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Without environmental regulations, many companies would gladly poison you to earn bigger profits.
Well, have you ever considered what our world would look like without regulations?
In the early 20th century, almost all paint contained lead. Despite many reports documenting the dangers of lead exposure, especially on children, the lead industry did nothing about it. Indeed, it responded by establishing an organization that countered bad publicity with campaigns like an ad depicting Santa Claus encouraging children to paint toys with lead paint. The companies also refused to put labels on their products warning parents not to paint toys and cribs with that toxic product.
In the 1950s, it took local and state health officials to make the case that lead paint should be banned for interior use. The lead industry fought vigorously against that ban, which we now take for granted. Without regulation, paint would still have lead in it, and our kids would still be dying and suffering from brain damage because of it.
Historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner teamed up to document this shameful tale in Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution. Their book also tracks a second case of industrial foot-dragging, which involved vinyl chloride. That’s the ever-present stuff that PVC pipes, vinyl siding, and many toys are made from. The plastics industry first learned of animal studies in Italy suggesting that vinyl chloride caused cancer in 1970, but manufacturers hid this information from the public, the government, and their own workers for several years.
When the government found out, regulators proposed that the plastics industry lower the allowed level of exposure to vinyl chloride in its factories. The industry fought that logical measure, claiming that to lower exposure to the suggested levels would cost $90 billion and result in plant closings, job losses, price increases and massive economic dislocation, Markowitz and Rosner wrote. Government regulators overrode those concerns and lowered the permissible exposure level in 1975. The industry quickly found ways to comply with this new standard for less than $300 million, and none of those dire predictions came true. Those plastics manufacturers would never have done it on their own.
The stages of industrial denial are always the same:
- X is perfectly safe.
- Well, there’s evidence that X might cause some problems, but there’s no proof, and it could be something else.
- OK, X is harmful, but it’s irreplaceable.
- Well, there’s something else we could use instead, but it would be soooo expensive to change, and it would ruin our business and everyone associated with it.
- A new product comes out that’s better and cheaper than the old one.
Whenever you hear of someone making those claims, whether it’s about fossil-fueled climate change, illness-causing fireproofing additives in furniture, pesticides suspected of making bees die off, the potentially hormone-disrupting antibacterial agents in your soap, or anything else, get skeptical.
Although there certainly are cases where chemicals suspected of being harmful ultimately prove harmless, companies almost always deny the claim that their product is dangerous.
Just remember, in a truly free market, many companies would gladly poison you to earn bigger profits. Predictions of dire consequences if we impose regulations, or benefits if we remove them, rarely come true. And anyone advocating the outright elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, as several Republican presidential candidates did in our last election, is essentially saying they want to grant corporate America a license to kill.
David Reingold, a retired chemistry professor at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, now lives in Portland, Oregon. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org) Photo credit to matthileo/Flickr
— by Ryan Koronowski, Tiffany Germain, Guest Blogger, Dan Weiss, Guest Blogger and Jessica Goad
Over the weekend, Senate Democrats passed a federal budget for Fiscal Year 2014. In order to do so, Senate rules allow for consideration of any amendment that is brought to the floor. Senators introduced hundreds of amendments, which resulted in a “vote-o-rama.”
Many conservatives offered amendments to undermine existing and potential public health safeguards, particularly those that would attempt to reduce climate pollution. Below are seven deadly amendments to curtail protection for our children’s health and heritage. As usual, these conservatives are focused on protecting dirty energy companies profits at the expense of public health.
