Operation Free supporter and Truman Partner Daisy Pistey-Lyhne offered the following comments on the national security, public health, and economic benefits of the Clean Power Plan at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency listening session on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan in San Francisco on February 28, 2018. Pistey-Lyhne is an independent consultant on energy and climate issues with an MS in Earth Systems from Stanford University, and she has been a member of Truman National Security Project since 2010.
Hello. My name is Daisy Pistey-Lyhne. I am speaking today in opposition to the repeal of the Clean Power Plan as a San Francisco resident, a citizen of the United States, an environmental scientist with a master’s in global systems, and a member of Operation Free, which mobilizes veterans and the defense community in support of action on climate change.
We know that climate change is real, and America must exert global leadership in carbon pollution reductions to slow its effects. Coral reefs are dying off around the world. Fisheries are collapsing as these breeding grounds for juvenile sealife are destroyed. We also know that climate change is a national security threat. The military and the CIA have both said since 2010 and even before this that climate change makes the world a more dangerous place.
Climate refugees are being forced from their homes as wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, and sea level rise pound our communities and put huge burdens on our economy. Regions around the globe are being destabilized by natural disasters and the added burden of natural resource scarcity.
The Clean Power Plan would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 32 percent by 2030—for the first time regulating at the federal level the climate pollutants that come from the sector that produces the largest quantity of them.
The Clean Power Plan has been in the works for several years now based on a Supreme Court ruling that found that our nation has a responsibility to regulate greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the harmful health effects of this pollution on our nation’s communities under the Clean Air Act. Despite this, the design of the Clean Power Plan as proposed in draft form prior to the Trump Administration’s push for repeal was an important step in the right direction, though it did not go far enough. Our nation must step up and meet the demand for reductions in both greenhouse gases and other air pollutants from our nation’s power plants in order to slow climate change below dangerous levels and to reduce the health burden on the health of our citizens and the associated financial burden on our nation’s healthcare systems.
Given how the Clean Power Plan does give significant flexibility to the states in how they meet their carbon pollution reductions, the overall financial burden of the plan is minimal. As we have already heard, the majority of states are already on track to easily meet their emissions reductions, while stimulating their economies and growing jobs.
Additionally, the legal and health and environmental reasons for the Clean Power Plan are still in place, regardless of today’s politics. The electrical sector disproportionately places a health burden on low-income communities and communities of color across the nation due to the fact that fossil fuel power plants are more often located in and near these communities, leading to death, heart disease, asthma, low birth weights, cancer, and other pulmonary and cardiac diseases. Almost 8,000 deaths occur every year due to the pollution from fossil power plants across our country. By reducing the use of fossil fuels across the nation, the Clean Power Plan will increase environmental justice and reduce the costs of healthcare on our nation’s most fragile citizens.
Furthermore, if we don’t take steps to move away from fossil fuels of the past and towards clean energy of the future, we will experience more frequent extreme weather events—that’s why the military leads the way on clean energy investment and innovation.
Clean energy is already the cheapest energy on the grid in many cases across the country today. Sticking with fossil fuel generation is like deciding that we want to stick with flip phones rather than adopting the smart phones in most of our pockets. Renewable energy is the power of the future. We are already seeing huge growth in jobs, drops in cost of wind and solar, and enhancements in the reliability and consistency of this resource through improved storage and better grid technology.
We already have more than a half million clean energy jobs in California, and clean energy has been one of the only consistent growth sectors even during the recession of 2008-2011. We now have more workers in clean energy in California than actors in Hollywood, more in Texas than ranchers, and more in Appalachia than work in the coal industry.
We need the leadership of the federal government to bring us to this clean energy future. This is why I urge EPA Administrator Pruitt and President Trump to keep their promise to revitalize the economy and create opportunities for jobs of the future by making sure that it is American factory workers, engineers, and scientists who are—with the help of smart investments—developing the clean energy production and storage technologies that we will use to power our economy for decades to come. For the economy, for the health of our cities and the security of our world, we need this plan.
As Mary Nicholls said, this is a listening session. Who are you listening to? The oil and gas and coal industry lobbyists? Or the future of our children, the health of our communities, the vast number of jobs created and to be created in clean energy industry, and the millions around the world whose homes will be destroyed and endangered by the consequences of climate change in coming years. I urge you to listen to your citizens and move forward with the Clean Power Plan in the strongest form possible.