Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Pollution Has Consequences

Climate
Pollution Has Consequences

Elections have consequences—that's a common political trope we hear after every election, and it's true. It's also true that pollution has consequences, and those hit Americans right where they live, from kids with asthma, to rivers fouled with coal pollution, to the farmer in the grip of an unending drought made worse by climate change.

Pollution will still have consequences. Decisions about energy will continue to be made at the local and state level, by utility commissions and state regulators who are usually far less partisan and polarized than their federal counterparts—and those are venues where every one of us can and should get engaged.

As the new report by the world's leading scientists makes clear, the effect of climate pollution released over the next two years will be far more lasting and irrevocable than anything that happens in the 114th Congress. So now is not the time for despair—it's time for us to double down and do the most effective, strategic work of our lives.

While Americans showed their anger and frustration at the voting booth and sent new leadership to Congress this week, they did not vote for dirty air, dirty water or dirty energy. However, unless we do our work very well, that is just what they will get. In the next two years we will need to defend the progress that has been made to address climate change, shift away from fossil fuels to clean energy, and safeguard public health from dangerous air and water pollution.

Federally, climate deniers are poised to take the reins in several key U.S. Senate committees, and they clearly intend to take aim at a whole host of air, water and climate safeguards, especially the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

Meanwhile, in statehouses across the nation, polluters are teeing up a wave of anti-environmental measures, including making it harder for homeowners to go solar, rolling back state clean energy standards and blocking states from reducing their carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan.

At the same time, when it comes to our progress moving the U.S. beyond coal, we're not going backwards. No new coal plants are being built in the U.S. right now, our existing coal plants aren't getting any younger, and clean energy is being installed at such skyrocketing rates that wind and solar are as cheap as fossil fuels in a growing number of states around the country.

Pollution will still have consequences. Decisions about energy will continue to be made at the local and state level, by utility commissions and state regulators who are usually far less partisan and polarized than their federal counterparts—and those are venues where every one of us can and should get engaged.

Poll after poll has shown that the public wants clean air, clean water and action to tackle the climate crisis. We want more investments in clean energy now. Local concerns about public health, air pollution, and clean water will still be the most powerful arguments in the room. And regular people, fighting for their families and their communities, will still be the most powerful force shaping America's energy future.

I'll leave you with a couple of pieces of advice that seem very fitting this week, from two strong Appalachian women who I count among my heroes. When Judy Bonds, a leader and legend in the fight to end mountaintop removal, was in failing health, she told her friends and supporters that the best way to honor her legacy was simple: "Fight harder." And to paraphrase legendary labor organizer Mother Jones, "Don't whine—organize!"

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Dark Money Fuels Election Wins for Climate Deniers

Will GOP Try To Fast-Track Keystone XL Pipeline?

Obama: Climate Change Remains Priority No Matter How Many Deniers in Congress

Recycling and general waste plastic wheelie bins awaiting collection for disposal in Newport, Rhode Island. Tim Graham / Getty Images

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. According to The National Museum of American History, this popular slogan, with its iconic three arrows forming a triangle, embodied a national call to action to save the environment in the 1970s. In that same decade, the first Earth Day happened, the EPA was formed and Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, encouraging recycling and conservation of resources, Enviro Inc. reported.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The coal-fired Huaneng Power Plant in Huai 'an City, Jiangsu Province, China on Sept. 13, 2020. Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A grizzly bear killed an outdoor guide in a rare attack near Yellowstone Park. William Campbell / Corbis / Getty Images

A backcountry guide has died after being mauled by a grizzly bear near Yellowstone National Park.

Read More Show Less
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) re-introduces the Green New Deal in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2021. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

In the latest of a flurry of proposed Green New Deal legislation, Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday introduced the Green New Deal for Cities Act of 2021, a $1 trillion plan to "tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."

Read More Show Less
Offshore oil and gas drillers have left more than 18,000 miles of pipelines at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Offshore oil and gas drillers have discarded and abandoned more than 18,000 miles of pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960s, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.

Read More Show Less