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Coal fight now focusing on CO2 and EPA

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on May 13, 2009

Many of you have been fighting to prevent the construction of dirty new coal plants.  Now we have a chance to fight against coal pollution on a massive scale, not just one plant at a time.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to declare that global warming pollution is a threat to the public health and welfare of the United States.  If they adopt their finding as policy, it will allow the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) and five other greenhouse gases. 

That would totally rewrite the rules for challenging coal plants, which produce almost 40% of CO2 emissions.  If the EPA decides to restrict those emissions to protect health, then coal’s days are numbered.

And that would mark a major breakthrough in protecting the planet from the worst extremes of climate change. 

Climate change is a grave threat to public health.  As CO2 blankets the earth, it holds in the sun’s energy.  Earth and ocean temperatures begin to climb, giving rise to grave health consequences:

  • The deadly effects of heat waves, especially on poor urban populations, children and the elderly.
  • Increased formation of ozone, triggering more asthma attacks and aggravating lung and heart diseases.
  • Devastating wildfires and droughts. 
  • Declining water supply.  Decreased food supply.
  • Contamination from garbage, pesticides and sewage due to flooding and storm surges.
  • The spread of vector-borne and other infectious diseases.
  • Population displacement from extreme weather events and rising seas.  Environmental refugees.

Global warming is one of the gravest threats to health the world has seen.  We have to stop CO2 emissions if we are to stave off its worst effects.

Over the next two weeks, PSR’s executive director and members of the PSR board will provide expert testimony at EPA hearings on global warming and health and the EPA’s proposed finding.  Check back next week for a report on the first hearing -- and to see how you can take action.

Comments?  Respond to bgottlieb@psr.org.
 

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