- Blunt #261: This amendment would have blocked future legislation to impose a carbon tax or fee to reduce industrial carbon pollution and raise revenue. Specifically, the amendment would create a “point-of-order” against any carbon tax measure that could only be overcome with a three-fifths vote of legislators. While it would have been a mostly symbolic move, the fossil fuel industry’s friends in the Senate are reiterating their opposition to government action on climate pollution. However, the impacts of climate change have already been felt across the country — in 2011 and 2012, the United States suffered from 25 climate related storms, floods, heat waves, drought, and wildfires that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, with a total price tag of $188 billion. The Blunt amendment would allow these damages and costs to grow unchecked. Result: FAILED 53-46
- Coats #514: This amendment would have struck down key Clean Air Act protections by authorizing the President to exempt any industrial facility from complying with air toxics standards for two-year periods. Essentially, the amendment would have given a free pass to coal-burning power plants from EPA’s 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which were put in place due to the well-documented health risks of mercury, arsenic, and the millions of pounds of additional hazardous chemicals. Methylmercury from coal pollution accumulates in fish, poisoning pregnant women and small children. Mercury can harm children’s developing brains, including effects on memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills. Upgrades to the aged and dirty coal plants will also significantly reduce harmful particle pollution, preventing hundreds of thousands of illnesses and up to 17,000 premature deaths each year. “The ‘monetized’ value of these and certain other health benefits would amount to $37–90 billion per year,” the Environmental Protection Agency determined. Republicans are once again trying to protect the dirty energy industry over our children’s health. Result: FAILED 46-53
- Alexander #516: This would “repeal … the wind production tax credit.” The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity to encourage investment in clean wind energy. A CAP analysis determined that “wind power helps lower electricity prices.” Along with state renewable portfolio or electricity standards, the PTC has enabled “the wind industry … to lower the cost of wind power by more than 90% [and] provide power to the equivalent of over 12 million American homes.” A Navigant Consulting analysis predicted that eliminating the PTC would cost 37,000 jobs. Some argue that we should end tax provisions for clean technologies, including wind. However, this ignores the fact that the oil and gas industries have received $80 in support for every $1 for wind and other renewable energy sources over the past 95 years. In addition, the Alexander amendment would ignore the annual $4 billion in special tax breaks for big oil companies. Result: Did not come to the floor for a vote.
- Inhofe #359: This amendment would “[prohibit] further greenhouse gas regulations for the purpose of addressing climate change.” This would have prevented the EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act as interpreted by the Supreme Court, which ruled that EPA is required to regulate carbon and other climate change pollutants that endanger public health and welfare. EPA proposed the first carbon pollution standard for new power plants in 2012. After it is finalized, EPA must set limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants — responsible for two-fifths of U.S. carbon pollution. Such reductions are essential to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Result: FAILED 47-52
- Cruz #470: This radical amendment would have limited the amount of land owned by the federal government in each state. It is yet another attempt by Republicans to give federal public lands over to states or private companies so as to better exploit them, and is in line with recent efforts of House Republicans to sell off “millions of acres” of public lands to private companies. Despite what this amendment implies, public lands provide tremendous economic benefits to local communities. For example, recreation and other uses of the 500 million acres of public lands managed by the Interior Department contributed two million jobs and $385 billion in economic activity in 2011. Result: Did not come to the floor for a vote.
- Vitter #544: This amendment would have dismantled the president’s authority to protect America’s historical and natural treasures under the Antiquities Act. Since it was passed in 1906, 16 out of 19 presidents have used the act to protect places like the Statue of Liberty, Muir Woods, the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Acadia. Just this week it was reported that President Obama would create five new national monuments including Delaware’s first-ever national park. The Vitter amendment would have kept the president from answering local communities’ calls to protect such places for future generations. Result: Did not come to the floor for a vote.
- Murkowski #370: This amendment states that it would “increase oil and natural gas production on Federal lands and waters,” despite the fact that oil production is at its highest level in 20 years. Additionally, the Congressional Research Service noted that over the last four years oil production from federally-owned areas was higher than in 2008, despite the fact that companies are choosing to “follow the oil” to shale plays on non-federal lands. Murkowski’s amendment isn’t the only one that would have sought to fulfill the wish list of the oil and gas industry — Sessions #204 would have opened the economically and environmentally vibrant coasts of Virginia and North Carolina to dangerous oil and gas exploration. Result: Did not come to the floor for a vote.
