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For Immediate Release
Monday, December 22, 2008

Contact: David Willett, 202-675-6698

Sierra Club Urges Obama to Start with a Clean Slate

Washington, DC: The Sierra Club this week launched a grassroots and online effort calling for President-elect Obama to start his administration with a "Clean Slate".    

The President-elect already has plans to work with Congress to repower, refuel and rebuild America.  There are four specific actions the President-elect can take on day one -- independently of Congress -- that will enable the new administration to start 2009 with a 'clean slate.' These actions will end the delay and obstruction of the Bush administration,  and will make immediate progress on cutting global warming pollution and building a clean energy economy.

Through a series of grassroots and online actions, the Sierra Club will mobilize its activists to urge the Obama administration to jumpstart a clean energy economy and start reducing global warming pollution immediately by doing the following:

  • Direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant a waiver that will allow California and over a dozen other states to limit global warming pollution from cars.
  • End the rush to build dirty coal plants by directing EPA to require all new and existing power plants limit their global warming emissions.
  • Direct his EPA to end irresponsible mountaintop removal coal mining by stopping coal companies from dumping rock and waste into valleys and streams.
  • Restore America’s international leadership in the fight to end global warming by publicly committing the U.S. to cut its CO2 emissions by at least 35% by 2020.

The first "Clean Slate" action asks supporters to email President-elect Obama directly

Twenty-five thousand people have already logged emails into the transition team office since the campaign launched.

"The Bush administration, the Coal industry and the Auto industry have been blocking progress on these issues for years. President-elect Obama can start with a clean slate and make our clean energy future a reality by making these executive decisions," said Carl Pope, Executive Director of Sierra Club.

The need for action is urgent. Big Coal is rushing to get states to approve construction on more than 100 proposed coal-fired power plants before Obama implements a clean energy agenda.  These plants would add more than 488 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of adding nearly 100 million cars to the US highways, and eliminate any meaningful market share for clean energy investment. 

Background on the issues

Coal plants---There are approximately 100 proposed coal plants around the country. These plants, if permitted and constructed, would emit more than 480 million tons of CO2 annually (about as much as 100 million cars) and would make it impossible for the incoming Administration to achieve meaningful CO2 reductions. There are currently 500 coal-fired power plants in the U.S already, which are responsible for 25,000 premature deaths each year and 2 billion tons of CO2 annually, making them the nation’s single largest source of global warming pollution.

Carbon reduction targets---The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international scientific authority on global warming, has estimated that to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, developed nations must reduce their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 (this is equal to 35% below 2005 for the U.S.).  The goal would be achieved both through a cap on carbon emissions and additional efforts to reduce emissions at home and abroad.  International efforts would include programs to end tropical deforestation, assist in sustainable development and help the world’s least developed countries adapt to the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided.

Cars--California has long been a leader in setting tough vehicle emissions standards for cleaner air and more efficient vehicles, including setting the first standards to reduce tailpipe emissions of CO2 by 30% by 2016. Over a dozen states have followed or are following California’s lead but the Bush Administration’s EPA denied California the necessary waiver to implement these standards, blocking all the states from moving forward.  With so many states waiting to implement CO2 vehicle standards (and other states in the process of adopting them), the EPA should let states lead in protecting the health and welfare of their citizens.

Destructive mountaintop removal mining--On the campaign trail, President-elect Obama pledged to address the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining by enforcing the Clean Water Act. Obama can fulfill that commitment by restoring the original definition of fill material under the Clean Water Act, which was weakened by the Bush Administration in 2002 in order to make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and debris into valleys, burying streams. To date, coal companies in Appalachia have blown up 475 mountains and buried over 1,500 miles of streams using the devastating process of mountaintop removal coal mining. Mountaintop removal coal provides approximately 4% of our nation’s electricity, a small percentage that could easily be supplied by conservation, efficiency, and clean energy.

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