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Congressional Champions Support Clean Power Plan

15 Aug 2014  |   Olivia Noble

Tags: Congress

Late last month, hearings were held in four cities across the country on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan. A number of environmental champions in Congress talked about the importance of this plan, which would cut carbon pollution from existing power plants – our nation’s single biggest polluters - by 30 percent, protect public health and help fight climate change.  

Supporters rally for hearings on the Clean Power Plan

During the hearings, scientists, public health experts, members of Congress and concerned citizens spoke out in favor of the EPA’s proposed plan. In fact, supporters outnumbered opponents of the plan in each hearing by an overwhelming margin, as high as 8-1 in DC. The message is clear -- Americans favor the EPA’s plan.  

Four Senators and two Representatives who are strong supporters of action on climate change testified at the hearing in Washington, DC: Senators Ed Markey, Bernie Sanders, Ben Cardin, and Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Anna Eshoo and Linda Sánchez.  Each discussed the harmful effects of climate change on our environment and on our health, and the costs of inaction.

Members of the Senate Climate Action Task Force spoke out too, with Senators Barbara Boxer, Sanders, Cardin, and Chris Murphy holding a press conference supporting the EPA’s plan. As Chairman Boxer put it, “The proposal will not only protect our health and our lives, it will enable America to lead the way to avert the most calamitous impacts of climate change.” We couldn’t agree more.

Senate Allies Highlight the Costs of Inaction

That same week, Senator Patty Murray held a hearing in the Budget Committee calling attention to the costs associated with climate change. While some claim that we can’t afford to cut carbon pollution from the power sector, Senator Murray knows that the real cost we can’t bear is inaction.  The costs of droughts, wildfires, and other extreme weather events mount as they become more common and more severe. As she said, “This is not just an environmental issue.  Climate change will have serious ramifications for our economy and the federal budget.”

Environmental allies like Senators Chris Coons, Angus King, and Sheldon Whitehouse all joined her in highlighting the costs of inaction at the hearing and pressing for action on climate change.

EPA Plan Comes Under Attack in the House

Following the EPA hearings, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing to slam the EPA’s plan. Luckily, however, the EPA had more than a few strong allies in the room, including Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, Donna Edwards, Frederica Wilson, Suzanne Bonamici, Joe Kennedy, and Elizabeth Esty.

They fought back against the attacks, highlighting how the plan is good for our environment and our economy. Representative Johnson said, “I firmly believe we can have a vibrant economy and a safe and healthy environment.  The Clean Power Plan puts us on the path to achieving both.”

Ending the Climate Change “Debate” in Congress

Finally, while the science of climate change is settled, it seems like Congress is one of the few remaining places where there is still a “debate” on the issue. Let’s face it—climate change is real, humans are causing it, and it will only continue to get worse if we fail to reduce carbon pollution soon. Too often, these debates derail serious attempts to take action. Before the August recess, Senator Amy Klobuchar – along with Senators Boxer and Whitehouse - worked to change that, introducing a resolution that would simply acknowledge that climate change is happening.  

“We can’t afford to sit around here debating whether climate change is real,” she said.  Unfortunately, this common sense measure was blocked by climate change denier Senator Jim Inhofe, who has called climate change the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against the American people. 

Environmental champions are continuing to push back against the polluters’ spin on climate change and support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  Check out our National Environmental Scorecard to see how your members of Congress are voting on climate change and other important environmental issues. 

(Photograph taken by Matt Churchill)

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