On Monday March 18, the GOP released its “Growth and Opportunity Project” or “autopsy” report that tried to determine why Republicans lost in 2012, and how to prevent future defeats. While the report did not mention climate or energy — or deal with much policy — it did talk demographics and messaging. The report urged that the Republican Party should change its tone, “… especially on certain social issues that are turning off young voters.” They need to “promote forward-looking, positive policy proposals that unite young voters,” and “be conscious of developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women.” And finally, they stress the importance of “addressing the concerns of minority communities.”
In their effort to do the bidding of big oil and other major polluters, the authors of these seven deadly amendments blithely ignore the findings and recommendations of this autopsy. The groups most harmed by and concerned about climate change are most supportive of addressing the problem: young people, women, and minority groups.
This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center forAmerican Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.
It’s up to Obama to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
After avoiding the topic of climate change throughout his second presidential bid, Barack Obama renewed his commitment to the climate in his first news conference following his re-election.
“I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions,” he said. “And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.”
If Obama believes what he said, he’s got a clear choice in front of him at the very beginning of his second term. He needs to reject — once and for all — the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, designed to carry viscous tar sands petroleum from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s up to Obama to stop the pipeline.
And it’s not a terribly difficult decision. Releasing the carbon from the Canadian tar sands into our atmosphere is a climate disaster waiting to happen. But even beyond the climate argument, it should be hard for the president to argue that it’s important to allow a foreign corporation — TransCanada — to bisect our country with the longest oil pipeline in the Western Hemisphere. This project puts Americans’ land and water at risk of damaging oil spills, while gaining very little for the American people in benefits like jobs and energy security.
The pipeline’s proponents tend to exaggerate its meager benefits.
For example, estimates of jobs this project would create range only from a high of about 20,000 (TransCanada’s estimate) to as low as 5,000 (the State Department). Even TransCanada acknowledges that its figure includes 13,000 temporary jobs, according to a formula that counts one person working for two years as two jobs. By comparison, the low-impact extension of the wind-energy Production Tax Credit passed as part of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations is projected to create and maintain far more clean-energy jobs — up to 54,000 of them.
The pipeline would advance U.S. energy security even less than job creation.
TransCanada can sell its oil — a global commodity — into the global market as it sees fit, which is why the pipeline terminates at a port in the Gulf of Mexico. This oil won’t necessarily stay in the United States. Even if it did, Canadian tar sands petroleum can’t “reduce our dependence on foreign oil.” It is foreign oil. Meanwhile, with both U.S. renewable energy production and oil drilling on the rise under Obama, we’ve already reduced our oil imports by around 1 million gallons a day (or 10 percent) between 2010 and 2011. We can continue lowering oil imports and increasing energy security without the risks of the Keystone pipeline.
In that first post-election press conference, as the East Coast began its recovery from Superstorm Sandy, Obama acknowledged “an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America,” as well as the acceleration of polar ice caps melting and global temperature rise. He took pride in the rise in fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks during his first term, and also acknowledged that “we haven’t done as much as we need to.”
This is Obama’s chance to do much, much more.
Tar sands oil is so much dirtier than conventional crude that Obama’s own EPA calculated that a full-capacity Keystone XL pipeline will add as much as 27 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere annually. That’s the equivalent of adding 6.2 million more cars to our roads. So much for those new fuel-economy standards.
The damages of the Keystone pipeline will far outweigh its benefits. Obama should reject the Keystone pipeline at the start of his second term.
Andrew Korfhage is Green America’s online and special projects editor. GreenAmerica.org. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)
Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags! It’s not just the State and Defense departments that are reeling this month from leaked documents. The Environmental Protection Agency now has some explaining to do, too. In place of dodgy dealings with foreign leaders, this case involves the German agrichemical giant Bayer; a pesticide with an unpronounceable name, clothianidin; and an insect species crucial to food production (as well as a food producer itself), the honeybee.
