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EPA appeals to minorities for climate rule
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is appealing to leaders in minority communities, saying they will see some of the biggest benefits from cutting carbon pollution from power plants.
EPA head Gina McCarthy promoted her agency's proposal to cut carbon Tuesday in a conference call with minority leaders.
Pollution and climate change uniquely affect minority communities, she said.
"Hot weather means more smog, more asthma, longer allergy seasons," McCarthy said as an example.
"One in 10 kids in the U.S. today suffers from chronic asthma. And we know that those rates get so much higher in African-American and Hispanic children," she said. "An African-American child is five times more likely than a white child to die from an asthma attack."
The call was organized by Green For All, a group that advocates for environmental causes on behalf of racial minorities, including blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. The call was not open to journalists, but a recording was later released.
Green For All supports the EPA's June proposal, designed to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.
The group released a survey last month saying that three out of four of minority voters supports the EPA plan.
"That recent survey that Green for All did shows us that communities of color are overwhelmingly calling for climate action," McCarthy said. "I will tell you unequivocally that the clean power plan that we put out is the most reasonable, practical, as well as affordable strategy that we can put out there."
McCarthy said she sees her job as preventing illnesses caused by pollution, including asthma and allergies. Fighting against those pollutants is an issue of environmental justice, she said.
"This is a justice issue. And it's about striving for clean air, clean water and healthy land for everybody," she said.
She appealed for help from minority leaders in winning over support for the climate rule, saying their support "could be what turns the tide away from poor investments to investments in the future."
McCarthy admitted that the rule would likely increase electricity costs in the short term.
"They're very moderate and consistent with the way electricity prices have been fluctuating," she said. But by 2030, consumers would save money because the rule would improve energy efficiency.