Concerned Citizens Speak Out for Clean Air

Jun 14, 2012

On June 11, 2012 concerned citizens gathered in Charlotte, NC to offer their support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. This event, hosted by Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, St. Paul Baptist Church, Clean Air Carolina, National Council of Churches, US Climate Action Network and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, was held to collect citizen comments to deliver to EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson.

EPA is required to regulate and set standards for all air pollutants, including greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), under the Clean Air Act. EPA’s newly proposed rule will provide New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to reduce the harmful impacts of carbon pollution that result from new coal, oil and natural gas-fired power plants. This citizens hearing provided the opportunity for the general public to voice why clean air is vital to their overall health and welfare and to offer support for the proposed rule.

Many of those who spoke at the citizens hearing shared their own experiences with asthma and other health-related concerns caused by air pollution. Jonathan Pullin, on the board of the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, provided information on documented studies showing a correlation between respiratory diseases and CO2 pollution. Autumn Picarsic, age 13, declared that she liked what EPA is doing and asked EPA to please finalize the carbon rule because she wants a healthy life and future.  “If the earth gets too hot, imagine what life will be like for my children when I get older.”

Michelle Barbeau, program coordinator for Clean Air Carolina (CAC), spoke on behalf of the organization in support of EPA’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide pollution on new power plants and urged the EPA to also set CO2 limits on existing power plants. “North Carolina is home to 14 major coal plants which emit huge amounts of CO2 and other air pollutants every day.  We encourage the EPA to take swift action to ensure that existing coal plants are also restricted in the amount of CO2 they can emit. This would encourage states to retire older, less efficient and more polluting plants earlier and would spur expedited generation of renewable energy which is carbon-free.” Read CAC’s comments in full here.

In their Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), EPA noted that by reducing carbon pollution from power plants, they would begin to address the disproportionate health impacts to communities of color and low-income communities from these power plant emissions. Air pollution also significantly impacts children and the elderly.

“Across America we see low-income and minority children and families at a disproportionately higher risk for asthma and respiratory illnesses. Air pollution and other challenges are having serious health effects, which compound economic challenges through medical bills and missed school and work days,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in a press release about the Obama Administration’s efforts to close the racial gap on asthma. “As the mother of a child with asthma, I know what it means for our children to have clean and healthy air to breathe.”

When fully implemented, these new rules will hold large polluters accountable, as there is currently no limit on how much carbon can be emitted from power plants. At two billion tons of CO2 emission annually, coal-fired power plants are the largest carbon polluters in the U.S.  One concerned citizen said he applauded EPA for their efforts to “bring our power generating technology into the 21st century.”

EPA is accepting comments until June 25th, so you still have two weeks to say why clean air is important to you and let EPA know you support the Carbon Pollution Rule.