Statement as issued Monday by the Sierra Club:
INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosier faith leaders and health advocates today applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for issuing a proposal for the first-ever national protections from dangerous carbon pollution from existing power plants. These new standards, which are part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, will clean up the industries that create the lion’s share of carbon pollution in our country. The new protections will also help reduce other life-threatening air pollution including mercury, soot, and smog.
“We need these new standards for limiting carbon pollution from power plants to lessen deadly impacts on human health and costly damage to our crops and water sources. As a physician and public health professional, I’m reminded daily of the growing threats to Hoosiers’ heart and lung health and risks of lung cancer from air pollutants. Our medical and environmental scientists have shown us the problems, and recommended viable solutions. Now it’s time we act to ensure a safe and healthy future for our young people,” Dr. Steve Jay, M.D., an Indianapolis physician who specializes in the treatment of lung and respiratory disease.
“Indiana is part of a world that I love, and that God loves. What makes climate change the most pressing matter of our day is that we – the people now living on planet Earth – will determine by our action or inaction the future of God’s good creation and every living thing on it. We must resolve as a state and nation to move with all deliberate speed away from those practices that degrade the viability of God’s good gifts,” said Lyle McKee, pastor of St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Bloomington and chair of Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light.
Carbon pollution causes climate disruption and is already costing American communities billions of dollars from flooding, super-storms, wildfires, and extreme heat. The Midwest has been hard-hit by the impacts of climate disruption like droughts, floods and Lake Michigan water levels at historic lows. In 2012, Hoosier farmers lost millions in crops due to severe droughts and residents in Kokomo battled the worst flood on record in 2013. Climate disruption has cost the State of Indiana nearly $2 billion in federal disaster aid in 2011 and 2012 to cover the costs of extreme weather events, according a report conducted by the Center for American Progress.
Last month, a national committee of experts in agriculture, climate science, commerce and disaster relief released the National Climate Assessment (NCA) at the White House. The report predicts Indiana can expect even more heat waves, more extreme storms and poorer air and water quality in the decades ahead, The rapidly changing climate poses a threat to Indiana crops, our health, our families and our communities, which face increasing costs of =cleaning up climate-related weather disasters. According to the report, in 2011, the Midwest was home to 11 of the 14 most expensive U.S. weather-related disasters (those with damages of more than $1 billion).)
“Strong carbon standards are a necessary part of the fight to stop runaway climate change. I am worried sick for my daughter’s future and the planet she will inherit. Every parent should be,” said Wendy Bredhold, Indiana field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force.
“Under the EPA’s plan, it will be up to each state to find the best way to reduce carbon pollution. We urge our state leaders to put politics aside and develop a common-sense plan built on energy efficiency, clean energy and support for working families and communities. The things we love most about Indiana, our homes and the health of our families are at risk. The time to act is now,” said Steve Francis, chair of the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter.
Seventy-five percent of Hoosiers believe that the government should limit dangerous greenhouse gas emissions created by polluting industries, according to a polling report released in 2013 by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (CA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), co-chairs of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change. The report also showed that at least 79 percent of Hoosiers polled acknowledged the existence of climate disruption, a fact that Indiana can no longer ignore.
Last year, more than 50 Hoosiers traveled to Chicago to join with hundreds of residents from Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin to testify at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional office, calling on officials to enact strong and just standards on carbon pollution from coal and gas-fired power plants. Hoosier parents, community leaders, public health advocates and many more spoke out on the harsh effects of climate disruption in their communities.