Yesterday was the first of many big days in the fight to get federal action on climate. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a Listening Session in Dallas to take public comment on the EPA’s upcoming regulations to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants. I headed up to the J. Erik Jonnson Library in Dallas along with our coalition partners from Sierra Club and Public Citizen to help shuttle in citizens from all over Texas and Oklahoma to the hearing to make sure citizen voices were heard.
It’s a good thing we were there. The opposition showed up in full force and packed the rooms, with a line of lobbyists insisting that regulating dirty energy would be detrimental to the coal industry. At first, I thought we were outnumbered, but by lunchtime, we had a strong showing of citizens in “Climate Action Now” t-shirts, telling the EPA that America can no longer allow free rein to power plants to continue poisoning our air and threatening our climate. I’m happy to report that over a hundred people, from doctors to ministers to concerned grandparents and high school students, stood up for swift and strong action on carbon pollution. Many stories were shared, from people’s heart wrenching reports of children and loved ones impacted by asthma from poor air quality, to uplifting tales of the benefits of clean energy progress across the state.
I testified too, telling the EPA about our recent report on power plants, which found that if America's 50 dirtiest power plants were their own country, they would be the 7th most polluting country in the world. Here in Texas, we are the number one offender for carbon pollution, emitting almost double that of the next most polluting state. And I let EPA know that its not just environmentalists who want to see action. Environment Texas has been talking to people about climate, and we know that small business owners, from bakery owners in Fort Worth to solar providers in San Antonio, support the President’s climate action plan. Local elected officials all across the state, including city council members in Austin to the Mayor of Arlington to state senators from Houston to El Paso have also voiced their support for reigning in the biggest polluters to keep Texas safe and healthy.
By the end of the day, I felt confident that the citizen voice was heard over the lobbyists, with a loud and clear ask for action, now.