EPA protest

Protesters march in an April 4, 2023 demonstration in Washington, D.C. demanding the EPA stop delaying new power plant rules.

(Photo: Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

'Our Lungs and Planet Can't Wait': Protesters Demand EPA Pass New Power Plant Rules

"For the sake of good health, justice, and the climate, we need action now from the EPA," said one organizer of the Washington, D.C. rally.

Activists from a coalition of over 150 environmental justice groups rallied and marched in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to demand that the Biden administration "quit delaying rules to curb harmful pollution that kills thousands of Americans every year."

At the noon "EPA Stop Smoking" rally outside U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, the demonstrators—who represented groups as diverse as 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Interfaith Power & Light, and Hip Hop Caucus—had one resounding message: "Deliver power plant rules now."

"For the sake of good health, justice, and the climate, we need action now from the EPA," said Quentin Scott, federal policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network—a coalition member and lead rally organizer. "Any further delays by the agency will put lives in danger and create the risk of a future hostile administration arriving in time to reverse everything."

"We're gratified that EPA has been listening over the past few months, since we started this campaign," Scott added. "We're here today with our allies to urge the EPA to build on recent momentum and break the bad habit of delaying industry pollution rules."

According to a March report from coalition member Evergreen Collaborative, "the White House's latest Unified Regulatory Agenda shows that EPA is falling behind on eight key climate change and air quality regulations for the power sector, with only two rules on track."

"After several delays and missed deadlines, EPA must go further, faster to finalize these rules during President [Joe] Biden's first term and keep our climate and environmental justice targets within sight," the report argues.

The coalition is demanding that the EPA:

  • End the delays and release carbon standards for power plants in April, as promised;
  • Strengthen the soot standard for power plants;
  • Update and expedite mercury and air toxics standards;
  • Take action on coal ash;
  • Approve California's vehicle emissions waiver; and
  • Implement cumulative impact analysis in permitting.

"The EPA has a legal and moral responsibility to ensure our air and water is clean, which requires protecting frontline communities from the adverse health impacts and toxic pollution from coal and gas plants," Hip Hop Caucus climate policy director Russell Armstrong said.

"The Biden administration claimed to make environmental justice and climate action top priorities yet has repeatedly failed to deliver on its own self-imposed deadlines," he added. "EPA finalizing these power plant rules is a vital step in fulfilling campaign promises to help vulnerable Americans and set our nation on the path to a cleaner, greener, and more equitable future."

Lois Wessel of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, one of the coalition groups, said: "Over 100,000 Americans die of air pollution every year. EPA's habit of delaying rules for dirty energy power plants means that those plants are continuing business as usual—so people are getting sick, especially in poor communities, and the planet keeps warming."

"EPA was scheduled to release their carbon pollution rules in June 2022 and then in March 2023 but they punted both times," Wessel added. "Now the EPA needs to fulfill that promise and issue those rules before the end of April. Our lungs and planet can't wait!"

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