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Excitement about climate action seen at Chicago EPA listening session

Hannah Girardeau

Posted November 11, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Solving Global Warming

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On Friday, hundreds of citizens from Illinois and other Midwest states stood up to tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they support strong standards for power plants to protect our communities from climate-warming carbon pollution. At the last of 11 listening sessions held at locations throughout the country, light blue shirts reading “Climate Action Now” filled the three rooms dedicated to hearing testimony on standards to control carbon pollution. Mothers and grandparents, students, people of faith, business owners, community leaders, environmentalists, and your “average Joe” concerned citizens stood up, one after another, and demanded that EPA impose strict standards on power plants, which currently are allowed to put unlimited amounts of climate damaging carbon pollution into the atmosphere. Their message was clear: for the future of our planet and communities, we cannot afford to delay taking action on climate change any longer.

EPA Listening Session EPA Listening Session

Although coal has contributed to a large part of the Midwest’s history, this old way of doing business is fading as the energy sector moves towards greater efficiency and cleaner sources of power. Coal’s dominance is slipping in large part due to the lower costs of other sources of energy – coal no longer reigns as the cheapest option, even ignoring its many negative environmental and health impacts. But the climate crisis makes this conversion even more necessary, and we need swift action from EPA to ensure that we can meet the targets necessary for heading off the worst of global warming.

In the United States, power plants account for 40% of the carbon pollution driving climate change. That’s 40% of the pollution headed into our air right now, primarily from decades-old power plants that have never been subject to safeguards against carbon pollution. On Friday, Midwest voices made clear that we cannot continue to put our health, particularly that of our most vulnerable populations, at risk for a dirty and expensive form of fuel.

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EPA Listening Session EPA Listening Session

Our health and safety depend on reversing years and years of relentless pollution with no regard to the true cost. To turn the tides of climate change, we must work together with President Obama, the EPA, our state officials, and our neighbors. The solidarity seen in downtown Chicago during Friday’s listening session is an important first step toward stopping carbon pollution in the Midwest.

EPA Listening Session EPA Listening Session

Left: NRDC Chicago Staff: David Weiskopf, Blake Korb, Sylvia Garcia-Sadowski

We are grateful to the EPA for providing citizens with the opportunity to remind the country that we are ready to “Act on Climate NOW.” It is up to EPA and the states to heed the enthusiasm and support voiced at the session and do their part by moving swiftly to adopt standards and plans to cut power plant carbon pollution.

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Comments

Kenneth GlickNov 12 2013 03:15 PM

A colleague of mine attended the Chicago listening meeting and although he and I both support EPA's new coal burning initiative, he told me that the meeting was packed with almost all environmentalists, most of whom would be considered 'activists'.

I can't help wonder iIf the EPA would've gotten such a warm welcome if it held a similar meeting in, say, West Virginia or Tennessee where angry coal miners abound.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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