Diverse Praise for EPA's Carbon Pollution Standard

Yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency made a breakthrough in protecting public health, by proposing the first-ever standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. Already, a healthy show of support has bloomed, praising the EPA and the Obama administration for taking this critical step forward to protect public health from dangerous carbon pollution. 

As NRDC’s President Frances Beinecke explains:

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…

If you know one of the 25 million Americans living with asthma, then you know someone whose health is already threatened by carbon pollution. Carbon pollution causes climate change, and rising temperatures make smog worse. Every day that smog hangs over our cities is a day many asthma sufferers struggle harder to breathe.

In fact, millions of Americans support EPA’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution, according to a bi-partisan poll sponsored by the American Lung Association earlier this month, which found that:

72 percent of voters support new standards for carbon pollution from power plants and support is strong (63 percent) after hearing arguments from both sides of the issue.

And the ALA itself said of the new standard:

Power plants should not be allowed to emit unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air.  Scientists warn that the buildup of carbon pollution will create warmer temperatures which will increase the risk of unhealthful smog levels.  More smog means more childhood asthma attacks and complications for those with lung disease.

Health Care Without Harm and the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) were quick to welcome the EPA’s move as well. Dr. Elena Rios, NHMA’s President said:

As doctors, nurses, and health professionals, we know that carbon pollution is particularly dangerous for children because it makes smog pollution worse, which triggers asthma attacks and permanently damages and reduces the function of children’s lungs.

The American Public Health Association’s Executive Director Georges Benjamin stated: 

The American Public Health Association welcomes a new standard for new power plants released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will strengthen the Clean Air Act, reduce carbon pollution and protect public health.

Climate change and rising temperatures expose more Americans to conditions that result in illness and death due to respiratory illness, heat-related stress and insect-borne diseases. These maladies fall most heavily on our most vulnerable communities, including children, older adults, those with serious health conditions and poor people.

Latino groups Voces Verdes and Presente also came out strong, with Presente’s Executive Director Arturo Carmona saying in their joint release:

As the nation’s largest online Latino advocacy group, Presente is very pleased that EPA has announced these new standards to protect our health by limiting carbon pollution that causes global warming. This is a critical issue for Latino communities who will feel the impacts of climate change closely and directly whether from worsening smog, harsher summers, or worsening drought.  Presente will be active in bringing Latino voices to weigh in on the importance of this standard in the weeks to come.

Faith groups weighed in as well. Evangelical Environmental Network issued a release in support of the standard, as did Catholics United, which made this statement:

Catholics United welcomes this [standard], as care for God’s creation is a central component of Catholic social teaching. Pope Benedict XVI, commonly known as “the Green Pope” as he has made the environment one of his top concerns, often speaks out in favor of protecting the earth and limiting the effects of global climate change.

Catholics United welcomes the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule” said James Salt, executive director of Catholics United, “This White House has demonstrated the courage to address the great moral challenges of our day, even in an election year. Care for creation is a central moral concern for many people of faith.

Over 125,000 businesses support the EPA’s new standards, as a joint release from American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and E2 explained. The Clean Energy Group, Ceres, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and the Small Business Majority (SBM) also issued statements, with SBM saying the EPA’s new carbon standards will

...help spur innovation and provide opportunities for small businesses to grow. What’s more, rules such as these are supported by a majority of small businesses—our primary job creators.

National opinion polling we released in September found 76 percent of small business owners support the EPA regulating carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Another 87 percent believe improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small businesses.

And yes, environmental groups had something to say about the new standards too. See statements from Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment America, National Wildlife Federation, Earth Day Network, The Climate Reality Project, Green For All, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, World Resources Institute, Audubon and League of Conservation Voters.

UPDATE: The BlueGreen Alliance applauds the new clean air protections today, saying:

The standard announced by the EPA is key to moving America to a cleaner, more efficient economy. Over the last 40 years, safeguards like these have spurred us to innovate — resulting in less waste, more efficiency, and greater economic competitiveness. Today’s rule ensures that new power plants will be built cleaner and more efficient, creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring that the nation is competitive in the 21st century economy.

About the Authors

Pete Altman

Director of Federal Campaigns

Join Us