The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C., Joins National Call for Climate Change Action

Nation’s Capital Urges President to Use Clean Air Act to Cut Carbon Pollution


In the wake of a federal scientific report showing that climate change is driving up the risk of heat waves and extreme weather, the D.C. Council has passed a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to "move as swiftly as possible to implement and enforce the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon in the atmosphere."

The resolution, introduced by council member Mary M. Cheh and passed unanimously, makes Washington the 48th U.S. community to join the Center for Biological Diversity's national Clean Air Cities campaign, which has also drawn support from cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit and Miami, Fla.

"D.C.'s city council deserves a round of applause for urging strong federal action against climate disruption," said Chris Weiss, executive director of the D.C. Environmental Network. "People in our city already struggle with health problems caused by extreme heat and poor air quality. That's why we need the Environmental Protection Agency to fully deploy the Clean Air Act against greenhouse gas pollution, before it's too late to head off climate change's worst effects."

"Leaders in every community President Obama calls home are urging him to make full use of the Clean Air Act to fight climate chaos," said Bill Snape, senior counsel with the Center. "Washington, Chicago and Kauai have joined cities across the country in calling for immediate action to cut carbon pollution. It's time for the Obama administration to act on this urgent threat."

D.C. will be hit hard by climate change. The city experienced the most intense heat wave on record last year, and the Washington region is expected to see a substantial increase in extreme heat days in coming decades. Residents will also confront growing health risks from flooding, infectious diseases and poor air quality. The Potomac River has risen approximately one foot since 1933 and could rise another 24 to 48 inches over the next century, according to a report (PDF) prepared by the mayor's office. Flooding and storm surges will threaten homes, businesses and landmarks like the Jefferson Memorial and could create sewer overflows.

The city also faces increased extreme weather risk. Hurricane Sandy has 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, and 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 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 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., and Woodbridge, N.J. Several other cities around the country will be considering resolutions over the next few months.

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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