The Climate Crisis
2012 was the hottest year on record in the United States.
Climate change threatens our families, communities, and planet. It means more severe storms, floods, and droughts, and increased illness -- and death -- from more severe heat waves and pollution. It will also change where crops can grow and cause the spread of insect-borne diseases. Disasters like Superstorm Sandy and the severe drought and fires of 2012 (which many scientists believe were worsened by climate change) will exact a continuing toll on federal, state, and local budgets. Even the Pentagon views climate change as a major national security threat.
Solutions:Trying to cut carbon pollution while increasing our use of high-carbon fuels like tar sands is a bit like trying to diet while binging on hot fudge sundaes -- it's not going to work. That's why we're urging the president to reject the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
We also need to cut carbon pollution from power plants. Power plants release more than 2 billion tons of CO2 each year -- 40 percent of total U.S. emissions. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to limit carbon pollution from the nation's fleet of power plants. These standards can achieve huge health and climate benefits at surprisingly low cost. NRDC, a rally partner, has developed a flexible proposal under which the EPA would set standards for each state reflecting its current mix of coal and gas generation. You can read more about NRDC's report to cut power plant pollution here, and watch a related video here.
The Sierra Club, also a rally partner, has outlined five key actions that the Obama administration must take to curb the country's carbon emissions and address climate disruption. These actions include:
1. Hold fossil fuel corporations accountable for their pollution
- Adopt and enforce coal pollution protections for carbon, soot, smog, sulfur, water toxics and coal ash, and set water pollution standards that will end mountaintop removal mining.
- Enact standards and close loopholes to protect water, air, and climate from fracking and other forms of oil and gas production.
- Finalize Tier 3 clean fuel standards, finalize emissions standards for refineries, and establish strong mileage standard for medium and heavy-duty vehicles.
2. Reject proposals to import dirty fuels and stop the rush of fossil fuel exports
- Stop Keystone XL and other tar sands infrastructure.
- Halt expansion of fossil fuel exports, including liquefied natural gas export facilities, new coal export terminals, and increased oil exports.
- Increase US-backed international finance of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and phase out fossil fuel lending.
3. Double down on clean energy
- Open innovative financing and investment avenues for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Facilitate environmentally responsible leasing and deployment of clean energy generation and technologies on public lands and waters and within federal agencies.
4. Protect communities from future climate disasters and readying a robust and just response
- Release equal and just national climate resilience plans that help create strong and sustainable communities, infrastructure and ecosystems.
- Hold EPA and FEMA accountable for ensuring equal, appropriate and just federal emergency and disaster response, including better equipping state and local officials to develop and support climate resilient communities.
5. Protect America's lands, air, water and wildlife from fossil fuel development
- Stop the rush to expand oil and gas drilling, coal mining, and dirty fuels development on our public lands and the Outer Continental Shelf, reform the Department of Interior coal leasing program, and protect the Arctic Refuge and national parks from fossil fuel development.
- Ensure that lands and wildlife can adapt to climate disruption by protecting large scale landscapes that connect wildlife habitat, and ensure that every national forest addresses the impacts of climate disruption and protects carbon-storing old growth forests as part of their management plan.