As a mom and a West Virginian, I’m thankful to everyone planning to speak out about the importance of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan on Nov. 28 and 29 in Charleston. The EPA will be holding the nation’s only public hearing about its proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan on those days, and I know it’s no accident that they’re holding the hearing in a place where the coal industry still wields significant political power. But that won’t stop community members from voicing their support for the Clean Power Plan and clean energy. Community groups are also hosting a separate Healthy Communities Hearing, to make sure that we’re really heard. Here is my message to EPA:
The Clean Power Plan is literally a life-saver: It would prevent 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 asthma attacks every year by 2030 and would also lower electricity bills by roughly 8 percent -- the list of benefits goes on and on. By cleaning up air pollution and reducing dangerous emissions that threaten our climate, it gives our kids a fighting chance at a safe, sustainable future.
Coal has been a central part of West Virginia’s economy, history and culture for decades, and the irreversible shift to clean energy that’s now underway poses big challenges to our state. But now, with the industry in decline, we’re stuck with what coal has left behind: polluted air, polluted water, dangerous working conditions, scarred landscapes, and a coal industry that wields its money and power without restraint to maintain its profits. The need to diversify our economy and restore our mountains and rivers has never been more urgent.
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That’s another reason why I support the Clean Power Plan. We don’t have to choose between healthy communities and good jobs -- the Clean Power Plan creates a path for both. We can demand healthy communities and a healthy economy, where workers are trained for the good-paying, family sustaining clean energy jobs that are growing all over the country. There is no reason those jobs can’t grow right here -- and the Clean Power Plan offers a path to do just that.
It is my hope that the hearing will provide a safe place where all viewpoints can be heard, not just those Pruitt wants to push forward to justify ending this life-saving standard. Many are concerned that the scheduled hearing in West Virginia has all the markings of a sham, that it only gives a struggling industry a venue to intimidate people. That’s why the Sierra Club and partners throughout the region are working to ensure our voices are heard in Charleston, both at the EPA’s official hearing and at the Hearing for Healthy Communities, where all are invited to have their say about this critical, life-saving standard.
I am confident that voices in support of clean air, clean energy, and a safe climate will ring through the hills and hollows of the Mountain State at EPA’s Clean Power Plan hearing. After all, this is Almost Heaven, and we want it to stay that way.