Community and health advocates gathered at the University of Charleston today to protest the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to do away with carbon pollution regulations. While the EPA’s first and so far only public hearings took place to collect comments about the proposed repeal in the capitol building, another press conference and panel discussion took place across town.
Speakers, made up of Appalachian community leaders, elected officials, faith leaders and public health experts call the Clean Power Plan “lifesaving” and asked attendees to pressure legislators to not only maintain the law, but strengthen it.
“Very few people understand that climate change will affect them personally,” said Mona Sarfarty, executive director of The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.
“Less than a third of people think that it has anything to do with them personally and the reality is that many more people are already impacted than they realize. So we are all at risk, we are all in this together and we all need to do something about it.”
Sarfarty said that the Clean Power Plan reduces the amount of pollution in the air, which she said directly impacts asthma and lung problems.
“That includes children who spend more time outside, pregnant women who are more vulnerable to air pollution. It includes people who have any kind of lung and heart disease and it includes the elderly who are more vulnerable and people who are of lower income and may not be able to live in an area that is as healthful as they would like to.”
Critics of the Clean Power Plan say it unfairly targets coal-fired power plants and that the regulations cause higher energy bills, slowing economic growth.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.