As a society, we all enjoy the benefits of readily available electricity. There are many ways to generate power for electricity; however, these ways are not equal in their costs to people and the environment. Power plants that use carbon-based fuel generate air pollutants as a waste product. The public health costs of air pollutants motivated the United States congress to pass the Clean Air Act of 1970. It authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air pollutants. The Clean Air Act has saved literally trillions of dollars in public health costs.
Over the years, we’ve learned more about air pollutants and their effects on our atmosphere. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that a specific group of air pollutants generated by human activity, known as greenhouse gases, are “extremely likely” to be the cause of global warming trends. In 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has authority to regulate these gases as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
Currently, the full cost of power generation using carbon-based fuel is not borne equitably. Greenhouse gases emitted by power plants have a greater impact on the people and ecosystems that are most vulnerable to poor air quality and the effects of global warming. EPA’s Clean Power Plan brings justice to power generation by requiring controls for greenhouse gases. The current administration has removed the plan’s webpage, but you can read EPA’s archived information about the plan. Nothing in the plan prohibits the use of carbon-based fuel for power generation. The plan simply requires the control of greenhouse gas emissions, so power generated from the fuel will reflect the true cost of power generation, instead of subsidizing the cost with the health of people and the environment.
By executive order, President Trump directed the current EPA administration to review all regulations related to energy. In response, the EPA has proposed a repeal of the Clean Power Plan. The proposed repeal is open for public comment until January 16, 2018, and the EPA is holding its only public hearing on the repeal this week. Now is the time for people of faith to advocate for justice in our system of power generation.
What You Can Do
- Tell the EPA to keep the Clean Power Plan by submitting comments on the repeal at: https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/clean-power-plan-proposed-repeal-how-comment
- Express support for the Clean Power Plan by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper. Here’s an example of a letter to the editor. https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/gazette_opinion/op_ed_commentaries/people-of-faith-care-for-creation-and-clean-power/article_ad79d8ea-fe19-5ef3-8b36-cc6fe94bd1f7.html
Find suggestions for wording your letters and comments at: http://www.txipl.org/content/repeal-clean-power-plan