This summer, President Obama committed the U.S. to be a global leader on curbing climate disruption and proposed that we start by limiting carbon pollution from power plants. Currently, there are no limits on the amount of carbon pollution spewed into the air by power plants. It’s time to change that.
As they prepare to set carbon pollution standards for existing power plants, the EPA is holding a listening session on November 7 in Dallas for community members and stakeholders. This is your opportunity to let your voice be heard and to tell the EPA that our planet and our futures depend on strong, just action to address climate disruption.
WHO: You, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and climate activists
WHAT: EPA listening session on carbon limits
WHEN: November 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
WHERE: 1st Floor Auditorium, J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas, TX (map)
RSVP: Click here to RSVP
Questions: Contact Kaiba White at [email protected] or 512-637-9462.
We’ve known for decades that carbon wrecks our health and our climate, and power plants are the nation’s top source. Their pollution fuels climate disruption — it makes wildfires burn hotter and droughts last longer. Warm summer weekends become scorching heatwaves and floods become disasters. Unlimited carbon pollution means more smog, more asthma attacks, and more climate disruption.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT CARBON POLLUTION FROM SOUTH CENTRAL U.S. STATES
- Total Carbon Emissions from Power Plants
- Texas: 232 million tons of CO2 per year (#1 in the country)
- Louisiana: 51
- Oklahoma: 49
- Mississippi: 25
- Arkansas: 37
- Total Carbon Emissions from Power Plants and Factories and Oil/Gas Drilling
- Texas: 394 million tons of CO2 per year (#1 in the country)
- Louisiana: 140
- Oklahoma: 72
- Mississippi: 38
- Arkansas: 47
Texas is the number 1 carbon polluter. First in total emissions. First in emissions from power plants. First in emissions from power plants and factories and oil/gas. No other state is even close. More than double the #2 state.
The drought in Texas and Oklahoma the last few years has cost U.S. taxpayers over $5 billion in crop insurance programs.
The largest emitter of carbon pollution in Texas is Energy Future Holdings. Their power plants are Big Brown, Martin Lake, Monticello, Sandow, and Oak Grove.
In addition to carbon pollution, these EFH plants are the largest sources of toxic mercury pollution, soot pollution, and NOx pollution that causes our ozone red and orange bad air days.
DRAFT TESTIMONY IDEAS ON VARIOUS CARBON POLLUTION TOPICS
CLIMATE CHANGE AND DROUGHT
Coal and gas-fired power plants hurt our communities and our climate. They are the worst sources of climate pollution in the United States, and until now, they’ve been allowed to pollute without limits.
Carbon pollution is the main cause of climate problems, which means more droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels. This costs Americans over $140 billion a year. Each family’s share is over $1,000 per year. Fossil fuel companies are getting rich, but our families and communities pay the bill. We need to make polluters may for their pollution, not the rest of us.
Carbon pollution is also linked to dangerous air pollution like the smog that triggers asthma attacks. As our summers get hotter and longer, we’ll get more red and orange alert smog days in our cities.
The things we love most about our states (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, or Mississippi) are at risk.
Do we want our grandkids to inherit a Louisiana without coastal marshes, because we were unwilling to stop sea level rise from climate change?
Do we want our grandkids to inherit a Texas or an Oklahoma where we have droughts that last year after year and make it impossible for ranchers and farmers to make a living, or for our cities to have enough water to keep our neighborhoods and businesses growing?
Scientists are telling us that unless we tackle climate change, drought will become the new normal in Texas and Oklahoma. These two states and the rest of the West will face substantial losses in rainfall. The drought we have experienced the last 3 years will become the new “normal”, with parts of TX and OK getting 20% to 40% less rain every year than they did before climate change.
Do we continue to allow polluters to dump their carbon pollution into our atmosphere, or do we make them pay to stop their pollution?
That is the choice that is in front of us today. We are the last generation that can take action to stop the worst effects of climate change. Its up to us, and we need EPA leadership through strong carbon rules as soon as we can. I am asking EPA to finalize a strong carbon rule and put our electric sector on a path to 100% renewables as quickly as possible.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND RISING SEA LEVELS AND DISAPPEARING WETLANDS
No part of the country is more susceptible to the damage of climate change than coastal Louisiana. The incredible wetlands along the coast have been ravaged by decades of oil and gas development, misguided levee projects, and sea level rise caused by climate change. In fact, some of the fastest rates of sea level rise in the world are happening along the Louisiana coast. Coastal Louisiana has seen sea level rise of eight inches in the last 50 years, which is more than twice the global rate.
Unless we reduce carbon emissions quickly, the bottom portion of Louisiana will continue to be converted from wetlands into open Gulf Water. Do we want our grandkids to inherit a Louisiana without coastal marshes, because we were unwilling to stop sea level rise from climate change?
