Posted on 04-05-2012
EPA takes key step towards a cleaner, healthier future
The Obama Administration and EPA announcement that it will establish the first national limits on carbon pollution from new power plants is great news for anyone that cares about clean air. No longer will new power plants be able to endanger our health with unchecked carbon pollution and the climate change it causes. Itís also good news for Latinos.
Carbon pollution fuels global warming which causes more severe heat waves and worsens smog pollution which in turn triggers more asthma attacks and other serious respiratory illnesses. It also contributes to increasingly extreme weather, including more devastating storms and floods, rising sea levels, and many other threats to life, limb, and property. For Latinos, who often experience these impacts first hand, this rule is a definite step in the right direction.
Last October, along with the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change, the Center for American Progress, and the National Wildlife Federation we published a report, U.S. Latinos and Air Pollution: A Call to Action, which examined the toll that air pollution takes on the health of Latinos across the U.S. Our report found that one out of every two U.S. Latinos live in counties that frequently violate air pollution standards for the primary component of smog--ozone.
Carbon pollution contributes to the rising temperatures that only make smog worse, triggering asthma attacks and permanently damaging and reducing the function of childrenís lungs. Add to this the impacts suffered by Latinos as a result of climate induced drought, wildfires and life-threatening heat waves, and you quickly get a clearer picture as to why this rule is so important to the Hispanic community.
This is why Latino organizations are showing their support for the new carbon rules recognizing that EPA is doing its job under the Clean Air Act -- holding power plants accountable and demanding that new power plants use state-of-the-art technologies to reduce their carbon pollution.
And while this rule applies only to new power plants, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set limits for existing power plants too and EPAís current proposal acknowledges this responsibility.
What will be critical now is that we show our strong support for this proposal and urge EPA to act swiftly to cut the dangerous carbon pollution coming from our existing power plants too.
Many powerful coal and power interests would be happy to see this proposal fail. So we, as Latinos, must add our voices to this call for cleaner power plants. Our communities need clean air to thrive and innovation from new state of the art power plants will provide new opportunities for us to work towards a brighter future.
Adrianna Quintero, Senior Attorney and Director, La Onda Verde de NRDC.