This week, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) had this to say about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants:
“You talk about terrorism — you can do it in a lot of different ways.”1
Here’s a good rule of thumb in political debate: when someone invokes terrorism out of the blue, you know they’ve lost the argument.
Because the environmental movement has it right — pollution from coal-fired power plants kills communities and cooks our climate. That’s why the EPA’s long-overdue carbon standards, announced last month, are so important.
This new rule is a welcome step, but we need more. Tell the EPA to strengthen its limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
We already limit arsenic, mercury, soot and other air pollution from power plants—but, until now, not carbon pollution. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential step to address global warming and here at RAN we absolutely support a national carbon pollution standard.
No matter what the fossil fuel industry-funded politicians like Mike Kelly may say, communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.
This is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, have spent years fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.
The EPA is now accepting public comments on its proposed rule. Write the EPA today—say we need a stronger rule for a stable climate!
To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.
The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.
We know that the coal industry and the politicians it funds will work to undermine this rule and doom communities to years of future pollution.
Together, we can meet our obligation to protect our climate for our children and future generations.
1. “Congressman Compares EPA’s New Climate Rule To Terrorism”, ThinkProgress, July 28, 2014.
This month, Rainforest Action Network and three allies testified at Bank of America's annual shareholder meeting, urging them to drop coal, to stop profiting from environmental destruction and human rights abuses. We're posting the statements of our three allies. Add your voice by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change.
My name is Kemp Burdette. I am the Cape Fear Riverkeeper. I was born and raised along the Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina.
I want to describe to you the impacts that coal is having on the Cape Fear River, because Bank of America's financing of the coal industry, and specifically Duke Energy, is supporting the contamination of groundwater, the fouling of rivers, and the poisoning of drinking water supplies for nearly a million people in the Cape Fear watershed alone. Across North Carolina, the problem is even worse.
I’m sure you've heard about the Dan River coal ash spill.
You may not have heard about Duke's other discharge of coal ash waste water into the Cape Fear River. Less than two months ago Duke was caught illegally pumping over 61 million gallons of coal ash wastewater into the Cape Fear River—three times more wastewater than what spilled into the Dan River.
This was done above the drinking water intakes for 840,000 people, and it was done intentionally, although secretly and illegally, with no notification of the public or of state regulators.
In addition to catastrophic failures and illegal discharges, Duke's coal ash ponds have other problems—they leak like sieves into groundwater and surface waters. They leak 24 hours a day, seven days a week at every location across North Carolina.
In New Hanover County, selenium contamination from coal ash is deforming fish in a popular fishing lake.
Duke Energy and the State of North Carolina are currently under a federal investigation for inappropriate conduct and relations between state regulators and the company.
I would urge Bank of America to end its lending and underwriting of companies like Duke Energy. Duke's coal ash ponds will continue to fail. They will continue to leak. They will continue to poison water supplies. They will continue to destroy the environment. Coal is, and will continue to be, very, very risky business.
Stand with Kemp and RAN by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change.
- On June 21st, at a well near Taft, CA, a sinkhole filled with poisonous gas, super-heated steam and hot water opened up beneath a Chevron employee, 54-year-old Robert David Taylor, killing the veteran oilfield worker. Taylor was investigating a “surface expression,” which is what the oil industry calls it when the super-heated steam injected deep underground to loosen up crude oil makes its way to the surface, when another surface expression swallowed him whole and took his life. Despite Taylor’s horrific death, however, Chevron continued its use of steam injection until a major eruption occurred just a few weeks later. It wasn’t Chevron who decided to err on the side of caution, though: California officials were forced to step in and order a stop to Chevron’s use of the dangerous technology at the well, as it turned out that the eruption was actually one of three that have occurred since Taylor’s death.
- Chevron is being fined $24.5 million by the state of California for failing to properly inspect and maintain underground storage tanks at 650 gas stations in 32 counties across the state. Since 1998, Chevron has “violated anti-pollution laws by tampering with or disabling leak-detection devices and failing to test secondary containment systems and conduct monthly inspections.” The company is also accused of “failing to train employees in proper protocols related to the tanks and of not maintaining operational alarm systems or evacuation plans.” Working on drilling operations may be inherently risky, and the workers there may have chosen to accept that risk. But I can't believe workers at Chevron gas stations are okay with the level of risk the company is putting them in.
- A group of hundreds of Nigerian women shut down a Chevron gas-to-liquid project in their community in protest of Chevron breaking a contract it had signed with them. Chevron promised to provide clean water and electricity in exchange for the right to operate in the community, and has so far failed to honor the contract. One of the women, Ms. Edith Odafe, said: “We are in pains. Chevron has failed in its promises to us. We need these basic things of life which they promised us. The contract is far gone and they have not done anything. They are insulting our sensibility as a people.”
Chevron had two oil spills in Salt Lake City last year, and just settled with the city (and state of Utah) to the tune of $4.5 million. That’s $3m for cleanup, $1m to compensate the victims of Chevron’s spill, and a $500,000 civil fine. Many Salt Lake City residents are upset about how low the fine is: Peter Hayes, whose son was hospitalized and whose home was evacuated during Chevron's spill, said the fine provides no deterrent for a company the size of Chevron to continue business as usual. "The object of having fines and punishments is to alter behavior," he said. "This fine will do nothing to change their behavior. It is insufficient."
Another critical failing of the settlement is that it doesn’t provide funds for studying and addressing future impacts to human health as a result of Chevron's oil spills, which doctors are warning could be quite severe. Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, says there is the potential for huge problems now and in the future, warning of a potential “cancer cluster.” “There are medical studies to suggest even brief exposure to oil can have long term consequences like cancer,” he said. In other words, many more SLC residents may experience health problems in the future, and Chevron has managed to evade responsibility for taking care of them.