That doesn’t have to be our future in Louisiana. With strong EPA action, we can save our coastal marshes and preserve the unique ecosystem that is Louisiana.
I favor strong EPA action, and encourage EPA to finalize a carbon rule that puts us on a carbon free trajectory as quickly as possible.
CARBON POLLUTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Coal burning is responsible for nearly one-third of U.S. carbon emissions—the air pollution that is the main contributor to climate disruption.
Together with natural gas and oil burning, EPA’s greenhouse gas inventory shows that power plants are responsible for 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from the nations large polluters.
Low income communities and people of color suffer disproportionately from air pollution because they live closer to industrial facilities like power plants.
But, no one is safe. Many types of power plant air pollution can travel hundreds miles and across state lines from their original source, so even those who live farther away may suffer health problems. Air pollution from power plants can be an equal opportunity pollutant, affecting rich and poor, white, black, and brown, young and old. The red and orange ozone alerts we get every summer affect children with asthma in every neighborhood. Almost 10% of U.S. children suffer from asthma — nearly 7 million kids. This epidemic costs more than $56 billion per year, including hospital costs, lost school and work.
But we know that the Clean Air Act can be a powerful tool to protect Americans. Since the EPA implemented air quality standards in the 1970s, life expectancy for Americans nationwide has increased by more than 2 years.
Climate disruption has already taken a toll on our country, manifesting in extreme weather like massive hurricanes, intense storms, devastating droughts, deadly wildfires, and record-breaking heat waves. Glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising. Scientists and meteorologists agree that climate disruption is happening and that carbon pollution is a major contributor.
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to take action to address carbon pollution. New safeguards to limit carbon pollution from power plants will ensure that our kids, our communities, and America’s workforce are healthier, while also creating much-needed jobs and fighting climate disruption.
We need rules that make polluters pay. Companies that emit large amounts of carbon pollution should have to pay to reduce their emissions. We should the renewables companies like the wind industries in Texas and other states spend billions to produce pollution free electricity, when the coal and gas companies get to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere without limit.
It’s unfair, it’s not right, and it has to stop.
CLEAN ENERGY AND JOBS OF THE FUTURE
If the clean air protections are strong enough, then rich fossil fuel companies will no longer get a free pass to pollute. They won’t be able to dump unlimited amounts of climate pollution into our air anymore. Strong EPA action will also protect families from dangerous air pollution like toxic mercury, dirty soot and the smog that triggers asthma attacks.
Importantly, we can’t give a free pass to natural gas — more gas in the electricity sector just means more fracking and more pollution. We need strong standards that limit pollution from coal AND natural gas-fired power plants, and we need a commitment to true clean energy like wind and solar. If you add the emissions from burning of natural gas to the emissions of methane from all the pipeline leaks and drilling operations, you see that natural gas isn’t a bridge fuel, it’s a gangplank. Short term schemes that only delay taking real action can’t become our long term plan. We need massive investments in the infrastructure that will provide jobs now, and for our kids and grandkids. In this part of the country that means wind turbines, solar panels, utility-scale geothermal plants, and miles of new transmission lines. These projects will create jobs, they won’t need to be replaced in a few years because of environmental problems, and they don’t make our climate or public health problems worse.
Polluters can’t balance their books on the backs of the poor, people who live near power plants, or children in our cities who struggle to breathe when ozone levels go up. We don’t need polluting power plants to produce electricity.
Renewables are a win-win – we can modernize and clean up our communities and create new jobs for our workers. The wind industry now employs over 80,000 American workers. The U.S. installs a new solar power system every four minutes. A strong carbon standard will end the subsidies and end the unlevel playing field that the coal and gas industries have enjoyed for decades. A strong standard will help further modernize America’s electric sector and create jobs.
PARTNERSHIPS AND WORKERS
Hundreds of people took time off of work, or away from studying, and brought their friends and families to speak out in favor of strong protections against climate pollution today. The Sierra Club advocates for worker protections as we transition to a clean energy economy in our states and that includes asking all decision makers, including utility companies, to ensure a responsible transition for workers.
We applaud the EPA’s efforts to limit climate pollution from coal-fired power plants. But if these standards fail to reduce climate pollution from natural gas plants, then the EPA will miss the opportunity to fulfill the President’s promise to address climate pollution.
President Obama made it clear that the federal government will use climate as a yardstick for environmental decisions going forward. So he should direct the EPA to ensure that his administration’s efforts to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants also significantly limit pollution from all natural gas-fired power plants.
Below please find a list of listening sessions offered around the country and a point of contact for each if you have any questions. Each session will begin with brief introductory remarks followed by EPA listening to public input about reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants. You are invited to stay for as much of the session as you can and you may sign up for one or more sessions. Registration is highly encouraged due to large expected turn outs. If you are unable to attend one of these listening sessions, EPA is accepting input through the Contact Us page or at [email protected].