The EPA is holding 11 public listening sessions across the country to solicit ideas and input from the public and stakeholders about the best Clean Air Act approaches to reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants. The Clean Air Act gives both EPA and states a role in reducing air pollution from power plants that are already in operation. The law directs EPA to establish guidelines, which states use to design their own programs to reduce emissions. Before proposing guidelines, EPA must consider how power plants with a variety of different configurations would be able to reduce carbon pollution in a cost-effective way. The feedback from these public listening sessions will play an important role in helping EPA develop smart, cost-effective guidelines that reflect the latest and best information available.
Here is the moving testimony from Anna Grossman, the founder and director of the Hudson River Park Mothers Group:
Good morning and thank you for the opportunity. My name is Anna Grossman and I am here representing my children: Julian and Ella. Last month my almost 10 year old son started 4th grade. One of the first exercises his teacher had the class do was to create a list of historical events the children thought had occurred in the past ten years. The class came up with 19 events. One of them, of course, was that they were born. Out of the remaining 18 events, 5 were extreme weather events. No single type of historical event on their list received more mentions than the extreme weather catastrophes the class had experienced themselves, or simply been touched by through news reports.
When I was ten, if my 4th grade teacher had asked the same question of my class, I don’t think any event listed would have been related to extreme weather or climate change. The world our children have inherited is one that could keep any parent up at night. Last year our family spent over a week without electricity, heat, or water in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Our streets and basements flooded with an unlikely mixture of water and sewage. We witnessed first hand the effect of extreme weather. We did what we could to help the elderly and to help folks repair their damaged homes. It’s hard for me to explain to myself why my 4 year old daughter had her first episode of Asthma this year, when we have absolutely no family history of it.
The World Health Organization has declared air pollution a human carcinogen and a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. And this year my 66 year old mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s hard to accept that. It’s hard to answer my son when he asks me why we still have a nuclear plant 30 miles north of us, when he knows what happened at Fukushima and Chernobyl. When we know about the thousands, if not millions, of illnesses and deaths caused by these two incidents. And it’s impossible for me to explain to my children why many of the toxic chemicals that I make sure to keep them safe from, are allowed to be injected, without prior disclosure, in to their earth by Natural Gas Companies, posing an unacceptable risk to our water supplies and our air.
I cannot explain to my children why our country is actively pursuing natural gas extraction when this is yet another form of dirty fossil fuel energy that threatens their water, air, and food. I cannot explain to them why there are exemptions for hydraulic fracturing in the safe drinking water, clean air and clean water acts. As a mother, it’s hard for me to explain to my children why our government, and the generations before them, have not been more proactive about transitioning from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. That we’ve surpassed 350 parts per million of CO2. What now ? Is it too late? My children ask. I don’t have an answer. Help me give my children an answer. Help me make a promise to them that the EPA has got their back and that things can get better. That it’s not too late.
When my son heard Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University speak about his plan for 100% renewables by 2030, I saw the joy of hope and promise in my child’s eyes. Fossil fuel burning power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution and as such, I am here because I strongly support the EPA’s proposal to limit industrial carbon pollution from power plants. To oppose these limits in any way would be unconscionable. I am here on my children’s behalf to urge the EPA, and our government, to place stronger limits to reduce carbon pollution, and to implore you to move swiftly, and urgently away from fossil fuels. Make coal, oil, nuclear energy, and hydraulic fracturing a thing of the past, and give my children back their basic human right to clean air, clean water, and uncontaminated food. Thank you.
Anna Grossman is a mother of two young children residing in the Lower Manhattan portion of New York City. Her professional background includes several years working as a photo-journalist for news media as well as for various UN agencies. She has traveled worldwide on assignments related to social, environmental and economic issues photographing and attending UN conferences such as the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995, and was the official photographer for Habitat II, the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements in 1996.
Her work has been published in magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler and has graced the cover of Time Magazine. Anna is also the founder and director of the Hudson River Park Mothers Group, an organization dedicated to providing support and resources to mothers in Lower Manhattan through a peer to peer support network, an informative website, and educational and social events. In her spare time, Anna attends grassroots events and testifies at public hearings on issues related to chemical legislation reform, sustainable energy, and children’s health.