Maine Groups, Citizens Push EPA to Hold Industrial Polluters Accountable for their Carbon Pollution
Augusta, Maine — In response to a daunting new National Climate Assessment (NCA), which predicts wide ranging impacts of climate change in Maine and across the U.S., the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Environment Maine, and Sierra Club Maine are launching “100 Days of Climate Action” to demonstrate Mainers’ support for immediate and strong action by the Obama Administration to limit industrial carbon pollution.
“The National Climate Assessment confirms that we are seeing climate change now, and the cause is primarily the burning of fossil fuels,” said Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “There’s no longer any question that we need to confront this problem head-on, with 2012 setting records for the hottest year ever, and more and more extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy. The issue begs for leadership. Through our activities over the next 100 days, we’re intending to move our leaders to finally and substantially face and address the climate crisis.”
The new NCA reveals that Maine and the Northeast can expect more severe heat waves, extreme precipitation events, and coastal flooding due to sea level rise. University of Maine Professor of Sustainability Science Robert Kates was one of the lead authors of the Northeast regional assessment. As President Obama prepares to take the oath of office for the second time next Monday, groups say the 100 Days of Climate Action is meant to highlight for him these terrible impacts and also remind him about the promise he’s made to address the climate crisis.
“This report makes clear that action to reduce industrial carbon pollution is truly urgent. We call on President Obama to rise to the challenge and move ahead quickly with strong carbon standards for new and existing power plants,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor.
“The costs of climate disruption are already alarmingly high, and this authoritative report underscores the urgent need for President Obama to lead on moving our country to a cleaner, safer and more affordable energy future,” said Glen Brand, Director of Sierra Club Maine.
The groups are looking for the President — with support and leadership from Congress as well — to build on the progress achieved through new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, fulfill his promise to address the climate crisis, and restore America’s leadership role in addressing global climate change with these four steps:
- Finalize Lifesaving EPA Air Pollution Protections — Complete the Carbon Pollution Standard for new power plants, which the Senate must not undermine, despite the desire of polluters to do so;
- Public Health from Rising Temperatures and Extreme Weather — Establish a new Carbon Pollution Standard for existing dirty power plants, America’s largest producer of dangerous carbon pollution;
- Appoint a Climate Change Champion to head the EPA — With EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s departure, President Obama should appoint a new EPA Administrator who is a climate change expert and is committed to finishing the work Jackson started, and standing up to the big polluters who have spent millions to delay or block life-saving clean air standards;
- Move Forward With Clean Energy For America — Support job-creating incentives for clean and renewable energy and efficiency, which will reduce our reliance on oil, and enhance America’s energy security.
Over the past year, a broad, diverse set of leaders, citizens, businesses and constituencies from across Maine have repeatedly called on Washington to protect clean air and reduce global warming pollution.
“This week’s news reports shouted out that 2012 hottest year on record,” said Jim Wellehan, President of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes. “Such heat waves, as well as severe hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires, can be tied directly to our increase in climate changing emissions. There are so many actions we can take to reduce pollution, which also help our economy and competitiveness, such as reducing energy costs through efficiency and clean energy. Every step we can take to slow or reduce climate change now is critically important to our welfare and to rebuild a prosperous economy.”
“Unless we act now, climate change will be a serious threat to the viability of civilization within this century,” said Stephen Mulkey, President of Unity College. “The window of opportunity for action is rapidly closing. Unity College has taken action by divesting its endowment from fossil fuels, teaching sustainability science throughout our curriculum, and minimizing the carbon emissions from our operations. We need leadership and action at every level, including from President Obama, to reduce this threat. We are running out of time.”
“The Maine Medical Association calls upon our national leaders to address climate change as one of their top priorities in the coming term,” said Dr. Lani Graham, co-chair of Maine Medical Association’s Public Health Committee. “A warming climate is a significant threat to public health in Maine and elsewhere. Vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly are at particular risk from the health impacts of climate change.”
“Warming temperatures increase smog formation, which is an important driver of asthma attacks and other respiratory illness,” said Dr. Daniel Oppenheim, co-chair of Maine Medical Association’s Public Health Committee. “Warming temperatures also increase insect-borne diseases and Maine has seen a significant increase in Lyme Disease with the warming we’ve already experienced.”
“2012 was the hottest year on record in the US and winter temperatures in the Northeast are now 4 degrees warmer than they were 40 years ago,” said Dr. Paul Perkins, Board Member, Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility. “With the increasing incidence of all sorts of climate change related health problems including the recent discovery of West Nile virus in Maine, if we do not act soon to significantly curb the burning of fossil fuels, these illnesses will only spread threatening our health and adding an additional burden to our already severely limited public health care system.”