This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | April 17, 2012
As we reported late last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally proposed new standards to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas pollution from new coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants. As the single largest emitter of CO2 pollution in the United States (coal plants dump more than two billion tons of CO2 into the air every year), these behemoths are prime targets when seeking carbon reductions to protect public health from the harmful effects of climate change. Even though these new standards will not address existing coal plants, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) strongly supports EPA’s proposed standards as an important first step in protecting public health, combating climate change and someday, perhaps, pushing old, out-dated coal plants to retire.
But before EPA could even announce these new standards, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) was already vowing to kill them. Sen. Inhofe is generally considered to be biggest climate change denier in the U.S. Senate and will likely use any tactic available to slow or rollback these public health and climate change safeguards including disapproval resolutions, invoking the Congressional Review Act, or working to strip EPA’s funding.
If these climate change deniers (including Sen. Inhofe) slow or stop the EPA standards, we will likely pay more because of climate disasters than if we had just worked to cut carbon emissions. In 2011, the U.S. suffered from a dozen billion dollar weather/climate disasters that scientists confirm were exacerbated by climate-warming pollution. While no part of the country was spared, few areas were more impacted than the Southeast as pictured in the map created by NOAA below.
Unless we set limits on new sources of carbon emissions, today’s pollution will cost us all dearly tomorrow for future expenses triggered by climate change, such as damage caused by sea level rise, severe weather and drought. Despite Sen. Inhofe’s efforts, these standards are already having an impact in our region. Within days of EPA’s announcement, Power4Georgians (the consortium of four utility co-ops behind the last two proposed coal-fired power plants in Georgia) agreed to cancel plans for Plant Ben Hill, due in part to these newly proposed standards.
Before these safeguards can become the law of the land, EPA will accept public comments about the proposed standards until June 12. For the next two months, SACE will lead efforts in the Southeast to urge members, allies and concerned citizens alike to voice their support for these standards by submitting letters or emails or by speaking at an upcoming public hearing (more details will be shared as they are made available). Take Action today so that these standards, already five years in the making, can begin saving lives, creating jobs and protecting our environment.