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Earth Day, the White House, and on to action!

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on April 22, 2010


PSR is off to the White House!  We were invited to join President Obama in celebrating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  We’re being represented by our board president, Dr. Jeff Patterson.  Pretty neat!

It’s neat because it means that PSR’s health message is recognized as an essential element of environmental concerns – especially in regard to climate.  We consider climate change to be a health crisis that we must prevent, because it is one that we cannot cure.

There are concrete actions we can take to assure that we prevent the worst consequences of global warming.  Here are three that PSR wants encompassed in U.S. climate legislation:

1.  Oppose limits to the EPA’s authority to control greenhouse gases. 

Climate legislation should preserve the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s authority to use the Clean Air Act to reduce global warming pollution.  The Clean Air Act is one of our most valuable tools for protecting Americans from dangerous air pollution.  It has worked effectively for 40 years, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and maintaining a healthier environment. 

Now it's time to use the Clean Air Act to regulate “greenhouse gases.”  The EPA has proposed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from vehicles and from the largest industrial emitters, like refineries and coal-fired power plants.  These reductions would protect public health, create jobs, and promote innovation for clean renewable energy.  Congress should put no limits on EPA’s ability to take effective action.

2.  Require existing coal-fired power plants to comply with health-based air quality standards, just like proposed new plants. 

If existing coal plants are not required to meet the same standards as new coal plants, existing plants will be able to keep on running, even ramping up carbon dioxide emissions, for decades. At that point, it will be difficult or impossible to achieve the steep emissions cuts necessary to avoid the worst anticipated effects of global warming.  Coal-fired power plants should be required to clean up their dangerous emissions now.

3.  Include a strong federal Renewable Energy Standard (RES) and efficiency standard.

With a strong RES, we could double the number of clean-energy jobs in the U.S. by 2025.   Yet if we don’t have a national standard, many states could actually lose clean energy jobs.
Energy efficiency must be increased too.  It’s underutilized, yet highly productive.  Efficient use of energy results in positive economic impacts and a big cut in air pollution.

It starts on Earth Day and continues on Thursday, April 29 in our “Day of Action.” We’ll be telling Congress that strong climate legislation is necessary for health.  To join us in Washington or take action in your community, sign up here.


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