On a hot summer day in June 2013, President Obama paused to wipe the sweat from his brow as he delivered a landmark speech on climate change. He invited us to look at our history, to stop betting against American industry and American workers and to stand up to those who say we must choose between the health of our children and the health of our economy. Then he revealed his plan for decisive action on climate change.
Since that speech over 400,000 people marched the streets of New York City to demand climate action, 8.7 million comments were submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of reducing carbon pollution and Pope Francis released a historic call to the world on our moral obligation to act on climate change.
In a year that scientists predict could be the warmest in history, Americans are alive to the pressing threat posed by climate change and overwhelmingly support meaningful action. Recent polls confirm that 78% of us believe the federal government should limit greenhouse gases from U.S. businesses.
This afternoon, President Obama and the EPA put in place the cornerstone of his climate strategy by finalizing the biggest single action any president has ever taken to tackle our climate crisis—the Clean Power Plan.
The plan sets the first ever federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, which account for the largest share of carbon pollution nationwide. In essence, it gives states a platform and a mandate to lead a shift to clean energy and healthier communities that is already underway.
Many states are already on track to meet or even exceed the renewable goals in the Clean Power Plan. See how your state stacks up:
There is no graver challenge facing humanity today than stopping the climate crisis. Extreme weather like increased droughts, wildfires, floods and severe storms along with the deadly pollution spewed from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants impacts all of us—here and now, and forces those most vulnerable to bear more than their fair share of this crisis.
Our climate crisis affects us all in different ways. Hear how Rev. Yearwood who was recently honored by the White House as a "Champion of Change" describes this crisis as a civil rights issue:
Those with the most to lose if we do nothing have done the least to contribute to the problem. Climate change is not just an environmental problem; it is a human rights issue. Our moral responsibility and opportunity to stop this crisis—for the sake of this and future generations—could not be any clearer.
But meaningful action on climate is under constant attack from the fossil fuel industry that uses dirty energy profits to rig our democracy against clean energy solutions. This industry spent nearly a billion dollars during the 2014 election to strategically place climate deniers in office and fund campaigns that mislead us—a public that overwhelmingly wants decisive action on climate. These corporations want to funnel even more money into their own pockets by sidelining public health safeguards and blocking clean energy solutions.
Follow the money that fuels climate change denial in Congress and blocks clean energy solutions:
We must break this corporate stranglehold on our democracy and public health by putting people, not oil and coal companies, back in charge.
Despite what polluters would have you believe, there are real people with real stories and real reasons for a strong, enforceable Clean Power Plan:
Earthjustice will use the power of law to defend and strengthen the tools we have and fight back against polluters who will stop at nothing to delay, deflect and deny the transition to clean energy and healthier communities. We will wield this power at the state and federal levels to spur even more clean energy solutions, such as solar panels and windmills that are becoming commonplace across our country.
When we invest in clean energy, we invest in our communities. We bypass the big oil and big coal middlemen. And we take charge of our own energy, our own power. Instead of bailouts for dirty energy, we can invest in wind turbines on farms, solar panels on our rooftops and schools that use energy more efficiently. That is the path on which this plan sets us.
Going forward, it will be up to us to push our state decision makers to take the plan and go beyond the federal benchmarks to achieve the genuinely clean energy mix that our future and our children's future depends on.
We can do this. We must do this. We will do this.