Green groups press EPA on climate rule

Green groups press EPA on climate rule
© Tim Devaney

Environmental groups say a controversial rule that would cut carbon emissions at existing power plants does not go far enough to protect against the harmful effects of climate change.

During the first day of public hearings to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency's new climate rule, dozens of environmental groups and individuals told the EPA that even stronger regulations are needed than the ones it proposed.

"This rule is neither stringent nor tough enough to avoid the worst effects of global warming," said Christopher Mayo, speaking on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based environmental organization.

The EPA's new rules call on power plants to cut their carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030, a move that would particularly hurt coal plants. Businesses have said the rule would be too expensive to comply with.

But environmental groups, who delivered most of the comments at Tuesday's hearing, say the rule does not go far enough.

One commenter, William Cozzens, a retired former plant worker, called the 30 percent reduction a "soft target." 

"If 2030 is the target date for EPA, then I believe we should be targeting a 70 percent to 80 percent reduction," Cozzens said at the hearing.

While Timothy Whitcombe, a member of the Sierra Club, suggested a reductions target of at least 50 percent, which he said he a reachable goal for power plants. 

"I'm very sick and tired of everyone saying, 'No, it can't be done,'" said Ronald Schlesinger, another commenter. "It's about time everyone get to the idea of, 'At least let's try.' We do have 16 years to get it implemented and I do not understand at all why the power plant companies are fighting it so hard."

Meanwhile, outside the hearing, environmental groups were rallying to raise awareness about climate change. The Climate Reality Project teamed up with Ben & Jerry's to hand out free ice cream to those willing to hear about what the group says is the devastating effects of climate change.

"Ice cream is bipartisan," said Marshall Geck, who works with the Climate Reality Project. "Everyone loves ice cream, everyone wants to cool down on a hot day. Obviously, it's a big draw."

The EPA will wrap up the public hearings in Washington on Wednesday.