The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Chicago Supports Clean Air Act, Joins Urgent Call for Climate-Change Action

Global Warming to Confront City With Up to 1,200 Heat-related Deaths a Year


Chicago has joined more than 20 other U.S. cities in supporting the use of the Clean Air Act to protect air quality and reduce greenhouse gas pollution to head off catastrophic climate change. Through a May 9 resolution, Chicago is the 25th city to join the Center for Biological Diversity's national Clean Air Citiescampaign, which urges national leaders to take action on global warming.

"We need strong air-pollution standards for the sake of our children, our climate and the success of our city. The Clean Air Act is the best way to keep our air clean and safe and reduce global warming hazards," said Proco Joe Moreno, the Chicago alderman who introduced the resolution. "Our leaders in Washington need to know that Chicagoans support clean air and will not stand idly by as big polluters try to dictate the terms of our air quality."

"Chicago's leaders recognize that the Clean Air Act protects our health from dangerous pollutants and can play a key role in heading off a global climate crisis," said Rose Braz, the Center's climate campaign director. "More than two dozen cities around the country, from Seattle to Salt Lake City to Kansas City to Cincinnati to Philadelphia -- and now Chicago -- are sending an urgent message to our national leaders: To avert a climate catastrophe, we need to act now."

If greenhouse gas pollution is not reduced, Chicago will begin to experience much hotter summers that could lead to as many as 1,200 heat-related deaths a year, according to a risk assessment prepared for city planners. The city's average temperature has already increased 2.6 degrees since 1980, and the number of heat-wave days is expected to quadruple by the end of the century if emissions are not curtailed. Respiratory illness rates will also rise, driven by a heat-related increase in ground-level ozone.

The Clean Air Act has protected the air we breathe for four decades. By curbing air pollution, it is directly responsible for dramatically reducing dangerous pollutants such as lead, sulfur dioxide and fine particulates. The Act has saved many thousands of lives, improving health and decreasing hospitalizations, curbing illnesses such as cancer and asthma and reducing lost school and work days.

The Center's Clean Air Cities campaign is working across the country to encourage cities to pass resolutions supporting the Clean Air Act and its ability to reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million, the level scientists say is needed to avoid catastrophic global warming. The resolutions call on President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to take swift action under the Clean Air Act to address climate change.

Similar resolutions have been approved in Cincinnati and Oberlin, Ohio; Seattle, Wash.; Kansas City, Mo.; Albany, N.Y.; Tucson, Ariz.; Boone, N.C.; Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pa.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Tampa and Pinecrest, Fla.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Cambridge, Mass.; Madison and Milwaukee, Wis.; and Arcata, Richmond, Berkeley, Oxnard, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica, Calif. Several other cities around the country will be considering resolutions over the next few months.

Learn more about the Center's Clean Air Citiescampaign and get the facts about the Clean Air Act.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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