WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, spoke at a public meeting hosted by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) to voice his strong opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan, proposed by the Obama Administration, was an historic step to seriously address the growing threat of climate change by cutting carbon pollution from power plants – our nation’s largest emitters – by 32 percent, while delivering climate and health benefits of up to $90 billion dollars and reducing household energy prices by $85 a year, according to EPA.
“There are still too many people who say it’s impossible to have clean air and also have a growing economy. That’s hogwash. We can have both and we have proven that we can time and time again,” said Senator Carper. “The last administration, through initiatives like the Clean Power Plan, worked really hard to clean up our air and reduce emissions, and you know what? They launched the longest running economic recovery in the history of the United States. Don’t tell me you have to choose between more jobs and a healthy, safe environment. The Clean Power Plan, which built on the common sense actions that states, cities, businesses and utilities are already taking on their own, was a testament to that fact.”
In October 2017, the Trump Administration announced that it would begin the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan. While the agency is accepting written public comments on its proposed repeal until January 16, 2018, EPA has chosen not to provide a public venue for Delawareans, let alone any residents on the East Coast, to voice their opinions on its proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan. Under the Obama Administration, EPA held 11 public listening sessions before it proposed the Clean Power Plan and held four hearings during its public comment period.
The DNREC meeting, held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, gave Delawareans an opportunity to provide comments on EPA’s proposal to scrap the Clean Power Plan, which was developed after two years of outreach to states and stakeholders and the consideration of 4.3 million public comments. Today’s event was especially timely since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just announced today that, in 2017, the total costs for extreme weather and climate events exceeded $300 billion, a new annual record in the U.S.
Senator Carper was joined at today’s meeting by Governor John Carney, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, former DNREC Secretary and current President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation Collin O’Mara and Delawareans from across the state who made their voices heard on this important issue.
Senator Carper’s full statement, as prepared for delivery, is available below.
“Before I begin, I want to thank Governor Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin for their tireless leadership on climate change and other environmental issues critical for the people of Delaware. I also want to thank everyone who came today to make their voices heard on this important issue.
“I believe a critical role for the government is to create a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. Another critical role is to protect public health and ensure all Americans can pursue life, liberty and happiness.
“I also believe that these roles are not mutually exclusive. For over forty years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sought to foster economic growth while ensuring that Americans are protected from life threatening pollution. In 1970, President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act into law, which established a framework for the EPA to curb our nation’s air pollution with flexibilities written in to ensure our economy could continue to grow. President George H. W. Bush later built upon President Nixon's success with the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which gave us the clean air laws that we have today.
“The EPA has used the Clean Air Act to address some of our nation’s biggest environmental problems - smog, soot, Acid Rain and the hole in the ozone layer, just to name a few. We still have improvements to make on these fronts, but our nation has made huge environmental and health gains, all while growing the economy. In fact, since 1970, aggregate emissions of common air pollutants dropped by 72 percent, while the U.S. gross domestic product grew 219 percent. Total private sector jobs increased by 101 percent over the same period. Put another way, the Clean Air Act benefits outweigh the costs of regulation by a margin of 30 to 1! That’s a good deal, if you ask me.
“Today, we face another environmental problem – perhaps our most challenging to date – climate change. The Clean Air Act is again the right tool to address this ever more pressing issue, and, as it has worked to do for decades, I believe the EPA struck the right balance between protecting health and growing the economy in the Clean Power Plan.
“Make no mistake, the scientific evidence is clear, climate change is real and a growing threat to all Americans, especially Delawareans living in the lowest lying state in the nation. For over fifty years, U.S. scientists have been collecting satellite, ice core, and other scientific data that show a clear link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. According to NASA, the data collected shows global warming is occurring at a rate ‘unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.’
