EPA Adminstrator McCarthy Makes A “Moral Obligation To The Next Generation”

As part of the push to inform the public about how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be moving forward on reducing carbon pollution, administrator Gina McCarthy took the stage at the National Press Club in Washington last week.

In her opening remarks, McCarthy referenced the President’s speech on climate change and reiterated that the nation’s actions would have a “profound impact on the world we leave behind for our children.”

Since the EPA has consistently been under attack (at the time of this posting, it is closed), McCarthy directed some of her comments to the role of the agency in protecting “public health and the environment.” In a not so veiled nod to those in Congress, she noted, “We have done our job by developing and using the best science available, and being transparent in our decision-making.” The latter was a response to the push back against climate change deniers and the repeated accusations that the EPA has been surreptitious in its actions.

McCarthy, who doesn’t pull any punches, stated, “Climate change caused by carbon pollution is one of the most significant public threats of our time.” She then proceeded to explain the ramifications of climate change, breaking down its effects into bite size concepts. She defined climate change as being about:

  • Water—and why it must be protected
  • Heat Waves and Droughtextreme weather causing wildfires, impacting food prices and supply, spreading disease through mosquitoes and ticks
  • Clean air—essential to avoid threats from pulmonary and heart diseases, allergies, and the problem of smog (ground level ozone)

McCarthy singled out smog for further clarification. She spoke of its impact on the elderly and children. She specifically underscored the environmental justice issue of how children from “lower income and urban communities are being affected by asthma disproportionately (one in ten American children have asthma).

In presenting the EPA proposal to limit carbon pollution”—the single largest source coming from new power plants—McCarthy prefaced her statistics with the observation that the regulations were a “moral obligation to the next generation that must be met.” She then delved into an outline of the proposal:

  • New large natural gas-fired plants have to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour
  • New small natural gas-fired plants have to meet a limit of 1,110 carbon dioxide per megawatt hour
  • New coal plants have to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (Currently the average coal-fired plant emits about 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour)

McCarthy strongly believes that these carbon pollution standards are both “flexible and achievable,” specifically because they put forth different standards for various types of power plants. The proposed standards for existing power plants will be on a “longer timeline.” However, President Obama has made it known that achieving the goal of greenhouse gas limits on present and future power plants would dovetail with the end of his term.

McCarthy stands behind what she sees as cutting-edge technology, carbon capture and sequestration (CSS). This is a strategy to capture and compress carbon dioxide emissions, and then store it underground. An expensive and new process, there is sure to be plenty of resistance from the coal sector. A potential side effect of the cost of the new rules could drive power companies to turn to natural gas, as well as renewable energies.

McCarthy is being proactive about getting her agenda across through a series of speaking engagements. She appeared at the Clinton Global Initiative, and travel plans include a keynote address at the Michigan Environmental Law and Public Health Conference.

With a shutdown government, it’s time for all of our lawmakers put what is most important at stake and make a “moral obligation to the next generation.”

This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force

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