There’s a great article on “Grist” that walks you through the significance of using genetically modified seeds to grow genetically hostile crops that are potentially at the root of colony collapse disorder. Here’s an excerpt:
“Suppliers sell seeds pre-treated with it. Like other members of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides, clothianidin gets “taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen and nectar,” according to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), which leaked the document along with Beyond Pesticides. That effect makes it highly toxic to a crop’s pests — and also harmful to pollen-hoarding honeybees, which have experienced mysterious annual massive die-offs (known as “colony collapse disorder”) here in the United States at least since 2006. The colony-collapse phenomenon is complex and still not completely understood. While there appears to be no single cause for the annual die-offs, mounting evidence points to pesticides, and specifically neonicotinoids (derived from nicotine), as a key factor.”
“The document [PDF], leaked to Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald, reveals that EPA scientists have essentially rejected the findings of a study conducted on behalf of Bayer that the agency had used to justify the registration of clothianidin … asked l if the scientists’ opinion would inspire the agency to remove clothianidin from the market … [a spokesman] who asked not to be named but who communicated on the record on behalf of the agency, replied that clothianidin would retain its registration and be available for use in the spring.”
Think about that a minute and let it sink in. What are we going to do when the bees are no more, they no longer pollinate our crops, and food supplies begin to dwindle? Learn more and read Tom Philpott’s full article at Grist: http://grist.org/article/food-2010-12-10-leaked-documents-show-epa-allowed-bee-toxic-pesticide/
Soon it will be too late and we’ll have neither.
— by Lee Ballinger
I know what it’s like to depend upon coal to feed a family.
Many years ago, I worked at an Ohio steel mill. My job was at the coke plant where West Virginia coal was turned into coking coal for the blast furnace. The top of the coke ovens was an area the size of a football field where monstrous machines funneled coal into the ovens.
It was my job to put the heavy oven lids back on nice and tight. It was literally as hot as hell up there. It felt like walking barefoot on hot coals. The air we breathed was truly foul but to us it was the sweet smell of something like success.
We called it the smell of money because it paid the bills.
As soon as I got a chance to escape the coke ovens, I took it. I got a job on a crew at the blast furnace. But I couldn’t escape the coal. Like the devil or a bad check, coal will find you. It followed me to the blast furnace.
Big railroad cars full of coking coal arrived at the blast furnace every two or three hours. In the winter it would get as cold as twenty below zero and the coal would freeze solid into one huge mass. The company said that under no circumstances were we to climb into the open-top railroad cars to break up the coal. But the company also made it clear we better hurry up and get that coal offloaded.
So in we went, carrying big torches to heat the coal and pry bars to break it up. We prayed that it wouldn’t loosen all at once, given the danger that we might go down the chute with it. Many times on a cold winter night I had to gaze at my sleeping babies to motivate myself to leave for work on a midnight shift.
There was a small group of environmentalists in town who were hollering about the pollution from the steel mills. I got their point. But since they didn’t even give lip service to our need to feed our families, I dismissed them. In fact, I hated them and feared the changes they might be able to bring about. Jobs or the environment? That’s an easy choice. Jobs are more important.
Eventually, I was permanently downsized from the mill. The loss of my job caused severe dislocation for my family. It also made me see things in a new light. Facts and events that had once gone in one ear and out the other suddenly registered. Global warming. Poisoned rivers and oceans. Black lung disease. Hurricane Katrina. Oil spills. Coal-fired power plants spewing acid and deadly metals into our air.
Slowly and not always surely, I began to realize that the environmentalists I had once rejected as extremists were correct when they said that fossil fuels are destroying the earth. Coal and oil aren’t just causing some problems we can learn to live with in pursuit of economic survival. They are going to make it impossible for humans to live on this planet.
Jobs or the environment? Posing the question that way eliminates any chance of coming up with answers. It ignores the people who live at ground zero of the debate. I know first-hand what goes through the minds of coal miners as they sit at the kitchen table facing a pile of bills. “Yes, I know what some people say. They may even be right. But just give me one more month on this job so I can pay the rent, along with the electric and the credit card bills.”
