Costello Correspondent
NBC News
updated 12/19/2006 7:41:12 PM ET 2006-12-20T00:41:12

Rocky Anderson believes if you're the mayor, you lead by example — from his snow-covered roof to the water heater in his basement and the car in his driveway.

He gave us a tour of his solar panels and showed us his car that "runs completely on natural gas."

Anderson is trying to push Salt Lake City toward a greener future.

"The message is: We're all in this together and we've all got to do our part," he says.

Already, Salt Lake has cut its greenhouse pollutants by 23,000 tons a year. Among its green initiatives:

  • Electric three-wheelers and hybrids;
  • High-efficiency light bulbs in the traffic signals and Christmas trees; and
  • Methane gas emissions from the waste water treatment plant turned into power.

Salt Lake is one of 346 cities and 12 states that have decided it can no longer wait for the federal government to take the lead on global warming.

Washington has never passed a law to address greenhouse gas emissions or global warming. Now, with the Democrats set to take over, Congress may be about to turn a bit greener itself.

"Anyone who says global warming is a hoax is way out of the mainstream of scientific thought," says Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Sen. Boxer is about to take over as head of the powerful environmental and public works committee. She wants new laws to cap greenhouse gas emissions, higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and an end to tax breaks for oil companies, with the proceeds going toward alternative fuels.

Meanwhile, much of corporate Americahas decided it can't afford to wait, either.

General Motors, Wal-Mart, Exelon Power and FedEx are among some of the biggest companies that are already cutting their own greenhouse emissions.

"They need to act now, because legislation is going to hit them here in the U.S. sooner or later," says Thomas Lyon with the University of Michigan School of Business.

And his roof in Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson says, is proof that acting locally can have a global impact.

"We could solve our problems in this country if we took these kinds of steps," he says.

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