EPA seeks public input on new carbon pollution standardsWritten by Staff Reports | | email@example.com
By Holly Tuey
An upcoming citizen hearing will provide the public with an opportunity to learn about new carbon pollution regulation for future power plants in the United States.
The event is an opportunity for anyone in the community to get involved in the discussion on climate change. It will be held in the McQuade Auditorium at the University of Toledo College of Law, 2801 W. Bancroft St. The hearing is expected to run from 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 22.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comments from the public on the new carbon pollution regulations. The National Wildlife Federation and other partners in the “I Will #ActOnClimate” campaign are hosting hearings across the country to discuss why these standards are important by addressing the risks of climate change as well as talk about opportunities to counter climate change and solicit public comments for the EPA’s official record.
“Last year, our efforts set a record,” said Frank Szollosi, the Great Lakes regional outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. “We solicited over 3 million public comments on the EPA’s efforts to regulate carbon pollution. This is a continuation of that.”
In June, President Barack Obama announced the country’s first-ever limit on carbon pollution for future power plants. According to the “I Will #ActOnClimate” campaign, the administration plans to release similar regulations next year for existing power plants.
The new standards will reduce the allowed emissions from future power plants to about what a natural gas-burning plant produces, Szollosi said. He said the regulations will prohibit the development of another plant like Bay Shore in Oregon, which doesn’t have carbon-capturing technology on its coal-burning unit.
“The coal companies are adamantly against this. It is going to stop the development of future coal-fired power plants in the U.S.,” Szollosi said. “But the fact of the matter is because natural gas is so cheap, even prior to the development of this rule, utilities have opted to use natural gas-burning plants, which are more efficient and cheaper than coal.”
Szollosi said there are other benefits that will come from the new standards and that the carbon-capturing technology needed for existing plants like Bay Shore is currently being developed.
“This new rule will provide the impetus to greater innovation and greater technological investment,” he said.
Szollosi said pollution from the power sector in the U.S. is responsible for 40 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Requiring future plants to have a smaller carbon footprint can help reduce the threats of climate change locally and worldwide.
“Changes in climate are already costing our community money,” Szollosi said. “Look at what happened in Carroll Township this fall. That was the first time public drinking water had to be turned off because of the intensity of toxins [from algae in the water].”
He explained that warmer water, combined with increased runoff from farms, leads to an increase in algae in the water. The increase in runoff is due to more precipitation, he said, which is also a consequence of climate change.
The City of Toledo has also had to increase its water budget this year to keep the drinking water safe from algae.
“We really encourage folks to come out, even ask the tough questions, because obviously this is not without detractors,” Szollosi said. “Basically, it comes down to putting a price on the pollution that comes from coal-burning power plants.”
Szollosi said organizers of the hearing are hoping to have the EPA regional administrator, Susan Hedman, attend the event, but there will be many local leaders, educators and environmental advocates there, too.
Sam Evans is a physics teacher at Maumee High School and a volunteer with the Climate Reality Project. He will be at the hearing to talk about the impact of climate change around the world and how others are addressing the issue.
“Personally, I think climate change is a moral issue,” Evans said. “Once I started to inform myself on this issue, how big the problem is and what the scientists are predicting will occur, it’s like I don’t have a choice. I have to do something about it.”