If it seems like the consequences of climate change are getting worse every year, it’s because they are. Globally, 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history, and NASA predicts there is a 99% chance that 2016 will be even hotter. It’s happening right before our eyes, whether it’s rising sea levels, out-of-control forest fires stemming from heat waves and longer periods of drought, or more frequent and more intense tornadoes and storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. These extreme weather events aren’t just costly; all too often they are deadly.
The President decided that Americans couldn’t wait any longer for Congress to act and announced the Clean Power Plan, a common sense set of guidelines to protect future generations by setting the first-ever national carbon emissions limits for America’s existing power plants. Right now, power plants are allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air, but under this new plan we could see a 30% reduction in pollution from the power sector by 2030. That’s the same as taking nearly two-thirds of all cars and trucks in America off the road in terms of carbon pollution. The plan will also leave us breathing cleaner air by cutting down smog and soot by 25%. In the first year alone of these new rules, up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks could be avoided.
But Republicans in Congress and Attorneys General across the country have done all they can to get in the way of the Clean Power Plan, including filing a law suit to halt its implementation, despite its strong basis in existing law and despite the fact the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the EPA’s authority to take action to limit carbon pollution three times. Even George W. Bush’s former EPA head Christine Todd Whitman testified that the “EPA does have the authority” to go forward with a policy she called the “most flexible thing” the agency has ever done.
In fact, the GOP wants nothing to do with any legislation or executive order to deal with the growing threat posed by man-made climate change. When confronted on their do-nothing position, they often shrug and say ‘I’m no scientist’. And yet they remain 100% certain that we should ignore 97% of the scientific community. Their nominee for president of the United States has even gone as far as saying the concept global warming was a hoax created by the Chinese to beat us in manufacturing.
Big Oil and other Big Pollution interests like the Koch brothers have given Republicans hundreds of millions of reasons to feign or maintain ignorance to the detriment of our environment, health and national security. The GOP didn’t listen to former U.S. Generals and Admirals who warned climate change is a serious and immediate national security threat. They’ve blown off the 97 percent of the scientific community that agree that climate change is real and man-made. They choose to ignore the chorus of economists that say the President’s carbon action plan is good for the economy and jobs. Even moral appeals by the Pope and many other faith leaders that our political leaders need to be better stewards of the planet have been met with indifference from those too busy chasing Koch money. What will it take to convince the Grand Oil Party to act: a climate event straight out of the book of Genesis?
It’s in our national interest to address this crisis head-on now. Lives, money, and precious resources can be saved in our lifetimes. And we have a moral obligation to not leave our children and grandchildren a planet that is damaged beyond fixing.
Questions to Ask
- Without saying that you’re “Not a Scientist”, do you acknowledge that climate change is real? If so, why haven’t we heard any plan from Republicans to combat it?
- Do you agree with the nominee of your party that climate change is a hoax “created” by the Chinese?
- Why do you think it’s more important to protect big polluters than children with asthma or the safety of our drinking water?
- Do you disagree with our military leaders at the Pentagon and Department of Defense who say climate change is a serious national security threat?
- Why are you blocking efforts to create jobs and move us toward a clean energy economy?
- You say you’re against the President’s Clean Power Plan over concern about its effect on the economy. Do you think the effect is bigger than the effect climate change has on our economy from severe weather events like devastating droughts, wild fires, and hurricanes that have reached $100 Billion annually? Do you lack faith in American businesses and American ingenuity to meet the challenge?
- I’m sure you’ve seen the damning L.A. Times expose that oil giant Exxon Mobil’s own scientists knew that carbon pollution was contributing to climate change as early as the 70’s, but publicly denied it and funded groups that promote climate skepticism for decades. Exxon continues to spend millions of dollars attacking climate science and helping elect climate deniers in order protect their bottom line. In addition to being a leading contributor of carbon pollution, Big Oil also poisons our environment with 14,000 reported oil spills every year. My question is: do you support continuing to give an industry that has undermined the public health on so many levels and lies to us about it should continue to receive $4 billion worth of taxpayer subsidies every year? Wouldn’t that money be better spent sending kids to college or fixing our roads and bridges? If you agree, will you co-sponsor the FAIR Energy Policy Act in the Senate (or introduce a sister bill in the House) that would phase out these wasteful special tax breaks for the fossil fuels industry?