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June 28, 2013

Celebrating a Historic Call to Action on Climate - Does Your Rep Have the President’s Back?

By Liz Perera, Sierra Club Senior Washington Representative

Tuesday was a big day for the environmental movement.  President Obama finally came out with a plan to use the power of the administration to address climate disruption and to start making the real reductions in carbon emissions that we need to stave off the very worst impacts of climate change.  We have three more years to turn this promise into actions that we can be proud of, but this week we are celebrating the call to action.  

The centerpiece of his roadmap is the carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency will release drafts of these standards in the coming year and finalize them by June of 2015. These safeguards have been more than a decade in the making, and are a huge milestone in the fight to curb carbon pollution. Other highlights include a call to double renewable energy generation by 2020, an end public lending for coal plants abroad, and aggressive goals for installing renewable energy on military bases and federally subsidized housing.  

Of course there is still more work to be done. The President’s climate commitment gives us great hope that he will finally address some of the remaining, worst abuses of the fossil fuel industry, including dirty and dangerous fracking, ending the devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, halting destructive oil drilling in the Arctic, and overhauling the sweetheart deal on public lands that pads the bottom line of coal companies at public expense.

Since Tuesday, the coal industry and their allies in Congress have already begun attacking the President with the same rhetoric they’ve been using since the passage of the Clean Air Act 30 years ago -- and surprise, surprise the sky hasn’t fallen every time we’ve issued new safeguards for clean air.  There were, however, some notable statements of support coming from one of the largest electric utilities in the country.  American Electric Power CEO Nick Akins,  said in an interview Tuesday that as long as utilities like his are given enough time to transition to a cleaner fleet of power plants, Obama's plan can be carried out "without a major impact to customers or the economy."

In addition to this positive statement, many members of Congress issued supportive statements, including Senator Tester from Montana, who said:

“As a farmer, I’ve seen firsthand the effects of climate change.  In the last three years alone, we’ve seen extreme flood, drought and wildfire wreak havoc across Montana.  It is clear that we must address climate change.  I’m glad the President is kicking off this discussion and I look forward to more details. The President today announced new measures to address climate change by reducing carbon emissions, encouraging investment in renewable resources, updating energy efficiency standards, and modernizing the nation’s transportation infrastructure.  The plan also takes specific steps to better manage drought and reduce wildfires.”

Below is a list of statements from members of Congress who have come out in support of the President’s plan. Take a minute to scroll down and look to see what your representatives said.  And if you can’t find a statement from your Member, call them up and ask them why.







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