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Dr. Walter Tsou EPA Carbon Rule Testimony

Testimony of Walter Tsou, MD, MPH,
Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility on
Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants
July 29, 2014 

To the Members of the EPA Panel:

My name is Dr. Walter Tsou. I chair the board of Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility and have served in the past as Health Commissioner of Philadelphia. I applaud the EPA for forwarding your Clean Power Plan that sets achievable goals for states in order to reduce carbon pollution nationwide. We are also likely to have additional benefits of reducing SO2, mercury, PM 2.5, ground level ozone and nitrogen oxide.

The National Climate Assessment leaves no doubt that the burning of fossil fuels has produced carbon pollution that has made climate change and global warming a public health threat of epic proportions. As a public health physician, I have witnessed permanent environmental destruction from fracking, extreme weather changes forcing serious displacement of people and property across the world, island countries at risk of being submerged as sea levels rise, asthma as the leading medical reason for school truancy, heat related deaths after prolonged heat waves, fish contaminated by mercury, and tropical diseases previously unseen in temperate climates. These are only within my personal limited lifespan which is a mere speck of Earth’s lifespan. In short, we are seeing seismic changes unraveling before our very eyes.

As stewards of our planet and as responsible parents to our children, we cannot sit on our hands while we know that we are facing a global crisis of immense proportions. 

These proposed regulations are important, but the bare minimal steps that need to be taken. Indeed, I would argue that these measures do not go far enough. In crafting these regulations, we recognize that how states achieve these goals will vary, but we also know that these restrictions will force renewed attention to renewable energy sources. It is the latter goal of moving us toward renewable sources that could transform how we prepare America for our energy needs for future generations. Electric cars will transform how we consume fossil fuels. Future homes will have geothermal wells, energy efficient windows and appliances, and solar panel roof shingles. More of us will be vegetarians. 

Opponents to these regulations will argue that the cost of energy will go up and that we are decades away from the utopian dream of renewable energy. In terms of costs, consider the economic cost of the drought in California, the rebuilding of New Orleans, New York and New Jersey after their hurricanes, the bleak future for our children on a planet that is two degrees warmer. And in terms of the "pie in the sky", renewable energy? Well I think we are up to the challenge. America does best when we have our eyes on a goal and we use our creativity to achieve it. The technology exists today.  These rules will start moving us in the right direction.

Page Updated August 1, 2014