The EPA held public hearings in four locations for the proposed Clean Power Plan this week. The hearings provided interested parties the opportunity to present data, views or arguments concerning the proposed action. I went to Denver, Colorado to testify at the EPA. This is my testimony :
Good afternoon, my name is Ronnie Citron-Fink. I’ve traveled from New York to speak as a parent, a teacher, and a representative of Moms Clean Air Force; a community of hundreds of thousands of parents who believe the biggest stakeholders in the Clean Power Plan are our children. Our members know that if we continue to allow carbon to be spewed into the air unchecked, we will be leaving our children an uncertain, unhealthy, and unsafe future.
When we started MCAF over three years ago, I was keenly aware that the Clean Air Act was a major public health success. Like all parents, I felt strongly that I would do anything to protect my family. But I was worried that delving deep into stacks and stacks of reports, regulations, and cost analysis associated childhood asthma, cancer, and infant mortality would leave me glazed over and paralyzed with parental fear.
That didn’t happen. It wasn’t the reports and statistics, or even the insane politics that seem to put profits over people, that stopped me dead in my tracks…it was the stories I heard every single day from parents with infants, toddlers, school kids and teenagers.
It was the stories of moms like Wendy from Indiana, who can’t let her two-year old go out to play because she lives within a 62-mile radius of 17 coal-fired power plants. Her neighbors’ kids have asthma and she doesn’t want her baby to become another statistic.
I joined Wendy when she visited her senator in Washington to ask if he would support common sense standards to limit pollution from his state’s power plants. She asked if he cared that unlimited pollution was poisoning the citizens of his state?
Wendy was told, “Make no mistake, the Senator cares about “coal-factory” employees and their families.”
She turned to me in tears and said, “This must be a mistake. Doesn’t he have a moral obligation to protect his states’ children? Does this man have children, grandchildren?” He does.
Not only does unregulated carbon intensive coal poison the air our families breathe, there’s a clear consensus among scientists that carbon pollution from fossil fuels is the single largest contributing factor to climate change — warming our planet, contributing to extreme weather events and harming the most vulnerable citizens — our children.
Climate change is making asthma triggers worse. Extreme heat is hard on little bodies. And the soot and smog pollution that global warming exacerbates damages developing lungs and increases respiratory infections.
My heart breaks when I listen to parents like Wendy, living in communities that deal daily with the health effects of burning unregulated fossil fuels.
Now we have the opportunity to right this wrong and avoid dirty mistakes.
Coal is no longer the answer to power our children’s future. To further its use is a big mistake. We can stop poisoning people and our planet with ancient, filthy power without being left in the dark. Now is the time to begin to shift to clean, renewable energy sources that save money, employ Americans and most importantly, protect the health of our precious children.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is an important first step in addressing climate change and its health impacts. Moms Clean Air Force asks that the EPA strengthen the Clean Power Plan and finalize this rule that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2020.
Let’s set an example by letting the rest of the world know that we value what is most important, our families. And make no mistake…our children are watching.
PLEASE NOTE: People also can comment on the proposal online or by email, fax or letter HERE. EPA considers all comments equally, no matter how they are submitted. The comment period on the proposal is open until October 16, 2014.