Another Busy EPA Listening Session in DC
Today was the fourth of five Environmental Protection Agency listening sessions on its proposed carbon pollution protections - also known as New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).
We've covered the previous three sessions (details on the first session in DC here and here, and on the session we packed in Atlanta right here), and this session was for coalition representatives to air their concerns about these proposed safeguards. The Sierra Club was there to stand up for Clean Air and have people sign petitions and "I Love Clean Air" cards to send to EPA.
These safeguards are part of the Sierra Club's huge health campaign - check out the website here to learn more.
This listening session featured officials from climate change policy centers, law schools, state environmental agencies, and energy companies. Overall, the speakers were united in their support of EPA's proposed rules, just adding that EPA should not undermine but rather build on the many state-based carbon pollution reduction programs already in place (see the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Western Climate Initiative, etc...).
"Be aggressive and be flexible," said Bill Bumpers, an environmental lawyer. "You have the opportunity to address greenhouse gas emissions." He also warned that some of EPA's other current safeguards may interfere with the new carbon safeguards if not carefully dealth with.
Others urged extensive state involvement in the implementation of the new carbon safeguards. "The states will play an integral role," said Jared Snyder of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Snyder also had another great quote: "The Clean Air Act works."
And while one energy company had good things to say about action on climate disruption - (Chuck Barlow of Entergy: "The U.S. should take action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the NSPS shouldn't just be used to maintain the status quo.") - it didn't take long for two of the same ol' nay-sayers to make their opinions heard.
Randy Armstrong of Shell caused the biggest double-take for many of the clean air advocates in the audience: "Shell has long advocated for a legislative solution for global warming."
Armstrong also said the oil industry's bottom lines are so razor thin, any new safeguards will just cause massive job losses. Hmm...record profits from Big Oil every quarter, but they can't handle making their facilities cleaner? Profits over people.
And then there was Bill Tyndall from Duke Energy, who, like Armstrong, just kept urging EPA to be flexible and delay the rules for a bit - which meant, "Please delay these safeguards for as long as possible." Tyndall also added a line about Congress being the right outlet for long-term decisions.
We hear things like that from Duke and Shell, but then we look back and remember how fiercely Big Oil and other energy companies opposed any sort of climate legislation.
In the end, though, the constructive comments from the panel at the listening session far outnumbered the nay-saying oil and utility execs. The panel commented on the importance of a positive partnership between the states and the feds, of increasing energy efficiency, and of building on the great work so many states have already done in reducing their global warming pollution.
"By agreeing to establish (the carbon pollution) safeguards in the next two years, EPA has taken the first step in fulfilling its responsibility to protect human health and well-being from the impacts of unchecked pollution," said Sierra Club staffer Lena Moffitt (pictured left) during the public comment period at the session.
"The corporations that will be subject to these targeted, common-sense pollution limits are some of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, and should no longer be allowed to use our skies as their free dumping grounds at the expense of our health."
The next and final listening session on these proposed EPA carbon pollution safeguards is next Friday, March 4, in Washington, DC, and the panel will be all oil industry representatives. The Sierra Club will be there, too.