An Inside Look at EPA’s Carbon Pollution Hearings

It was an exciting day for clean energy at the downtown Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

That’s where EPA held one of its two public hearings on the first ever proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants. (The other hearing was in Chicago).

EPA’s registered speaker list was jam-packed. In fact, they had to run the hearings in two concurrent rooms to allow everyone a chance to speak.

Americans representing a wide variety of interests, and from all corners of the political spectrum, streamed into the rooms throughout the day to share their views on the proposed standards. It makes sense, because this is a vitally important issue for our public health and our environment.

Fossil fueled power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in America. They’re responsible for a staggering 40 percent of U.S. heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.

EPA’s proposed standards will effectively halve the lifetime carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants relative to traditional coal plants, and they’ll provide a pathway for development of clean and low-carbon energy.

I had the privilege of testifying for EDF today. You can read my full statement here. (My colleague Rob Collier testified for EDF in Chicago, and will post about his experience soon).

I spent the morning with an incredible variety of speakers: faith leaders; doctors, nurses and other health experts; moms; veterans; entrepreneurs; conservation, clean air, and environmental advocates; and supporters of energy efficiency from labor and industry.

They all provided testimony to EPA supporting this huge step forward toward reducing the climate destabilizing pollution spewed from our power sector.

Some people spoke about how the higher temperatures caused by carbon pollution will enhance the formation  of ozone pollution — commonly known as smog — which exacerbates respiratory and other health problems. Other people talked about how their health has been affected by smog and its role in triggering asthma attacks.

The diversity of individuals participating was a testament to the far-reaching impacts of a changing climate.

There were a handful of detractors, of course, who tried to challenge the overwhelming science and prudent policymaking underpinning EPA’s action to address carbon pollution. But they were clearly outnumbered.

Today was a decisive victory for our side – for advocates supporting action against carbon pollution. 

Another sign of victory today – Gene Karpinski of the League of Conservation Voters told reporters that almost 1.4 million Americans have submitted comments to EPA supporting the new carbon pollution standards.

You can still be part of that victory. EPA is accepting comments on the proposed standards until June 25, and you can submit a comment through EDF’s website and help show the wide-support for efforts to reduce dangerous climate pollution. You can learn a lot more about the proposed standards on our website as well.

Testifying today was an incredible experience. I’m looking forward to Rob’s report from Chicago. I hope their hearing was as big a success as the one here in Washington, D.C.

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