Congress may be paralyzed, but ordinary people are taking matters into our own hands. We are writing our leaders by the million, and we are delivering a clear and simple message: it's time to clean up the pollution that is destabilizing our climate and endangering our health.
More than one million Americans have told the Environmental Protection Agency they support standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. This is the most responses the EPA has received on any issue ever. But we aren’t stopping there. We plan to generate two million messages before the public comment period is through.
It should come as no surprise Americans are standing up for our families. We all want to walk outside without seeing a yellow-brown layer of smog hanging over our communities. We want to watch our children play soccer without worrying bad air quality will trigger an asthma attack.
And we want to visit our parents without wondering if the next heat wave will send them to the emergency room.
Reducing carbon pollution will help make these improvements in our daily lives possible. Failing to hold polluters accountable, however, will make these hazards worse.
Carbon pollution causes climate change, and rising temperatures make smog worse. The American Thoracic Society—the professional association of lung doctors—recently said climate change is especially dangerous for children and senior citizens because their lungs are more vulnerable to respiratory diseases caused by smog.
Meanwhile, extreme heat waves brought on by climate change are also a health risk, especially for senior citizens. A few years ago, one single heat wave in California was linked to 655 people’s deaths, 1,620 hospitalizations, and more than 16,000 excess emergency room visits—resulting in nearly $5.4 billion dollars in medical costs.
We can reduce these health risks by reducing how much carbon pollution we put in the air. We can also help defuse the droughts, wildfires, and floods caused by climate change that are already turning people’s lives upside down and costing communities billions of dollars in damages.
It's no wonder Americans welcome a measure that will protect us from these harms. The standards proposed by the EPA in March will create the first-ever limit on how much carbon pollution new power plants can release. This will usher in a 21st century power fleet and ensure that any new power plant built in America will use the latest clean technologies.
Big coal companies don’t like being encouraged to innovate. They would rather stay dirty than modernize, and they have fought the new carbon standard every step of the way.
We must continue to make our voices heard above the din of the fossil fuel industry. One million comments from concerned Americans certainly gets attention. Two million will get more. If you haven’t already written to the EPA in support of the new standards, I urge you to do so now. Together, we can set another record.