Moms Clean Air Force joined a busload of Hoosier Sierra Club folks who testified at the EPA listening session on carbon pollution standards for existing coal-fired power plants in Chicago last Friday. It was so satisfying to tell EPA officials about how air pollution from coal plants affects Indiana — and to express my deep concern about the future if we don’t regulate CO2.
Here’s what I told EPA:
Good afternoon. My name is Wendy Bredhold and I am here on behalf of my two-year-old daughter, Beatrice Rose, and the community where we live, Evansville, Indiana, within 62 miles of 17 coal-fired power plants – including some of the largest and worst-polluting plants in North America.
Beatrice was born at the height of summer, when air quality is typically at its worst. We brought her home on a day when the air was unhealthy for “sensitive groups,” a category that includes the very young, the very old, the sick, and anyone who is active or works outdoors. In effect: everyone. But everyone has a right to breathe clean air. We should not be trapped in our homes because of air pollution.
If Beatrice doesn’t develop asthma and join the area children who attend Camp Nota-Gonna-Wheeze in the summer, effects to her health may not be immediately evident. But we know air pollution from coal plants causes cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illness, and that hospitalizations increase on air quality alert days. All the parents in my circle know these things, but we push them to the back of our minds, not willing to give up homes, jobs, extended family and friends.
I could not come before you today without addressing how coal-fired power plants impact my community, but we are here to talk about carbon emissions, and these plants are also the largest single source of global warming pollution, a threat to all life on our planet.
Because I am here on my daughter’s behalf, I speak today in defense of the creatures she loves. Scientists predict that global warming will cause mass extinctions in the near future.
Beatrice loves birds, insects, and animals of all sorts. I’m so proud of her; she can already identify countless creatures. She is as fascinated by the tiniest snail as she is by the exotic animals she knows from books.
But I don’t feel confident that the world I’m teaching her about is the world that she’ll grow up to live in. Will the Monarch butterflies return every year? Will hummingbirds and herons be a distant childhood memory?
Will there be penguins, polar bears, and reindeer? Or will they be as extinct as the dinosaurs?
Her sense of wonder at the world is boundless, but she has no idea how fragile it is – and how threatened. If she grows up to be a zoologist or a wildlife biologist, at the rate we’re going she may only be able to document the disappearance of species after species.
A world without these creatures is a diminished world. Is that a world we want to pass along to future generations? Don’t our children deserve to inherit the same planet we grew up on?
Please take action and regulate carbon emissions. Protect our communities and the world we love. Thank you for listening.
Now it’s your turn.