EPA Hearings Show Just How Much Polluting Energy Companies Are Desperate And In Denial
In early June, the Environmental Protection Agency issued the latest piece in the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan: a proposed rule to dramatically cut carbon pollution from America’s coal-fired power plants in the coming decades. The rule is an essential step for public health and for slowing the effects of climate change.
Today marks the next formal phase in the rule-making process: public hearings on the rule are taking place today and tomorrow in four cities around the country, with up to 1,600 people slated to offer their comments. These individuals include some of the foremost proponents and opponents of the rule — and the activity surrounding these hearings encapsulates just how desperate and out of touch polluters and their allies who oppose the rule are.
Take Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA). In remarks at an event at the Heritage Foundation, Kelly likened the new EPA rule to terrorism. “You talk about terrorism — you can do it in a lot of different ways,” he said. “But you terrorize the people who supply everything this country needs to be great — and you keep them on the sidelines — my goodness, what have we become?”
This isn’t the first time climate deniers and opponents of renewable energy solutions have made this outrageous comparison. In fact, Rep. Kelly is really just drawing from the talking points of polluters. The polluter-front group Environmental Policy Alliance ran a print ad in Washington, D.C. media last month making similar comparisons, and the Koch-backed Heartland Institute lost funding after running billboards that equated people who believe in global warming to the Unibomber in 2012.
Here’s another: At the public hearing on the EPA rule in Washington, D.C., the Vice President of coal mining giant Peabody Energy referred to the climate science of which 97 percent of scientists agree as “climate theory.”
On the other side, Center for American Progress Vice President of Energy Policy Greg Dotson also testified at the hearing, urging the EPA to stay committed to reducing emissions: “protecting our children from carbon pollution is your legal duty. And it’s everyone’s moral obligation.”
In addition, the White House released new evidence to coincide with the hearings that warns of the cost of climate inaction. The report estimates that delaying climate action to the point at which emissions rise to 3 degress Celsius above pre-industrial levels, rather than 2 degrees, would cost the U.S. economy $150 billion a year.
Here are just a few other facts on why the new EPA rule, and the projected 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions because of it, is so vital:
- 6,600: The possible premature deaths avoided annually when a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions is achieved.
- 150,000: The possible number of asthma attacks per year avoided when a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions is achieved.
- 490,000: The possible number of missed school or work days avoided when a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions is achieved.
- $93 billion: The possible economic value of the public health benefit when a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions is achieved.
- $7: The amount in health benefits that Americans will see for every dollar invested as a result of this plan.
BOTTOM LINE: The new EPA rule is a huge step for public health and for our children’s futures. The companies that oppose this rule are desperate, dirty, and in denial. For other health threats like arsenic, mercury, and lead, we set limits on contaminants to keep people safe. But we let dirty power plants release as much carbon pollution into the air as they want. That needs to change.