|Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
April 18, 2011
I think we can all agree that a good Earth Day is one where the pervasive power and presence of the fossil fuel industry begins to crack, and this year we are seeing real signs of fissure in the Goliath.
On April 9, after weeks of negotiations and a near shutdown of the government, congressional leaders reached a deal on the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government until September 30, 2011. In a significant victory clean air supporters beat back another attempt to block clean air standards when House budget negotiators were forced to drop their insistence on EPA riders that would block the agency’s ability to reduce carbon pollution. The White House and Senate leadership insisted the Clean Air Act remain intact and a bill free of these damaging riders passed the House and Senate late last week.
On Thursday Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), one of the nation’s largest coal-burning utilities said it would shutter 18 of its coal-fired boilers and pay billions to rein in pollutants at many of its remaining units, underscoring the evolving energy landscape in the United States. The move by the TVA will result in nearly 1 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power capacity going offline by the end of 2018.
On Friday the House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee held a hearing on EPA’s new limits on toxic pollution from industrial boilers and cement kilns and the proposal to set similar rules for coal-fired power plants. The rules, which have come under attack by House Republicans, would require these industries to install pollution controls that would save thousands of lives each year and prevent asthma, heart attacks and other life-threatening illnesses.
Many of our member organizations are working for a safe, clean and affordable energy future with major reductions in the use of both oil and gas. These are all good signs of progress but we don’t have to look too far back to remind ourselves of the destructive nature of the industry.
On this year’s Earth Day we want to take special note of dedicated organizations in the Gulf devoted to ensure that we as advocates, our leaders and the public do not forget the tragedy that happened one year close to Earth Day. Eleven deaths and over 200 million gallons of oil destroyed countless communities and ecosystems. Sadly, their effects are far from over. Chemical dispersant continues to be used across the region, workers dependent on the Gulf’s natural resources have yet to reclaim their livelihood and residents’ health continues to decline. We support and thank those groups who demand stricter, safer and more accountable fossil fuel regulations to prevent damage like that caused last year, and that industry continues to cause every day in the Gulf and elsewhere.
Today Power Shift is wrapping up an incredible weekend here in Washington, DC. Power Shift 2011 brought together over 10,000 young organizers with leaders like Lisa Jackson, Al Gore, Van Jones, and Bill McKibben to fire up a grassroots movement for climate action across America. Thousands headed over to the White House to protest against polluters and pressure President Obama to do more on climate change. Participants then went on to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BP Headquarters, and converged for a lobby day in one of the largest citizen visits to Capitol Hill. More information about this weekend’s events can be found at Powershift2011.org.
Peter Bahouth, Executive Director