No Turning Back on Clean Power

As the game-changing Clean Power Plan becomes official, we must stand together to move forward and ensure a healthier future.

The official publication of President Obama's Clean Power Plan in the Federal Register gives our states and our people exactly what we need to fight climate change our way -- by cutting carbon pollution from the power plants in our own backyard.

In the coming months, that's what most states and power companies will focus on as they draft their own custom roadmaps for the exciting clean power journey ahead. That's because most Americans understand that climate change is already imposing huge and mounting costs, imperiling our future and threatening our children. They know the Clean Power Plan is the single-biggest step we can take to help fight this widening scourge. And they're already working to do their part.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, Big Coal and its political allies have spent months cooking up schemes to try to block the progress we need. They'll send lawyers to court brandishing lawsuits written to anchor our future in the dirty fuels of the past, while their lobbyists press Republican leaders on Capitol Hill to put polluter profits first and the rest of us at risk.

They're not going to get away with it -- the stakes are too high for that.

We just finished the hottest summer since global record-keeping began in 1880, with world land and sea temperatures 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average. Last year was the hottest year ever recorded. And 19 of the hottest years on record have all occurred in the past two decades.

Small wonder that seven in ten Americans understand the planet is warming. No surprise, either, that the pool of doubters who dismiss the definitive science on the issue has reached a shallow 16 percent of the population -- the lowest in modern time. Those are the findings of a poll taken in September by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College, another sign the tide is turning toward real action on climate change.

Among Republicans, 26 percent doubt that climate change is real, down from 41 percent a year ago. That suggests the possibility that Americans of all political stripes may be starting to converge around the need to face up to this problem.

I'm optimistic. Our future shouldn't divide us by party; it should unite us as Americans. That's what the Clean Power Plan is all about: It calls for a 32 percent reduction in carbon pollution from our nation's power plants over the next 15 years. That's important because in our country, power plants account for about 40 percent of the dangerous carbon pollution that's driving climate change. Most of the rest comes from cars and heavy trucks, and the president has put in place plans to cut carbon pollution from those sources as well.

President Obama's plan sets a national goal we can achieve. And it looks to each state to develop its own approach to hit the target. Some will invest in efficiency, others will get more power from the wind and sun or tune up their generating systems for optimal performance -- or some combination of all these options.

That puts the people of each state in the driver's seat. It gives everyone a voice in how this gets done. And it gives us all a role to play in the shift to the clean and renewable energy sources we know can power our future, put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work, and strike a blow against the central environmental challenge of our time.

I've let my governor, state delegates, and representatives in the House and Senate know how important this plan is to my family. I've gotten word to the White House, too.

Now that this plan has been published, I'm going to remind all of them how important it is that we go forward. I hope you'll join me and do the same.Stand up and let your voice be heard. We won't turn back now. The stakes are too high.