Let’s not greenwash: “Cleaner Power” would get it right

EPA hearings on the (finally!) proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants took place in the last week of July.  Remarks by PA IPL supporters vary enormously, and are worth reading.  They’re published alongside PA IPL’s remarks. When you’re inspired, submit a written comment of your own.  

dennis groceMy name is Dennis W. Groce. I live in the town of North East, Pennsylvania, which is near Erie. I worship at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in North East, where I help our congregation and others in our responses to environmental concerns that face all of us every day. With only a few exceptions, I support the EPA proposal to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants. My support is motivated by the call heard in my faith tradition, the Bible’s account in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, as calling us to do the very best we can to preserve and protect everything in a wise manner. While that is easy to say, it’s often difficult to do. Many of those commenting on the EPA proposal are concerned about the effect these rules could have on employment and the economy. I am concerned about that too. I don’t see it as a “one or the other” proposition, however. We certainly should take steps to reduce the impact of any job losses that occur. However, our country is strong enough and creative enough to find ways of reducing our production of climate changing carbon, while still addressing the economic dislocations that can result. We must find those ways, rather than splitting apart along ideological or economic lines that insist on one way to the exclusion of others.

My wife and I live on the edge of Lake Erie. We watch the lake every day. We frequently walk the beach or kayak in the lake. We are awed by the size, beauty, and power of the lake. The entire system of the Great Lakes is one of the world’s largest sources of fresh water that must be protected. We are concerned about the effect on Lake Erie of warming temperatures that will inevitably result from the release of carbon into the air. Warmer, shorter winters are known to affect the ecology of the lake. Perch and walleye are cool water species of fish and have been shown to decrease in numbers and viability after the warmer, shorter winters. Those species will be reduced in number as result of climate change. Aside from the ecological impact, this will take a toll on the recreational and commercial fishing on Lake Erie and other bodies of water. The recreational fishing alone is a tremendous part of the economy in our area.

The warmer waters produce a cascade of changes in the Lake Erie ecology. As nutrients such as fertilizer wash into the warmer lake, algae growth is enhanced. When the algae ultimately dies and decays in the lake, the oxygen in the water can be depleted, further endangering fish and other organisms. My wife and I have observed the increased algae growth in the eight years we have lived on the shore of Lake Erie. Aside from our personal observations, we know that climate change has already taken its toll on the earth and its inhabitants. Droughts, intense storms, rising sea level, decreased food supplies, and increased disease all are a part of what we see unfolding. While I support the proposed rule in general, I actually prefer that EPA strengthen the proposal before finalizing it. The Union of Concerned Scientists has released a study indicating that combining more aggressive power plant standards with strong renewable and efficiency policies could cut power sector carbon emissions by 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2020 and by more than 50 percent by 2030. This would put the U.S. in a position to lead the world, rather than almost catching up. I ask that the EPA adopt those measures to allow those more significant reductions in carbon emissions. Finally, I object to the title EPA has associated with this proposal. “Clean Power Plan” conveys the sense of absolute clean power. There is no such thing, and this proposal is certainly not achieving “clean power”. Use of that term amounts to “greenwashing” for its appeal to environmentalists. Therefore, I request the name be changed to “Cleaner Power”.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

The EPA hearings on the (finally) proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants took place the last week in July in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Denver.  PA IPL members offered testimony both in Pittsburgh and Washington.  Testimony posted here is shared by permission of the authors.  Remarks by PA IPL supporters are published on this blog alongside PA IPL’s official remarks. When you’re inspired, submit a written comment of your own.