As part of the push to inform the public about how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be moving forward on reducing carbon pollution, administrator Gina McCarthy recently took the stage at the National Press Club in Washington.
In her opening remarks, Administrator McCarthy referenced the President’s speech on climate change and reiterated that the nation’s actions would have a “profound impact on the world we leave behind for our children.”
Since the EPA has consistently been under attack – and, at the time of this posting, it is closed – Administrator McCarthy directed some of her comments to the role of the agency in protecting “public health and the environment.” In a not so veiled nod to those in Congress, she noted, “We have done our job by developing and using the best science available, and being transparent in our decision-making.” The latter was a response to the push back against climate change deniers and the repeated accusations that the EPA has been surreptitious in its actions.
Administrator McCarthy, who doesn’t pull any punches, stated, “Climate change caused by carbon pollution is one of the most significant public threats of our time.” She then proceeded to explain the ramifications of climate change, breaking down its effects into bite size concepts. She defined climate change as being about:
- Water—and why it must be protected
- Heat Waves and Drought—extreme weather causing wildfires, impacting food prices and supply, spreading disease through mosquitoes and ticks
- Clean Air—essential to avoid threats from pulmonary and heart diseases, allergies, and the problem of smog (ground level ozone)
Administrator McCarthy singled out smog for further clarification. She spoke of its impact on the elderly and children. She specifically underscored the environmental justice issue of how children from “lower income and urban communities are being affected by asthma disproportionately (one in ten American children have asthma).”
In presenting the EPA proposal to limit carbon pollution—the single largest source coming from new power plants—McCarthy prefaced her statistics with the observation that the regulations were a “moral obligation to the next generation that must be met.” She then delved into an outline of the proposal:
- New large natural gas-fired plants have to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour
- New small natural gas-fired plants have to meet a limit of 1,110 carbon dioxide per megawatt hour
- New coal plants have to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (Currently the average coal-fired plant emits about 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour)
Administrator McCarthy is being proactive about getting her agenda across through a series of speaking engagements. She appeared at the Clinton Global Initiative, and travel plans include a keynote address at the Michigan Environmental Law and Public Health Conference.
With a shutdown government, it’s time for all of our lawmakers put what is most important at stake and make a “moral obligation to the next generation.”