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Hundreds Pack EPA Hearing Calling for Climate Action
People of every stripe took to the podium on Thursday in Chicago and Washington, D. C., in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to reduce carbon dioxide pollution emitted from power plants. From anglers to students to teachers, people praised the EPA, with many speakers stressing that the agency’s “carbon rule” is a first and an unprecedented step toward curbing global warming.
“There has never been a more urgent time to stop the carbon pollution that is fueling climate change and ocean acidification,” said NWF’s Director of Policy Joe Mendelson, who testified during the hearing. [Read Joe’s testimony here.]
Speakers told EPA officials that impartial scientists all over the world maintain that greenhouse gases are warming the planet at an unsustainable rate. Global warming trends already underway threaten wildlife, habitats and biodiversity.
Global warming is probably the greatest threat to wildlife in modern history. If nations do not curb climate change, we could see the loss of one-quarter to one-third of all species on earth over time. Many species are not able to adapt quickly enough to rapid temperature changes.
“Without a national policy that begins to tackle carbon pollution, these problems will accelerate in speed and force and may become unstoppable,” said Mendelson. “We cannot leave future generations wondering why we waited to take the next step.”
Advocates told EPA that the agency’s action is especially critical because Congress has failed to take effective action and international negotiations have been anemic. Leadership in Washington is critical, they stressed.
The Carbon Rule
Following a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming EPA’s authority to reduce carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act, EPA has proposed the first Clean Air Act standard for industrial carbon pollution from new power plants. The proposed rule applies to new, not existing, generating units.
There are currently no uniform national limits on the amount of carbon pollution new power plants can emit. EPA determined in 2009 that “greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment,” according to an EPA press release.
Wildlife, Habitats at Risk
As early as 2007, the National Wildlife Federation called climate change a “triple threat to waterfowl hunting.” Climate change can dry up prairie pothole breeding grounds. Some migratory birds will stay in ice-free areas instead of flying south in winter and coastal wetland habitats can be flooded by sea level rise. Warmer temperatures can also alter the timing of vegetation, food and cover for wildlife, disturbing nature’s synchronization for many ducks and geese.
Carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases are warming the planet, threatening wildlife and long-established and much-loved outdoor traditions for millions of Americans.
EPA’s proposed limits on carbon pollution are a courageous step forward. Supporting EPA’s efforts will not only clean up the air, but help sustain our country’s hunting, fishing and outdoor traditions.
The turnout for these national, precedent-setting hearings, along with the over one million Americans who have sent in comments supporting the EPA’s action, demonstrates that a vast swath of the American people want the EPA to do its job.
TAKE ACTION. You can still send a message to EPA to tell them you’re concerned about wildlife and you support a strong carbon pollution rule. Take action now!