Jobs or the environment? Soon it will be too late and we’ll have neither. Unless we come together under the banner of both.
In the next week, the EPA is expected to issue a decision on the pesticide Clothianidin — which scientists believe is a major factor in the alarming decline in U.S honey bee populations, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
Since 2006, one third of U.S honey bee populations have been dying off. One third. Every year. That’s a terrible rate of species destruction on its own, but it’s also a serious threat to our food supply. Honey bees play a crucial role by pollinating 71 of the 100 most common crops, which account for 90% of the world’s food supply.1
More than 125,000 CREDO Activists joined the Pesticide Action Network and other groups this March in urging the EPA to suspend its approval of Clothianidin.
The EPA will be issuing a decision soon. If the agency doesn’t act, it won’t review Clothianidin again until 2018 — and by then it could be too late for the bees.
Tell the EPA: Bee die-offs are an emergency.
Ban the pesticide that’s killing bees.
While the causes of Colony Collapse disorder are complex, studies are increasingly pointing to the role played by pesticides like Clothianidin.
Produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience, it is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola, and works by expressing itself in the plants’ pollen and nectar. Not coincidentally, these are some of honey bees’ favorite sources of food.
Shockingly, Clothianidin was approved without any independent study verifying its safety. The Pesticide was conditionally approved for use on corn — the largest crop in the U.S. – in 2003, and then fully approved by the EPA in 2010, on the basis of only one test conducted by Bayer, which EPA scientists later said was unsound and not sufficient to be the basis of an unconditional approval of the pesticide.2
Clothianidin has already been banned in France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany — the home of Bayer — but it continues to be applied to over 100 million acres here in the U.S., at the peril of bees and our ability to produce foods like apples, blueberries, almonds, pumpkins and dozens of other vital crops.
For the EPA to take action and suspend the use of Clothianidin it must declare bee die-offs to be an “imminent hazard.” With massive continuing die-offs of the species that is a cornerstone of our crop production, it’s clear that is the case.
Tell the EPA to protect honey bees and our food, not pesticide makers. It’s time to ban Clothianidin and save the bees.
1. “Pesticides and Honey Bees: State of the Science,” Pesticide Action Network North America
2. “Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags,” Grist, 12/10/10
— Press Release by EarthJustice, June 15, 2012
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally proposed updated clean air standards that will prevent thousands of premature deaths and take steps toward clearing hazy air. The EPA’s proposal comes in response to legal action filed on behalf of the American Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association by Earthjustice. The groups called upon the EPA to adopt final protections against particle pollution that follow the Clean Air Act’s requirements to protect public health and iconic national parks.
Particle pollution does not just make people die a few days earlier than they might otherwise—these are deaths that would not have occurred if the air were cleaner.
The groups are pleased that the EPA has at last proposed new limits on fine particulate matter or PM2.5, one of the deadliest and most dangerous forms of air pollution. Breathing particle pollution can cause premature death, heart and lung damage, and potentially even cancer and developmental and reproductive harm. This pollution also harms plants and wildlife inside protected natural sites, such as national parks, and negatively impacts the health of the hundreds of millions of people who visit these sites every year. The EPA will take public comment on a range of annual and daily standards, which are set to protect against long- and short-term exposure to particle pollution. EPA proposed choosing either 12 or 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air for the annual standard and 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air for the daily standard. The groups urge an annual standard of 11 micrograms per cubic meter of air and a daily standard of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
The agency is also proposing separate standards to limit the visible haze caused by particle pollution in many communities and national parks. The proposal includes two possibilities for daily standards, either 28 or 30 deciviews (a measure of “haziness”). To adequately combat the visibly filthy air pollution that mars vistas throughout the nation, the groups urge a stronger standard, no higher than 25 deciviews.
