Making House (and Senate) calls for clean air and clean energy

This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | March 1, 2011 | Climate Change, Energy Policy

Yesterday, 1Sky Florida supporters visited Senator Bill Nelson’s offices in Miami (Coral Gables) and Orlando to urge his support in protecting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, blocking assaults on human health, and championing important environmental protections and clean energy incentives. A large coalition showed up to both offices that included staff and volunteers of 1Sky Florida (a project of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and 1Sky),  Citizens Allied for Safe Energy, Eco-Action, Climate Change is Elementary and Kids Ecology Corps (two programs that engage youth in solving the climate crisis) as well as climate scientists and clean energy business leaders.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that EPA was obligated to regulate greenhouse gases as an air pollutant under the decades-old law, the Clean Air Act. Reducing the level of greenhouse gases will not only slow climate change, but it will also reduce pollution that causes a range of health impacts and will help transition to a clean energy economy by making renewable power cost-competitive with the heavily subsidized coal and oil industries.

These visits were planned because fossil fuel industries are working with allies in Congress to undermine the protections from the CAA, and last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill that would

In response, 1Sky has mobilized a grassroots outcry across the country to protest this assault on our health, environment, jobs and families, and to urge U.S. Senators and Representatives to take action to prevent such extreme measures from becoming law now or in the future.

Among those who visited Sen. Nelson’s offices was Dr. John Van Leer of the University of Miami’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences who presented information about glacial melt in Greenland due to warmer air and water temperatures that has lead to earthquakes measurable on the Richter scale. He and other scientists presented findings of rising temperatures that are leading to ocean acidification and ecosystem impacts, particularly for coral reefs which generate $2.5 billion in annual income in Florida alone.

Barry White of Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE) attended these meetings to voice his concern that energy must become a major focus for the Administration and the Congress. “The production, distribution, safety and financing of energy are critical to our nation’s economic recovery, and we implore Senator Nelson to lead the way in these efforts,” White shared with Congressional staffers.

Last week, supporters of 1Sky, Environment Florida and students from Florida Youth Environmental Sustainability Coalition met with the chief of staff at Miami-area U.S. House of Representative Mario Diaz-Balart’s office to hold him accountable for supporting the House-passed legislation that would undo important health protections. Cutting funds for CAA enforcement may actually lead to increased spending down the line as elevated asthma rates and respiratory problems will likely mean increased health spending for all taxpayers. A better way to drastically reduce government budgets for 2011 would be to close the $53 billion royalty-payment loophole that greatly benefits oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico at the expense of American taxpayers.

Congress is still at work debating this spending bill to keep the government funded through the 2011 fiscal year (through September 30, 2011) and beyond, so considering taking time to visit a local congressional office this week or pick up a phone or send an email to Speak to your Senator or Write your Rep and express your support for the public health and environmental protections that citizens in our country have enjoyed for decades.

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