Athenians rally at statehouse to stop global warming

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

On Saturday, more than 200 Ohioans — including more than 40 from Athens — rallied on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse to support immediate action to stop global warming. Families and concerned citizens from communities across the Buckeye State were joined by environmental groups, public health experts, faith leaders, and clean energy businesses in support of President Barack Obama’s plan to regulate carbon emissions from new and existing power plants, the nation’s number one source of global warming pollution.

“Our message today is clear. The time is now to act on climate,” said Christian Adams, state associate with Environment Ohio. “Global warming threatens our health, our environment, and our children’s future. Ohioans support President Obama’s plan to clean up the biggest carbon polluters.”

Rally participants are urging Ohio’s state and federal lawmakers to embrace Obama’s plan to regulate carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. On June 25, 2013, Obama announced a sweeping new climate action plan for the second term of his administration. The centerpiece of his plan is directing his Environmental Protection Agency to propose limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, the largest single sources of carbon pollution, responsible for 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions.

Advocates emphasized the role of existing pollution standards in protecting public health to highlight the need for further action.

“Children and families live on the front lines when it comes to pollution and hazardous chemicals,” said Mike Piepsny, executive director of Environmental Health Watch. “Every day, we see how safeguards and regulations make their day-to-day living conditions safer and cleaner. It is estimated that existing clean air regulations saved 160,000 lives last year.”

On Sept. 20, the Obama administration announced the first ever carbon pollution standards for new power plants. The proposed standards will essentially block the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they are capturing and sequestering their carbon pollution.

“Climate change is a political problem, it is an economic problem, it is a scientific problem, but it is also a spiritual problem,” said Stephen Gifford, pastor with a Cleveland area United Church of Christ congregation.

Ohio’s power sector ranks second in the nation for carbon pollution according to EPA data. Investor owned utilities like FirstEnergy and American Electric Power operate the five top most polluting power plants in Ohio that contribute 50 percent of total power sector emissions in the Buckeye State.

“Now more than ever, we need our leadership to stand up for what the citizens of Ohio are asking for: action on clean energy and global warming,” said Geoff Greenfield, president of Athens-based solar installation company Third-Sun Solar.

Rally participants are urging Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman to join them in supporting the president’s plan.

“We need strong limits that will put us on track to meet the president’s commitment to reduce carbon 17 percent by 2020 and invest in renewable energy & energy efficiency,” said Adams. “We urge our Senators Brown and Portman to stand with Ohioans in support of climate action.”