Pennsylvania groups hold news conference supporting new carbon pollution standard as cornerstone of President's climate action plan

President is applauded for "backing up his strong words with strong action"

Jun 26, 2013, 17:05 ET from PennFuture

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, a coalition of Pennsylvania groups supporting federal clean air and climate change safeguards held a telephone news conference hosted by PennFuture to highlight the support of Pennsylvanians for the historic Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon pollution standard for power plants announced yesterday by President Obama.


"PennFuture is broadly encouraged by President Obama's strong statement yesterday on climate change," said Jim Abernathy, interim president and CEO of PennFuture. "Pennsylvania is both a large contributor to the problem, and is paying real economic and societal costs. For at least a decade, our state has been creating more global warming pollution than all but two other states and that is largely due to the fact that we burn so much coal for our electricity. The President's commitment to limiting carbon pollution from new and existing power plants will be extremely helpful to Pennsylvanians."

"We need solutions that engage all of America," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), who was in attendance for the President's speech yesterday at Georgetown University. "I agree with the President when he says that American ingenuity can help us cut down on pollution, champion energy efficiency, and create the next generation of jobs while taking care of the poor."

"President Obama said yesterday that our progress will be measured by 'crises averted.' Sadly, few places know that better than Pennsylvania, where almost every county has been impacted by extreme weather disasters," noted Adam Garber, field director for PennEnvironment. "In fact, nearly nine in ten Pennsylvanians live in areas that FEMA has designated as a weather disaster area over the past six years." The importance of the President's plan on the natural world also rang true for Ed Perry, Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. "We need to keep in mind that the outdoors industry in Pennsylvania generates $21 billion – with a 'b' – dollars in consumer spending annually, and means 219,000 jobs. Climate change is a big threat to that industry."

The President's decision to take action to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants will significantly address, for the first time ever, the largest unlimited source of carbon pollution, namely carbon pollution from power plants as these plants contribute 40 percent of U.S. industrial carbon pollution. Epidemiologist Dr. Evelyn Talbott, professor at the University of Pittsburgh, noted that "Any standards set forth by the EPA to limit production of carbon, including particulate emissions and greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, will improve public health by minimizing particulate concentrations and slowing the rise in temperatures. These new carbon pollution standards will lead to fewer hospitalizations from cardiovascular and respiratory disease such as asthma in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Scranton, Harrisburg, Allentown. It's a win-win for Pennsylvania."

"In Pennsylvania, our infrastructure, including roads and bridges as well as hundreds of dams in need of repair, stands to benefit from the President's climate action plan," said Khari Mosley, Pennsylvania regional program manager for the Blue Green Alliance. "We'll see thousands of jobs created and improvements made. Retrofitting thousands of commercial buildings across the Commonwealth to make them more energy efficient will also fuel the jobs engine."

"The President is demonstrating leadership to reduce the pollution that fuels climate change and extreme weather, protect public health, and spur a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy," said Gretchen Alfonso, national field manager for Moms Clean Air Force.  "We applaud the President for moving to protect our children and future generations, and backing up his strong words with strong action."

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization, founded in 1998, with staff in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization;" the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization "one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling;" and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across the state, called PennFuture "the commonwealth's main environmental advocate."

Contact: Elaine Labalme

SOURCE PennFuture