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Climate control gradualism on my daughter’s birthday

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on February 23, 2010

Today is my daughter's birthday.  She's 14, a young teenager beginning to make her way into the world.

So it’s with a swirl of emotion that I watch the battle unfold on Capitol Hill, where a phalanx of politicians is seeking to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.

  • Facing heavy political pressure, the EPA signaled yesterday that it will take a gradual approach to phasing in its anticipated carbon dioxide (CO2) regulations for industrial sources.  EPA administrator Lisa Jackson stated in written comments to Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia that she expects to "phase in permit requirements and regulation of greenhouse gases for large stationary sources" – coal-fired power plants, among other heavy polluters – "beginning in calendar year 2011."
  • Jackson also stated that the EPA does not intend to subject the smallest sources to Clean Air Act permitting for greenhouse gas emissions any sooner than 2016.

Politicians pushing to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases called Jackson’s statement a positive signal.  

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska applauded what she perceived as a backing away from EPA’s determination to regulate greenhouse gases under the "endangerment finding" the EPA reached last spring.

That finding, based on an extensive review of the science and on hundreds of thousands of public comments, concluded that greenhouse gases do indeed pose a threat to human health and well-being.  PSR’s executive director Peter Wilk, M.D. provided comments on the proposed finding last May.

Sen Murkowski is a prominent advocate for stripping the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and has introduced a resolution to that effect.  PSR has joined with other national health organizations to send a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing Murkowski's resolution.

  • Today, Jackson defended the science underpinning greenhouse gas regulation before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

As a member of PSR's staff, I'm dismayed to see the number of politicians willing to discard the scientific evidence that human activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels, is causing climate change.

As a mother, I am heartbroken and horrified to watch as politicians from coal and oil states threaten our children’s world with catastrophic climate chaos. 

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