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Baltimore Becomes 54th U.S. City Urging Obama to Use Clean Air Act to Stave Off Climate Crisis
BALTIMORE - April 10 - Baltimore has become the 54th U.S. city to pass a resolution urging President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move swiftly to make full use of the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon pollution and combat climate change. Baltimore’s City Council approved its resolution on Monday, joining the Center for Biological Diversity’s Clean Air Cities campaign. The decision comes as an April 13 deadline approaches for the Obama administration to issue a key Clean Air Act rule aimed at cutting greenhouse gas pollution from new power plants.
“The bad news is that Baltimore will be hit hard by climate change. We face sea-level rise, epic heat waves and a never-ending threat of extreme weather events,” said Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke, who introduced the resolution. “The good news is that we have the Clean Air Act, and if it’s employed swiftly and ambitiously, we can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas pollution and some of the worst impacts of climate change.”
“Baltimore residents are all too familiar with heat waves and unhealthy air quality already,” said Rose Braz, the Center’s climate campaign director. “These cities are looking to the president and his EPA to fully deploy the Clean Air Act against the greenhouse gas pollution that will make these public health problems dramatically worse.”
The Baltimore region is expected to see a substantial increase in extreme heat days in coming decades. Residents will also face growing health risks from flooding, infectious diseases and poor air quality.
Hurricane Sandy has also drawn renewed attention to extreme weather concerns. Global warming is increasing America’s risk of damage from superstorms, according to the recently released draft National Climate Assessment. Hotter ocean temperatures add more energy to storms, while warmer air holds more moisture, causing storms to dump more rainfall. Storm surges are rising on top of higher sea levels, so more coastline floods during storms. Sea levels are rising 60 percent faster than expected, according to a study published recently in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
The EPA must finalize a carbon pollution rule for new power plants by April 13, but some Washington insiders say the agency is likely to miss that deadline — and may be considering weakening the rule because of pressure from big polluters.
Meanwhile atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose by a near-record amount last year, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration recently announced. Recent research has also raised fresh concerns about the dangers of climate change. Among the most disturbing findings are:
- The risk of devastating superstorms is rising because the rapid disappearance of Arctic summer sea ice is changing the jet stream and other atmospheric phenomena, according to Cornell and Rutgers researchers writing in the March issue of Oceanography.
- The frequency of extreme storm surges is expected to increase by as much as 10 times in the next few decades because of climate change, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Climate change is already delivering periods of extreme heat that last longer than any living American has experienced and will warm our country by 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, according to the recently released draft National Climate Assessment.
The Center’s Clean Air Cities campaign is working around the country to encourage cities to pass resolutions supporting the Clean Air Act and using the Act to reduce carbon in our atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million, the level scientists say is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Similar resolutions have been approved in Albany and Ithaca, N.Y.; Berkeley, Santa Monica, Culver City, Arcata, Oxnard, Santa Cruz, Richmond, San Francisco, San Leandro, West Hollywood and Los Angeles, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New Hope Borough, Pa.; Tucson, Ariz.; Boone, N.C.; Keene, N.H.; Portland, Maine; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Milwaukee and Madison, Wis.; Cambridge and Northampton, Mass.; Cincinnati and Oberlin, Ohio; Santa Fe, N.M.; Kansas City, Mo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Miami, Broward County, Pinecrest, Tampa and Gulfport, Fla.; Chicago, Ill.; Teton County, Wyo.; Eugene, Ore.; Nashville, Tenn.; Kauai, Hawaii; Boulder, Colo.; Burlington, Vt.; Detroit, Mich.; Wilmington, Del.; Providence, R.I.; Gary, Ind.; Woodbridge, N.J; and Washington, D.C. Several other cities around the country will be considering resolutions over the next few months.