“Every year, we learn how climate change is affecting our lives and, perhaps even more importantly, the lives of future generations. Just last summer, under the Trump Administration, NOAA released the State of the Climate report developed by 450 meteorologist scientists from over 60 countries. The report concluded global temperatures are rising, with 2016 the hottest year ever recorded. Sea levels and ocean temperatures are rising. There is more carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere today than in the past 800,000 years. The report also found growing evidence climate change affects the intensity and frequency of weather events.
“Scientists and medical professionals have also linked climate change to increased ground-level ozone and allergens in the air, deadly high temperatures, and to more pests in our food and water – all of which are having a negative impact on human health.
“Climate change impacts are happening today. In the Northeast, we are experiencing heavier downpours, extreme flooding and sea level rise that is damaging and degrading infrastructure and harming human health. These climate impacts are especially concerning for the state of Delaware.
“I often invite my colleagues that deny climate change to come visit our state – let them see first-hand the frequent flooding in Southbridge, the roads washing out in Odessa, the more frequent and stronger storms ravaging our beaches and back bays, and the sea level rise at Prime Hook. Maybe then they would agree with a majority of Americans, the scientific community and the rest of the world that we must commit to act on climate change.
“The science has long been clear to me, which is why I’ve worked my entire Senate career to find ways to address carbon pollution from our largest sources and why I strongly supported the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan was an overdue federal policy, ensuring every state in the nation takes necessary steps to address carbon pollution from our nation’s largest emitter – power plants.
“The EPA issued the Clean Power Plan after an unprecedented two-year outreach and engagement process with states and stakeholders. The agency received and considered the 4.3 million comments submitted during the formal notice and comment process.
“The Clean Power Plan gives states and electric utilities the time and flexibility to meet reasonable carbon pollution emissions reduction targets, allowing five years until reductions need to begin. The Clean Power Plan provided long-term certainty for our nation’s power sector and allowed the more than two-dozen states that have policies either limiting power sector carbon emissions, or expanding renewable energy, to integrate those policies into a national program.
“The EPA estimated that, by 2030, the Clean Power Plan would cut emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2012 levels, deliver climate and health benefits of up to $90 billion dollars and reduce household energy prices by $85 a year.
“Fortunately, we know moving toward a better climate economy is good for consumers, public health and our climate. In the past decade, the Obama Administration and Congress made huge investments in clean energy and energy efficiency and implemented overdue clean air and climate protections – including the Clean Power Plan. I was proud to support such efforts. As a result, our country rebounded from one of its greatest economic downturns in history, lowered energy costs at the meter and the pump for consumers, and implemented clean air protections that protect public health and our climate, all while adding 16 million new jobs -further proving we do not have to choose between clean air, a better climate and a strong economy. States – such as Delaware – that have acted on climate change in the past decade have seen similar benefits.
“Unfortunately, this Administration has decided to scrap all the good work the EPA has done with the Clean Power Plan and start from scratch. All the while, the EPA Administrator continues to spout claims that perhaps the science is not clear on climate change and maybe we shouldn’t be doing anything. To say the actions by this Administration are a disappointment to me is an understatement. I believe walking away from the Clean Power Plan and other climate and clean air protections is not just irresponsible – it’s irrational. It puts every Delawarean at risk. And saying that you have to do so for the good of the American economy is blatantly false.
“Ignoring climate change, or the science underpinning it, will not make it go away; instead, that ignorance will only make solving the problem more difficult and more expensive. The threat of climate change is greater than any one state, or region or country – we all have to do our part, and the federal government has a leadership role to play.
“Rather than scrapping forward-looking standards like the Clean Power Plan, we should be looking at ways to continue to drive American innovation. We should be fostering new economic opportunities in distressed communities that may still be dependent on older energy sources.
“I remain committed to holding this Administration accountable for the actions that they take to reverse our progress on climate change and to continue working to find ways to work with my colleagues to act on climate. We must resist the fake news swirling around on climate change and persist on climate actions. The well-being of our planet and the future for our children and grandchildren depend on the actions we take today.”