Why You Should (and How You Can) Show Your Support for Obama’s Clean Power Plan on July 30

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The Facts

Are you aware of the facts on climate change? Let’s check. Do you think that climate change is (a) real, (b) caused by human use of fossil fuels, and (c) likely to get much worse in coming decades unless brought under control by strong measures?

If you answered “yes” to all three parts, then you are a citizen with an accurate assessment of the facts. Your view is shared by the overwhelming majority of scientists who study climate change.

But what are the strong measures that can get climate change under control? There is wide agreement on that issue too: the number one thing we must do is reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). We are at an all-time-in-human-existence high for CO2 in the atmosphere and that is what is causing the temperature to rise around the globe.

The government of the United States of America is taking strong measure on climate change. By executive order of the President and under the authority granted by Congress in the Clean Air Act, as recognized by the Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adopting carbon pollution standards for existing for existing power plants that will protect the health of our children and put our nation on the path toward a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector by 2030. The carbon pollution standards for existing power plants are known as the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan is a very important and good step toward protecting the planet for ourselves and our children. The EPA is expected to issue the final regulations for the clean power plan early next week, as the New York Times reported today.

Most of the people who control the world’s fossil fuel supply don’t want to reduce CO2 emissions, despite the harm that it being caused, because they make money from fossil fuel usage. They have already paid an army of lawyers, lobbyists, and media specialists to fight the Clean Power Plan in the courts and in the much more important court of public opinion.

It’s critically important that informed citizens speak out and voice their support for the Clean Power Plan. Other measures will definitely be needed, including a congressionally-mandated carbon pricing policy, but the Clean Power Plan is a huge step in the right direction.

Thinking people of conscience agree that strong measures are needed and there is no sound reason why the government of the USA should not implement the Clean Power Plan.

How You Can Show Your Support

On July 30th, there is a campaign for people around the country to show their support for the Clean Power Plan. Numerous environmental organizations are supporting the July 30th Call for Action. You can show your support by doing three things that are easy to do.

First, call you Senators and tell the person who answers the phone who you are and that you would like to leave the message that you support the Clean Power Plan. To find your Senators’ phone numbers, check out this page.

Second, spread the word on social media that you support the Clean Power Plan for all of the reasons explained on the EPA website. Be sure and use these hash tags: #MakeTheCall and #ActOnClimate. You could also send a message through the Environmental Defense Fund.

Third, talk it up with your friends and family.

If for whatever reason you cannot takes these steps on July 30, do them whenever you can. If we all keep doing this we can convince our government to get climate change under control.

Carpe Diem.

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Philadelphia Eagles Lead All Leagues in Sustainability

Several of our volunteers and supporters recently toured Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles, and learned why the Birds are #1 in sustainability.

As explained to us by tour guide Norman Vossschulte, who serves as Director of Fan Experience, the Eagles are the greenest team in all of American sports. Check out these facts:

  • 100% of the Eagles’ operations are powered by the sun and wind. A total of more than 11,000 solar panels on the roof, over some of the parking spots, and on the front of the building provide 30% of the energy. The rest comes from the purchase of renewable energy credits.
  • Through continuous efforts in recycling and composting, the Eagles have sent no waste to landfills in over two years.
  • A team of 80 people work on game days sorting every bag of trash. With the audio piped into the sorting room, the sorters cheer for their team as they work.
  • The Eagles use no chemicals to clean the stadium, but rely entirely on a water and electrolyte solution that is generated on site and recycled.
  • The Eagles offer beer in aluminum cans with no plastic cups offered, and they recycle the cans, crush them, and sell the aluminum in bulk.

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The Eagles are on the cutting edge of sustainability for American sports teams. As owner Jeffrey Lurie told the New York Times in 2010, “[w]e’ve read a lot that excellent environmental practices are too expensive or not wise for a company. We challenged that.” Major credit goes to Mr. Lurie and his co-owner, Christina Weiss Lurie.

We thank the Eagles for the awesome tour. In addition to all the green stuff, the tour of lockers rooms was pretty cool. Special thanks to Pennsylvania Businesses for a Healthy Climate, which organized the tour.

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American Court Issues Important Climate Change Decision

Earlier this week, we reported on an important ruling by a Dutch trial court. On June 24 The Hague District Court ruled that the Dutch government must ensure that Dutch greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions in the year 2020 will be at least 25% lower than those in 1990. The ruling is important not just because it requires a substantial and quick reduction in Dutch ghg emissions, but also because it could be used to persuade courts in other countries to follow suit.

Media coverage of the Dutch ruling almost completely overshadowed a June 23 decision of potentially equal import issued by an American court in Seattle, Washington.

The Seattle decision requires the Washington Department of Ecology to reconsider its denial of a petition by eight youths who asked the Department to adopt rules that would help restore global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to 350 parts per million (ppm). Until 1950, carbon dioxide levels had not exceeded 300 ppm in the last 650,000 years, but they exceeded 400 ppm in 2013, and are still rising.

 

Background on the Seattle Decision

In April 2014, Washington Governor Jay Inslee directed the Department to report on recommended updates to Washington State’s current ghg emissions limits and to do so by July 15, 2014. In anticipation of the Department’s report, the youth petitioners filed a petition for rulemaking. In it, they requested that the Department promulgate a rule to “implement science-based emissions limits to put Washington on the global climate stabilization trajectory … [and] protect the integrity of Washington’s and the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and climate systems.”

The Department failed to meet the July 2014 deadline. Then in August 2014 it denied the youths’ petition “without challenging the underlying scientific basis for Petitioners’ plea,” as the court noted.

In December 2014, the Department finally issued the report required by Governor Inslee. The Department’s report took note of the reality and urgency of human-caused climate change and of the danger of postponing decisive action by even a few years. Nonetheless, the tardy report recommended “that no changes be made to the state’s statutory emission limits at this time.”

Meanwhile, the youth petitioners had already appealed the denial of their petition to the King County Superior Court in Seattle. They argued in their opening brief that the Department “has statutory and constitutional responsibilities to protect Youth Petitioners’ fundamental inalienable rights to a healthful and pleasant environment and essential natural resources including air and water.” For their legal authority, the youths relied primarily on the Public Trust Doctrine embodied in the Washington Constitution.

Superior Court Judge Hollis R. Hill accepted the argument made by the youths, and remanded the youths’ petition for reconsideration in light of the findings in the Department’s December 2014 report as well as a declaration the youths submitted from a noted climate scientist. Judge Hill also ordered the Department to advise her by July 8, 2015, whether it intends to affirm or deny its decision denying the youth’s petition.

 

Help from Our Children’s Trust

The youth petitioners received assistance from Our Children’s Trust, a non-profit organization that describes itself as “a game-changing, youth-driven, global climate recovery campaign, securing the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate.” It “supports youth in bringing legal action in courts, administrative agencies and local legislative bodies to enforce the Public Trust duty of government to protect natural resources, including the atmosphere, for the benefit of all present and future generations.”

A key supporter of Our Children’s Trust is noted climate scientist Dr. James Hansen.

 

Importance of the Decision

The importance of this decision cannot be overstated. In its 2011 decision in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit seeking abatement of carbon dioxide emissions based on a federal common law theory, thereby dampening hopes for any litigation strategy in federal court to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. The Seattle decision suggests that state courts could be the key to any future efforts in the United States to bring about climate change solutions through the judicial system. 

 

–This article was contributed by Paul R. Kennedy, a lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Photo Credit: artzenter / Shutterstock.com