Public hearings on historic carbon pollution standards take place today

May 24, 2012
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Washington, DC) Experts from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will join hundreds of other Americans today to testify at two public hearings on historic carbon pollution standards for new fossil fuel power plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding the hearings in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. The all-day hearings will focus on the first-ever national emission standards to reduce the amount of carbon pollution emitted into our air from fossil fuel power plants.

“These historic clean air standards will provide long overdue and urgently needed protections for our health and climate while strengthening our made-in-the-U.S.A. clean energy economy,” said Mandy Warner, Climate and Air Policy Specialist for EDF, who testified in Washington D.C.

Fossil fueled power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in America, responsible for a staggering 40% of U.S. heat-trapping carbon dioxide. The proposed standards, which EPA announced in March, would require fossil fuel power plants to emit no more than one thousand pounds of carbon dioxide for each megawatt-hour of electricity they produce – which would halve the lifetime carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants relative to traditional coal plants.

“Each year U.S. power plants discharge over 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution, an amount that exceeds total carbon emissions of industrialized nations such as Russia, Japan, and Germany,” said Research Analyst Rob Collier, who testified for EDF in Chicago. “In the interest of the health and prosperity of our citizens, ecosystems, and economies, we simply cannot afford additional delay”

You can read Mandy Warner’s full testimony [PDF] and Rob Collier’s full testimony [PDF] on our website.

Research by the U.S. Global Change Research Program indicates that continued emissions of carbon pollution and other heat-trapping gases are very likely to cause increasingly grim impacts on American communities, including:

  • Rising levels of ground-level ozone pollution – commonly known as smog — which causes an increased risk of respiratory infections, more asthma attacks, and more premature deaths
  • An increase in the number and severity of heat waves, and an increased risk of illness and death from extreme heat
  • More intense rainstorms, hurricanes, and storm surges
  • More wildfires and increasingly frequent and severe droughts
  • Increases in insect pests and in the prevalence of diseases transmitted by food, water, and insects

A wide variety of solutions are available today to meet the proposed standards, including more efficient use of existing electricity resources, electricity powered by the wind and the sun, highly efficient natural gas plants, and coal plants that permanently capture and store carbon pollution. EPA’s proposed standards do not mandate technologies to meet the standards, and a broad range of energy sources may comply.

States, communities and businesses across America are already leading the way. Twenty-nine states have adopted policies to expand reliance on cost-effective clean energy resources, and states including Washington, Montana, Oregon, Minnesota, New York and California have adopted (or are now putting in place) limits on dangerous [PDF] carbon pollution from new fossil-fueled power plants.

More than one million Americans have already submitted comments to EPA supporting the new carbon pollution standards. EPA is accepting comments on the proposed standards until June 25; you can submit a comment through EDF’s website.

Our website also has more about the importance of the new standards [PDF] and see more about the effects of climate change.

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