So far more than 1.7 million people, including more than 9,000 people from Maine, have written to support the first-ever national safeguards essential to protect Americans from climate-changing carbon pollution from new power plants! That makes two historic firsts, because this is the also largest number of public comments ever received by the EPA. Power plants are the largest sources of carbon pollution nationwide, but currently there are no national limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can emit.
If adopted, these rules would essentially stop the construction of new, polluting coal power plants in the United States—a necessary step to curb climate change and improve air quality.
The rules are required under the Clean Air Act, the nation’s #1 tool for addressing air pollution of all kinds.
On May 25, I had the opportunity to testify in person at an EPA public hearing on these proposed rules in Washington, DC. You can see a five-minute video of my testimony here (or click here to read my prepared remarks).
Maine has everything to gain, should these rules be adopted. That’s not only because we are so vulnerable to climate change—from eroding beaches, to ticks, to loss of winter weather—but because we have to deal with the pollution from coal power plants upwind of us. This continues to wreak havoc on our air quality, contributing to Maine’s disproportionately high levels of asthma and respiratory illness. Why should states like Illinois and Ohio be allowed to pollute and get cheaper electricity from burning coal while Maine people pay the real price? It’s time to change direction.
Did you know that Maine has 23,000 kids and 93,000 adults with asthma? Add to that staggering number another 60,000 adults with emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Did you know that warming temperatures will exacerbate that problem? That’s because more smog (“ground level ozone”) is formed when temperatures rise, which means more asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases. The Union of Concerned Scientists has predicted 15,000 additional cases of serious respiratory illness in Maine by 2020 if warming trends continue. That’s a lot more kids staying inside on bad air days or sitting on the sidelines while friends play soccer. Is that the Maine we want?
The EPA needs to hear from you before the comment deadline of June 25. We’re aiming for 2 million comments nationally! These rules are an essential first step to even better protections down the road—which is one reason why they will be opposed every step of the way by the coal and oil lobbies. Fossil fuel lobby groups are pouring money into ads attacking the EPA, and, if the rule is adopted, they will pour their resources into lobbying the Congress to overturn it—just like they are currently pulling out all the stops to defeat other Clean Air Act protections. Once the EPA adopts carbon pollution standards for new power plants, it will face the politically more difficult task of taking on existing power plants.
For all these reasons, we need our voices to be loud and strong now. These fossil fuel groups don’t use facts, they use money. A single coal lobby group just launched a $40 million media blitz to oppose these and related air quality rules. Oil, gas, and coal companies spent over $500 million lobbying Congress in 2009-2010! And Exxon Mobil alone gives over $1 million to candidates and political campaigns every cycle. The only way to push back is with the power of our voices, our millions vs. theirs.
—Dylan Voorhees, NRCM Clean Energy Project Director
- Learn more about climate change and air pollution.
- Download a copy of Global Warming in Maine: Warning Signs, Winning Solutions