Champions of the Clean Power Plan Stand for Wildlife

Wildlife like this moose calf will benefit from a strong Clean Power Plan. Photo by USFWS

Wildlife like this moose calf will benefit from a strong Clean Power Plan. Photo by USFWS

On Wednesday the Senate committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) convened their first oversight hearing on the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, with new chairman Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK). The Clean Power Plan is a landmark rule for curbing carbon pollution from power plants and protecting wildlife by addressing climate change. Though opponents tried to attack and discredit the rule, with strong science and a majority of the public behind it, action on climate change stood strong.

All of the rule’s supporters on the EPW committee attended (with the exception of Senator Sanders who had a budget meeting conflict) including Senators Boxer, Booker, Cardin, Carper, Gillibrand, Merkley, Markey, and Whitehouse.

Clean Power Plan Defender in Chief

The EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, Janet McCabe, was the witness and aggressively defended the rule. Some of the highlights from her defense:

“The Science is clear. The risks are clear. And the high costs of climate inaction are clear. We must act.”

“These rules came about because EPA made an endangerment finding that CO2 was harming public health and welfare and that we have responsibility and authority under Congress’s Clean Air Act to move forward”

“There are opportunities in West Virginia and Indiana and everywhere to reduce carbon pollution”

“We all have to act. And if everybody says we’re not gonna act because we don’t think anybody else will act, then CO2 emissions will increase, temperatures will continue to rise, the oceans will get more acidic, we will have more drought, we will have more heat waves, we will have more suffering around the globe and in this country as a result”.

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Warming waters from climate change harm cold-water fish like trout. Photo by USFWS

Warming waters from climate change harm cold-water fish like trout. Photo by USFWS

Both Senators Merkely and Whitehouse mentioned the impacts that climate change is having on species in their states and the ultimate effect that it is having on the economy. Senator Merkley stressed the negative economic impacts that climate change is having on his state, noting that “oysters are having trouble forming their shells because the ocean is 30% more acidic”, pine beetles are ravaging Oregon’s forests, and drought has hindered the state’s agricultural industry.

Senator Whitehouse mentioned the decline of shrimp and lobster in their native habitat, “the culprit principally, is warming ocean waters caused by global climate change” and that “generally, fish species off the northeast US are collectively moving to higher latitudes and deeper water in search of the cooler temperatures they require to survive”.

Other highlights from the questioning:

“The president’s proposal will enable America to lead the way to avert the most calamitous impacts of climate change” ~ Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

Tweet: Thank you @SenatorBoxer for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimateTweet: Thank you @SenatorBoxer for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimate

“This is something that is having a huge impact on our economy, our rural way of life, on our fishing, our farming, and on our forests right now” ~ Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Tweet: Thank you @SenJeffMerkley for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimateTweet: Thank you @SenJeffMerkley for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimate

“A healthy environment and a robust economy go side by side” ~Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Tweet: Thank you @SenatorCardin for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimateTweet: Thank you @SenatorCardin for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimate

“I support this rule wholeheartedly” ~ Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Tweet: Thank you @SenWhitehouse for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimateTweet: Thank you @SenWhitehouse for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimate

“The administration’s proposed rules are strongly supported by health professionals” ~ Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Tweet: Thank you @SenGillibrand for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimateTweet: Thank you @SenGillibrand for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimate

“There is criticism that the proposed rules of the administration are going to limit reliability of the system, but we already know that extreme weather, climate change, is in fact limiting the reliability of our electricity grid” ~ Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)
Tweet: Thank you @MarkeyMemo for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimateTweet: Thank you @MarkeyMemo for standing up for wildlife and defending the Clean Power Plan! #actonclimate

McCabe was presented with many questions from both sides in regard to the ability of the system to remain reliable with the enforcement of the Clean Power Plan. She responded to Senator Markey’s above comment with: “The worst thing for reliability is to do nothing”.

We’ll need these Senators and many more to stand strong, as we know the Clean Power Plan will come under attack in Congress. Reach out to your Senator and ask them to vote against bills or amendments that threaten to delay or weaken the Clean Power Plan! Wildlife can’t wait for climate action!

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