Obama Delaying Action on Carbon Pollution: Quite Damaging

Power plants are the nation’s single largest source of climate change causing air pollution pumping roughly 2.4B tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year.  Setting standards to limit this air pollution are critically needed to tackle the climate crisis and two recent Supreme Court rulings (2007 and 2011) have said the Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) to set these standards. President Obama has the power to makes this happen quickly.

Unfortunately, late last week, Obama’s EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, told reporters that the agency would not meet a September 30th deadline for proposing these new air pollution standards.  The delay – a second delay in fact – runs counter to EPA assurances recognized by the Court this year.

Extreme Weather Sends Us a Message

Every day the Obama Administration delays cleaning up these power plants, it only serves to fatten polluter profits and leave communities on the front line dealing with increasingly virulent climate change impacts.  Just several weeks ago, President Obama joined New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in visiting areas damaged by the flooding Passiac River,  Texas Governor Rick Perry left the campaign trail to address raging wildfires back home, and the Northeast endured record floods in places like Vermont, Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York State. More extreme weather events like these are exactly what scientists expect in our climate change world.

courtesy ibtimes.com

During the past 50 years, the greatest increases in heavy precipitation occurred in the Northeast and the Midwest. . . . Changes in these kinds of extreme weather and climate events are among the most serious challenges to our nation in coping with a changing climate. Many types of extreme weather events, such as heat waves and regional droughts, have become more frequent and intense during the past 40 to 50 years. U.S. Global Change Research Program Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States  (at page 32).  



Stalling Action Costs Us Dearly

The bottom line is that new delays in limiting carbon pollution kick the can down the road in addressing the increasing costs of climate change.  This year’s wildfires in Texas have caused record costs of $150 Million in Bastrop County. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will cost more than $2 billion to repair the damage to the nation’s levees, dams and riverbanks caused by this year’s excessive flooding. This figure doesn’t even include the recent damage from Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee.  One risk management firm has pegged the Irene-caused losses at up to $4.5B and Lee’s costs are still being calculated.

NWF says it is critical that our nation builds on the successful track record of the Clean Air Act and uses it to tackle urgent threats like carbon pollution and mercury. Take Action: to support the Clean Air Act and Climate Action!

A proper response to the communities facing these enormous impacts should not be delay in addressing one part of their root cause. The Obama Administration – as outlined in this NWF letter – needs to move quickly to announce a firm schedule for proposing and completing these new standards. And it needs to get these standards in place by no later than 2012. There simply is no more time to waste.