“Particle pollution kills—the science is clear, and overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution at levels currently labeled as officially ‘safe’ causes heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, Chair of the Board of the American Lung Association. “The Clean Air Act gives the American public the truth about pollution that is threatening their lives and health—just as they would expect the truth from their doctor.”
“This proposal is long overdue,” said Paul Cort, the Earthjustice attorney who represented the Lung Association and NPCA in legal proceedings. “The fact that the EPA has been put back on track by the courts is an important first step in this process, but now the agency needs to set strong final standards to protect people from this deadly pollution. The law requires it, and the millions of Americans who live in areas made filthy by particle pollution desperately need it.”
“Every year, millions of people visit our national parks expecting clean air and clear views,” said Mark Wenzler, NPCA Vice President of Climate and Air Quality Programs. “But they instead find their health compromised and the beauty of these sites degraded because of lax controls for particle pollution. The EPA has the authority to correct this, and for the health and welfare of our national parks and the many people who visit and enjoy them, it needs to act now to correct this problem.”
Soot or particle pollution—a microscopic mixture of smoke, liquid droplets and solid metal particles released by sources such as coal-fired power plants, factories and diesel vehicles— causes thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks and asthma attacks every year. The particles are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, making soot one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. The particles also contribute heavily to the haze that enshrouds many of our cities and national parks.
Earthjustice, the American Lung Association and Clean Air Task Force collaborated to produce a report last year titled Sick of Soot: How the EPA Can Save Lives By Cleaning Up Fine Particle Pollution. The report found that an annual standard of 11 μg/m3 and a daily standard of 25 μg/m3 could spare the American public every year from as many as:
- 35,700 premature deaths;
- 2,350 heart attacks;
- 23,290 visits to the hospital and emergency room;
- 29,800 cases of acute bronchitis;
- 1.4 million cases of aggravated asthma; and
- 2.7 million days of missed work or school due to air pollution-caused ailments.
The EPA will now publish the notice proposing the new standards in the Federal Register and take public comment. According to an agreement reached in principle by EPA, the Lung Association, NPCA, and various states, the agency will sign a final rule by no later than December 14, 2012.
Sam Edmondson, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2005
Jeff Billington, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 419-3717
Mary Havell, American Lung Association, (202) 715-3459
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency held public hearings on its recently proposed rule to limit the carbon pollution freely spewed by power plants that is causing catastrophic climate change.
Polluters, especially in the coal industry, will made hyperbolic claims that this rule will lead to an economic doomsday scenario. Of course, those are lies to protect their profits and ability to pollute freely.
Meanwhile, many environmental groups lauded the rule as an historic victory that will make significant gains against dangerous pollution. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, either.
The truth is that the Carbon Pollution Standard — while symbolically important because it will regulate carbon pollution for the first time — actually does nothing to reduce current pollution sources.1 Climate change is one of the most urgent problems before us, and the EPA needs to do a lot more. As they taking public input this week, this is an important moment to call for a stronger Carbon Pollution Standard.
The fact is, this rule is weak in a number of important respects. It applies only to unlikely-to-be-built, new coal-fired power plants. It is riddled with loopholes allowing new sources of pollution including some new coal plants.2 It does not reduce carbon pollution from natural gas plants which are also a significant source of carbon pollution. And it does nothing to reduce carbon pollution from much more significant existing sources.3
Because of the rising cost of coal, the low price of natural gas, and the tireless work of activists across the country raising concerns about the health and climate impacts of coal, we’ve already been able to block all new coal power plants. So while this rule does serve as an additional roadblock against building new coal plants if the economics of coal become favorable again, otherwise, it essentially codifies the status quo — making into regulation the facts on the ground already established by the hard work of community and environmental activists.
It’s sad that our political climate has been made so toxic by climate change denying Republicans — who literally voted to deny the science of climate change4 — that the very acknowledgement of the need to regulate carbon pollution by EPA is a victory and a positive step forward.
