Greens expect ‘busloads’ to support EPA climate rule at hearings

Environmental groups and their supporters are planning to come out in droves this week to public hearings to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to limit power plant carbon pollution.

The greens, along with allies, will speak in support of the EPA’s plan, which they say will fight climate change, improve public health and create jobs, among other benefits.

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“Across the country, Sierra Club members will turn out in force at the EPA hearings this week,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told reporters Monday in a conference call organized by environmental groups. “We anticipate busloads of our members to join each hearing from each of the surrounding areas.”

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said this week’s hearings are “a major step in moving forward a climate policy for this country that will define our childrens’ future and that of future generations.”

Beinecke said NRDC coordinated with other groups to make sure a variety of stakeholders will deliver positive comments. Physicians will speak about the health hazards from climate change, farmers will detail the problems they face and governors and mayors will talk about the investments in clean energy that they expect the rule will bring to their communities, Beinecke said.

“There’ll be a lot of Sierra Club members, and NRDC will have members there as well, but I think that what we are very interested in is people from the communities who are seeing direct effects, and there has been a tremendous number of people signing up for the hearings,” Beinecke said.

Supporters of the National Wildlife Federation will also come to speak about how climate change hurts outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing.

“If we want to make sure our children and our grandchildren enjoy the same opportunities outdoors, to enjoy the incredible species and the great diversity of wildlife we have across the country, we really owe it to them now to begin cutting carbon pollution from the existing power plant sector,” said Collin O’Mara, the wildlife group’s president.

While all of the groups represented on Monday’s call said they support the EPA’s proposal and will make that clear at the hearings, Beinecke said she also thinks it should go further.

“We think that the plan could be more ambitious, and during the comment period, NRDC will be supplying detailed comments on how that could be achieved,” she said.

The coal industry and mining union leaders are also planning their own shows of force at the hearings in an attempt to make sure their voices are heard in opposition to the proposal.

Each of the hearings will take place over two days this week, with events planned in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Denver and Washington, D.C. The EPA expects to hear from more than 1,600 people throughout the week, but it is also accepting written comments from the public until October.