Just a few weeks ago, nearly 70 ACE youth scholarship recipients from around the country attended the PowerShift Conference, the largest convergence of informed, climate-focused youth on the planet. At the conference these leaders attended workshops and panels like “Strategic Campaign Planning” and “Digital Media & Storytelling.” Now, back home and equipped with new tools and skills, ACE youth leaders are beginning to take climate action in a meaningful way.
Please take a moment to read the story below about several of these remarkable leaders and how they raised their voices for climate action at the EPA this week.
ACE Youth Leaders Testify at EPA Headquarters in DC
“In 2009, EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas pollutant, accounting for nearly three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions and 84% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”1
Because carbon dioxide is currently classified as a pollutant by the EPA under the Clean Air Act, it is subject to regulation. However, even though a whopping 40% of carbon pollution in the United States comes from power plants, there currently aren’t any national rules in place to limit their emissions.
While we currently have public protections in place to limit mercury, arsenic, lead, particulate matter, and other pollution from power plants, we have no national rules to limit carbon pollution from these same sources. It’s time for this to change.
Earlier this year in June, President Obama made an unprecedented announcement. He pledged to reduce dangerous carbon pollution through a system of executive actions that would both prepare us here at home for the impacts of climate change while also leading the international community in endeavors to confront global climate change around the world.
Specifically, President Obama issued a special Presidential Memorandum as part of his Climate Action Plan, calling on the EPA to work diligently on completing carbon pollution standards for the power sector, and the EPA has begun doing this work. This week the EPA is holding 11 listening sessions around the country to hear concerns and ideas around the best and most cost-effective Clean Air Act approaches for reducing power plant carbon pollution.
ACE youth climate leaders recognize both the deep need for national rules to limit carbon pollution from power plants and the President’s leadership when it comes to climate change. That’s why 7 ACE youth leaders from DC, Maryland and Virginia, equipped with new skills and renewed energy from the recent PowerShift Conference, testified at EPA Headquarters in Washington D.C. yesterday. They took a stand to both express their personal concerns about climate change, but also to prescribe ideas for the best Clean Air Act approach to limiting harmful emissions from power plants–many of which are coal-fired and notoriously dirty.
ACE youth leader, Troi Newman, a senior at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, Maryland, testified first. She inspired the panel and audience with stories of her and her grandmother, and their Native American roots. Troi is member of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe of southern Maryland. She opened her remarks by saying, “I am a Native American. Native Americans have always believed–and still do–that earth an its resources should be respected and preserved. At the rate that things are going, there won’t be much left to preserve.” She went on to say, “There are 400 indigenous Inuits in Kivalina, Alaska who’s island will be under water by 2025 due to climate change. Temperature records are showing that Alaska is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world.” She closed by saying, “I think it’s important that the EPA place limits on carbon pollution for existing power plants. I will also continue to do my part by working with Alliance for Climate Education and serving as President of my school’s Ecology Club.”
It was equally inspiring to hear testimony from ACE youth leader, Kwanesha Love, a senior at Central High School in Capitol Heights, Maryland. She said, “Climate change won’t just affect this generation, but many generations yet to come.” She went on to say, “We can cut carbon by making our schools and homes more energy efficient. I urge the EPA to include energy efficiency in a standard for existing power plants.” In closing she said, “I’m here at this listening session today to ask that the EPA create a strong carbon pollution standard for existing power plants so that we can address the main cause of climate change and protect the public from its devastating impacts.”
These students, even while sitting alongside spokespersons for the coal industry (aka: the status quo), showed that they are determined to win this. They demonstrated that there is an exchange of power happening right now–that this generation is shifting power.
Join ACE in empowering youth to shift power and break through the challenge of climate change.