Only days remain to urge the EPA to strengthen its carbon pollution standard — the first ever rule to regulate the global warming pollution that is freely spewed by power plants.
With the catastrophic impacts of climate change coming faster and faster all the time, nothing could be more important then cutting back on this pollution.
Unfortunately, the EPA’s new standard — while symbolically important — actually does nothing to reduce current, existing pollution sources, only placing some limits on future sources.1
We need more from the EPA. And we need it now.
The new rule applies only to future coal plants, which were already unlikely to be built, due to the rising cost of coal, the low price of natural gas, and the tireless work of activists around the country fighting coal’s toxic pollution. The rule does nothing to reduce carbon pollution from natural gas plants, which due to the potent greenhouse gas methane released in the process of fracking for natural gas, may be as or more polluting than coal.2
The EPA must immediately act to place limits on existing sources of carbon pollution. But while EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is to be commended for her leadership on this rule, it appears a begrudging White House and the Tea Party Republican majority in Congress have succeeded in tying her hands.
Announcing the carbon standard back in March, Administrator Jackson literally said in a press conference, “we have no plans to regulate existing sources.”3
Climate change is on the verge of spiraling out of control. If the EPA doesn’t have any plans to limit existing sources of pollution, they need to make some! And fast.
It’s sad that our political climate has been made so toxic by climate change denying Republicans — who literally voted to deny the science of climate change4 — that the very acknowledgement of the need to regulate carbon pollution by EPA is a victory and a positive step forward.
But with escalating extreme weather like floods and wildfires, an arctic that is melting faster than anyone predicted, increasing acidification of the ocean, crop failures, species devastation, a litany of other impacts, and scientists now saying we are at or near a climate change tipping point,5 this rule is simply not enough.
1. “Why EPA’s new carbon rules may not have much impact — for now,” Washington Post, March 27, 2012
2. “ Gas from ‘fracking’ could be twice as bad as coal for climate: study,” Raw Story, April 11, 2011
3. “What’s the deal with EPA carbon rules for existing power plants?” Grist, March 27, 2012
4. “GOP-led House rejects science, 240-184,” Climate Progress, April 6, 2011
5. “Scientists Uncover Evidence Of Impending Tipping Point For Earth,” June 10, 2012