On October 23rd, Harriet Shugarman spoke at the Region 2, Environmental Protection Agency’s Listening Session in New York City. Harriet was one of 41 speakers who spoke strongly in favor of the need to stop global warming pollution.
Here is the statement Harriet delivered to the EPA:
Hello, my name is Harriet, I live in Bergen County, New Jersey where my husband and I are raising our two teens, Elliot and Alana. I wear many hats, chair of my town’s environmental commission and Executive Director of ClimateMama, with thousands of parent members around the country.
But today I am here, wearing the hat I put on 15 years ago, and never take off.
I am speaking as a mother who is desperately concerned for my children’s future and their NOW which is threatened by climate change. You, as representatives of the EPA, have a unique opportunity to have a huge, direct positive impact on my children’s future, by creating strong carbon pollution standards for new power plants.
Just shy of one year ago, on October 29th, 2012, my community in New Jersey was hit hard by hurricane Sandy. Many people in our town were without power for more then 10 days, trees that have stood majestic and strong, on guard for decades became something to fear, as they toppled around us. We were lucky, our home wasn’t seriously damaged and our power came on quickly. We had many friends, family and neighbors who weren’t so lucky and who sought refuge and shelter in our home. For the past two years, children in my community have had Halloween officially “cancelled” because of extreme weather events. While, inconsequential compared to the real impacts of Sandy, many young children are wondering if this year they will get to experience a Halloween. This is a part of their childhood experiences which has been taken away from them because of extreme weather. I know that climate change didn’t cause hurricane Sandy, but it did create the conditions, rising sea levels and warmer oceans, that turned Sandy from a storm, to a “super storm’ in our area.
These climate impacts, will only get worse over time. Health impacts from climate change are directly hurting my family.
My son has developed asthma this past year. Both my husband and son have severe poison ivy allergies. My daughter has breathing problems, exacerbated by heat extremes. A dear friend on Long Island was stricken with West Nile virus recently, and her daughter, sickened by lyme disease. Last week, the World Health Organization told us that air pollution is a carcinogen, and that power plants are one of THE major contributors to air pollution today. My husband is an oncologist, he is busy enough already. How many more scientific studies and major reports do we need to see, which continue to confirm with 95% or greater certainty that we humans are causing our climate to change, before we take action? We know that burning fossil fuels is a key reason our climate is changing, and cutting carbon pollution is critical to allow our planet to begin to heal.
The September report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has given us a carbon budget, which, if we continue on our current path, we cannot meet. While our government has only recently reopened because of budget “wars” our carbon budget remains a battle that our government doesn’t seem to want to recognize or confront. Yet, for my children and their future, this is a budget that is infinitely more important, and hugely more costly, then the current fiscal crisis.
The EPA has an obligation to our children, to their future and to their now. Limiting carbon pollution from new power plants is key, but so is putting a stop to carbon pollution from existing power plants. Old, inefficient, polluting power plants aren’t something that can be “grandfathered” in as they are a serious contributor to the cost of carbon which we can no longer ignore, nor afford to pay. We need to recognize and acknowledge the true cost of carbon pollution, which is a huge economic burden on our country. The cost of carbon and it’s impact on our children’s lives is a social, economic, and moral cost, that we are passing on to them; a debt we could begin to pay down now. By not addressing the cost of carbon, we are very possibly creating a future for our children which will not be a viable or easily livable one. YOU, ladies and gentleman of the EPA, have the power to change the crash course we are on with our planet. I implore you to stand up to the negative and powerful forces trying to make you back down and ignore the realities of our climate crisis. Please, carry out your stated mission, to protect human health and the environment, and propose a strong carbon pollution standard for existing power plants. Our future, and the future of my children, depends on it!
Photo: Sue Barr