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Kelly Henderson’s Blog

A Chance for Millennials to Feel Strong: Taking Action to Limit Industrial Carbon Pollution

Kelly Henderson

Posted April 13, 2012

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The best way to get people excited about something or willing to support a cause is giving them the feeling of empowerment. Feeling strong and knowing that an action one takes will have direct consequences on a future outcome can help persuade many individuals to stand up to something they feel is important. I believe this is especially important with today’s millennial generation. It’s sad and an unfortunate misrepresentation that many of the youth in our country have been slapped with the “lazy and unmotivated” stereotype due to many of today’s social norms. The truth is that we millennials are in fact dying to be the opposite; we want to be the source behind change and we want to feel empowered knowing that there is something we can do that will make a difference in the way people think, feel and act.

Some experts have said that the reason why President Obama won the 2008 presidential election is because he promised change and our country’s youth felt it was time to bring in a president who cared about and wanted to hear what they thought. According to CIRCLE, a non-partisan organization that promotes research on the political engagement of Americans between ages 15 and 25, an estimated 22 to 24 million young people voted in the 2008 election, an increase in youth turnout by at least 2.2 million over 2004’s election. If that isn’t proof that youth are seeking a voice in change then I’m not sure what is.

Fortunately for the millennials, today is a perfect opportunity to take an action that is essential to protect the health of many Americans and bring cleaner power to the country. On Tuesday March 27th, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first national limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new electric power plants (called the Carbon Pollution Standard). Power plants are the nation’s largest source of dangerous carbon pollution.  More than 1500 power plants across the country release a whopping 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year.  (Check out how much pollution comes from your nearby power plants, here.)  This proposed standard requires that each new plant will need to meet a specified emissions rate -- 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity produced -- that is technically feasible and economically reasonable. Read more about the health implications and what the specifics of the standard are in my colleague, David Doniger’s blog, here.

Here is where people get to take action! Today, April 13th, 2012, the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standard will officially be published in the Federal Register which starts the clock for the 60 day comment period; a chance for everyone to tell EPA why limiting industrial carbon pollution is so important. As NRDC President, Frances Beinecke, writes in her blog, “These historic safeguards are critical to ensuring a cleaner future for American communities: no longer will new electric plants be able to endanger our health with unchecked carbon pollution and the climate change it causes.” Sending comments is the best way to ensure your voice is being heard on why this standard is critical to ensuring Americans have cleaner air to breathe for years to come.

So here is a call to all millennials to stand up and feel strong about taking an action that will directly better the lives of American families for years to come: join the millions of Americans who have told EPA that they support its efforts to protect Americans’ health with new standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. By sending a comment, you will help be responsible for the first national limits on industrial carbon pollution ever in the U.S. That is something I think we can all feel empowered by.

Visit NRDC’s Action Center to tell EPA and your Congressmen and women that you support a standard to limit dangerous carbon pollution critical to protecting the health of Americans, here.

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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

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