An Environmental Justice community response to the EPA Clean Power Plan
You may have never heard about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan, but it will affect you. Please read on and then join us.
The Clean Power Plan belongs to the people
We are a grassroots movement creating community-driven solutions to the ecological and economic crisis: Our Power Campaign.
We are part of an overlooked force in environmental activism. A mass movement of people born and raised in “frontline communities” hardest-hit by pollution, climate and economic disruption. We are Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and working white families leading the Climate Justice Alliance across the United States and Tribal Lands.
One strategy in Our Power Campaign is to work with state officials to scrub dirty “dig-burn-dump” energy from our economy and our ecosystems. We are using the Our Power Plan—our take on the Clean Power Plan—as leverage.
Our Power Plan points out what in the Clean Power Plan does and doesn’t actually protect frontline families disproportionately affected by power plant emissions. We say “no” to carbon trading, “no” to pretending that clean energy includes natural gas, biomass incineration, and uranium mining for nuclear power. And we say “yes” to focusing on real renewables like wind and solar. “Yes” to fully funding the Clean Energy Incentive Program and extending it to frontline communities in the ways that make sense for them. “Yes” to meaningful and sustained engagement with frontline communities throughout the Clean Power Plan implementation process.
The Clean Power what?
On August 3rd, 2015 the United States committed to reducing carbon dioxide pollution from power plants for the first time in history. Thanks to the EPA Clean Power Plan, every state must now find a way to make sure the country drops CO2 emissions from existing power plants 32% from 2005 levels by the year 2030.
But before the ink was dry in the Federal Register, 24 states had filed a lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan. They contested the EPA’s right to regulate these carbon emissions from power plants.
Apparently without irony, litigant West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey claimed the Clean Power Plan would have “devastating impacts upon the states and their citizens.” Most of the 24 states opposing the Clean Power Plan are economically and politically dominated by industries that rely heavily on coal, gas, oil and other dirty extracted fuels. No one is surprised by that.
Seven months later, on February 8th, 2016 the Supreme Court issued a stay preventing the EPA from enforcing implementation of Clean Power Plan until the legal challenges to the rule are resolved. The four liberal justices dissented. In response, fourteen states issued a statement of support for the Clean Power Plan. Several states announced they would be proceeding with their implementation plans anyway.
Does it matter if power plants start reducing carbon dioxide emissions now or in two years? We say it does, and we praise the state leadership that has decided to move ahead.
Does it matter if the Clean Power Plan is perfect? Isn’t it “good enough” as is? We say it is not. Read on to find out why.
Our Power Plan
The Our Power Plan is the Climate Justice Alliance’s challenge to the Obama Administration’s EPA Clean Power Plan to do better. It demands that provisions to protect frontline, low-income, indigenous, and communities of color be strengthened. Here’s how:
- Uranium mining and nuclear power, natural gas extraction and burning, and biomass waste incineration are not clean energy strategies. Over the life-cycle from extraction to burning and disposal, they’re even dirtier than coal. Nuclear, gas, and biomass must not be given privileged status in the Clean Power Plan implementation process or we’ll end up right back where we started: dying from pollution and climate disruption.
- Carbon trading is not any kind of solution to climate disruption and pollution. Encouraging states to trade carbon emissions like a game of musical chairs will continue to leave out struggling families already living with dirty energy in their backyards and schoolyards. Wealthier communities will build beautiful solar and wind energy economies. Communities of color, indigenous people on tribal lands, and working families in low-income areas will keep the gas fracking, coal plants, and leaking nuclear facilities that are allowed to remain when the trading game is done.
- Instead, let’s do this right and invest our considerable resources and ingenuity in energy efficiency, real renewables like wind and solar. If we want a real economic recovery, we must put frontline and low-income communities at the front of the line to ensure they directly benefit from—and control—investments and employment in renewable energy and conservation.
This is where you come in
While this political and legislative wrangling kicks up dust inside the Beltway, we urge all state officials to implement the Clean Power Plan without delay.
We support the EPA’s right to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.
We need climate action now. There is no more time to waste.
We are determined to lift up the Our Power Plan because it represents a community-driven response to the Clean Power Plan. Our Power Plan contains solutions that will protect everyone, especially frontline communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate disruption.
And we invite everyone living in frontline communities to join a Climate Justice Alliance member near you to get our voices heard.