EDITORIAL NOTE: This guest blog post was written by Joyce Lanning, member of the LWVUS Climate Change Task Force and Board member of the League of Women Voters of Alabama (LWVAL) and the League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham (LWVGB).
As a member of the Climate Change Task Force of the League of Women Voters of the US, I drove to Atlanta from my native Birmingham, Alabama, last week to explain why it’s critical for the U.S. to cut carbon pollution. I was one of 400 people scheduled over two days to comment on a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lower carbon dioxide emissions from power plants – a necessary measure to protect our public health and planet.
Addressing the Problem Now is Cheaper Than Business as Usual
My concerns around air pollution date back to 1971, when a dangerous toxic haze hung over the city of Birmingham. Thanks to the EPA, the emergency powers of the then one-year-old Clean Air Act were invoked to temporarily close the city’s smokestack industries. It worked. Implementing the past provisions of the Clean Air Act turned out to cost far less than opponents had predicted.
Power plants are responsible for 40 percent of the carbon pollution in the United States, making them the single largest source of that pollution in the country. And while carbon pollution is invisible, its effects are anything but. Carbon pollution has devastating effects in regard to lost or impacted lives, health, jobs and overall property and prosperity. Our nation’s flawed price signa lfor electricity means that these impacts are paid by all of us, but not directly in the electricity bills we pay. Research shows that immediately addressing the problem of carbon pollution is far cheaper than waiting.
Standing Up for Clean Air and Climate Action
At last week’s EPA hearing on carbon rules, I was glad to see spirits high and pro-clean air and climate action signs held aloft among the folks marching from the Woodruff Park Rally for Climate Action to the hearing site at the Omni Hotel. The resolve was strong and the mood was festive.
Inside the hearing rooms, the mood was serious and respectful as three EPA staffers listened intently to each of us, occasionally asking questions for clarification. League leaders speaking included Elizabeth Poythress, president of the League of Women Voters of Georgia and Maribel Balbin, president of League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County. LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara also took the floor, calling for cutting carbon emissions by 35 percent by 2030 as well as greater emphasis on energy efficiency and renewables.
Left to right: Elizabeth Poythress, President, LWV Georgia; Joyce Lanning, LWVUS Climate Change Task Force and board member LWV Alabama; and Maribel Balbin, President, LWV Miami-Dade County
What’s at Stake with the EPA Clean Power Plan?
While some corporate interests are supporting carbon reductions, others are fighting these critically needed measures to protect our public health and our planet. It’s crucial that we take immediate action. Reducing the negative impacts of carbon pollution is important to our health and our economy. The impacts are being felt now will only become worse for us all, especially for low-income and minority citizens.
How You Can Help!
The EPA’s call for public comments on its proposed carbon rules continues through October 16, 2014. We must continue to voice our support for this life-saving measure. You can help by telling the EPA you support its groundbreaking proposal to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. You can read the League’s Toolkit for Climate Action for steps you can take to curb climate change in your state or community.