But in today’s actual climate — where much of our country just experienced record-shattering March heat waves after a disturbing lack of winter — it is not only disappointing but profoundly dangerous that this rule does little if anything to effectively reduce unregulated climate pollution.
Tell the EPA: We need stronger rules to protect us from existing and future sources of carbon pollution.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson — who has been one of the few people in the Obama administration willing to fight to address climate change and defend the Clean Air Act — is to be commended for her leadership on this rule, despite a begrudging White House whose hand was forced by a court mandate, and a Tea Party Republican majority in Congress so openly hostile and obstructionist to climate change policies. But it appears even she has her hands tied when it comes to moving forward on the carbon standard.
Having proposed a rule for new power plants, the EPA is now legally required to develop a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants, a much more significant source. But in announcing the new carbon standard, Administrator Jackson literally said in a press conference, “we have no plans to regulate existing sources.”5
If EPA fails to take action on existing power plants, then the measured progress represented by this rule will go down in history as a symbolic though essentially empty gesture.
It’s important to acknowledge progress. And to be upfront about the massive barriers that block even the most modest measures to address climate change. But it’s also essential that we recognize that fighting climate change is one of the most urgent challenges facing us as a nation and a planet. Nothing less than bold action is required, and we must not be satisfied with symbolic but essentially empty gestures no matter how hard won.
1. “Why EPA’s new carbon rules may not have much impact — for now,” Washington Post, March 27, 2012
2. “ New greenhouse gas rules riddled with loopholes,” Greenpeace, March 27, 2012
3. “The top five things you need to know about EPA’s new carbon rule,” Grist, March 27, 2012
4. “GOP-led House rejects science, 240-184,” Climate Progress, April 6, 2011
5. “What’s the deal with EPA carbon rules for existing power plants?” Grist, March 27, 2012
May 9, 2012
|Miles Grant, National Wildlife Federation, (202) 797-6855
Jared Saylor, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5213
If politicians in Washington know that protecting the air we breathe not only protects people and wildlife, but also helps spur our economy, then why are they trying to gut Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean air standards? On Thursday, May 10, the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund (NWF Action Fund) and Earthjustice are launching a seven-figure TV ad buy that highlights the economic and health benefits associated with a transition to a greener economy, while also raising public awareness and support for EPA’s new clean air standards to limit industrial air pollution from power plants.
Watch the ad:
“Clean air protects health and enhances our economy,” said Martin Hayden, vice president of policy and legislation at Earthjustice. “According to a Brookings Institute study, between 2003 and 2010, the clean tech sector outperformed the national economy as a whole, expanding 3.4 percent annually. Letting the EPA enforce the Clean Air Act and limit dangerous air pollution spewing from smokestacks will not only make it easier for Americans to breathe, it will also boost the clean technology sector and help create more jobs.”The ad focuses attention on a recent Department of Labor study showing that transitioning away from dirty sources of energy to clean technology development and innovation in turn creates jobs. In fact, the Labor Department study concludes that the transition to cleaner energy and technology has already created 3.1 million jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2012).
“Whether aimed at toxic air pollutants like mercury or dangerous carbon pollution, there are multiple benefits from job-creating clean air standards,” said Joe Mendelson, global warming policy director at the National Wildlife Federation, the sister organization of NWF Action Fund. “EPA air standards that clean up power plants are good for our economy, the health of our families and communities, addressing climate change and for protecting wildlife and their habitat.”
Congress is currently considering several legislative proposals to prevent the EPA from protecting public health with new clean air standards that would reduce air pollution from toxic substances like mercury, arsenic, soot, smog, carbon and other pollutants. Many of these new standards would save thousands of lives each year.
The ad campaign, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund and Earthjustice will appear in 12 major media markets in three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (including Washington, D.C. cable only). NWF Action Fund ads will appear in Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Toledo, OH; and Pittsburgh, PA. Earthjustice ads will appear in Harrisburg, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Wilkes-Barre, PA; Norfolk, VA; Richmond, VA; and Roanoke, VA. See the ad at: http://earthjustice.org/greener