LCV’s Chispa Defends the Clean Power Plan at Public Hearing

Nov 28, 2017

As the Trump administration takes dangerous steps to repeal the Clean Power Plan—one of our nation’s most important actions to tackle climate change—today, in West Virginia, they held the only scheduled public hearing on their rollback plan.  Betsy Lopez-Wagner, LCV’s Chispa communications director, traveled six hours to coal country, where she shared her own and others’ struggles with dirty air, illuminating the clear need for the Clean Power Plan to remain intact. As Betsy says, “It’s key to safeguarding our communities – safeguarding our lives.” Read Betsy’s testimony below:

A panel from the Environmental Protection Agency listens as LCV’s Betsy Lopez-Wagner testifies in support of the Clean Power Plan. Photo: Matt Roth for LCV

Good morning – My name is Betsy Lopez-Wagner and I was born in Blue Island, Illinois nearly 35 years ago. I reside in Wheaton, Maryland and am here as a concerned human being, wife, mother and on behalf of Chispa, a community organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters, to call for the protection of the Clean Power Plan.

For too many of today’s youth, the notion of a monster under their bed is no longer the most terrifying of their fears – a silent monster lurks in our air, and too many of our children know the real fear of suffocating from filthy, polluted air.

In the words of 9-year-old Shawna-Marie Robinson of Maryland, a young girl struggling with asthma attacks caused by environmental pollution, “not being able to breathe is scary.”

As a mother of vivacious Liam, a soon-to-be 3-year-old, it’s downright terrifying to imagine. And on a personal level, I’ve suffered the effects of harmful emissions in our air, from bronchial spasms to full-blown asthma attacks.  I agree with Shawna-Marie, not being able to breathe is just plain scary.

For all too long corporate polluters and special interest groups have put profits over people, working to block efforts to reduce carbon pollution – using their deep pockets to drown out the voices of those with fewer resources. They have done so on the backs of people like Shawna-Marie and millions of others like her – with disregard for her health, her future, and her ambitions. 

The Clean Power Plan is our commonsense roadmap to sustaining the human race, it’s the policy tool to cut climate change pollution and it’s the key to safeguarding communities – safeguarding lives.

Lowering emissions and utilizing emissions-free energy alternatives is the morally and economically sound thing to do, the right thing to do. President Obama knew what EPA Administrator Scott “Polluting” Pruitt and Donald Trump refuse to acknowledge – the climate crisis exposes families to public health threats like never before, and it comes loaded with financial implications.

Implications an undocumented working mother, Clenia, is facing firsthand as she fights for her Maryland community to replace diesel powered school buses with electric fleets so that others won’t have to experience the degradation of their children’s health.

These are health threats that Arturo Gonzalez, a millennial who suffers from respiratory struggles, faces as he fights with Chispa NV to reduce the air pollution in his Las Vegas community. 

People all across the country like Clenia, Arturo, and Shawna-Marie are calling on the EPA to ensure their air is clean. It’s time to listen to people across this country, 8 million of whom submitted comments supporting the Clean Power Plan, rather than big polluters, whose dirty power plants are making our air unbreathable. 

We must ensure today and every single day moving forward that communities – particularly low income and communities of color – no longer suffer the negative health consequences of this administration’s attacks and inactions on climate change.

Disregarding what it means to live in a healthy community is not acceptable. Protecting our communities means protecting the Clean Power Plan, not rolling it back and weakening it.

The EPA has one job to do – to protect our health and our environment.

LCV’s Sara Jordan and Betsy-Lopez Wagner prepare to give testimony at the EPA hearing on repealing the Clean Power Plan. (Photo Credit: Matt Roth for LCV)