On the heels of efforts earlier this week by 13 senators to ensure that coal-fired power plants are not provided emissions loopholes in future energy and climate legislation, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) today introduced a bill that would do exactly that — impose a two-year freeze on using the Clean Air Act to set standards for the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. The following statement is from Earthjustice senior legislative representative Sarah Saylor regarding Sen. Rockefeller’s legislation:
“Senator Rockefeller’s legislation is an attack on the Clean Air Act, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA, which held that greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change are considered pollutants under current law. Further, it is a favor to the coal industry, which is responsible for more than a third of U.S. carbon emissions.
“Sen. Rockefeller is asking for a two-year freeze on implementing the law as it applies to industrial sources of pollution, in large part coal-fired power plants, in order spare the coal industry from the inevitable conclusion that it is an antiquated, dirty, 19th-century industry that will not fare well in a global, clean-energy, 21st-century economy.
“What we need now is legislation that moves our nation and industries forward toward clean energy, sustainable job creation for a modern world, improved national security, and economic and scientific leadership.
“Big polluters in the fossil fuel business have been writing our nation’s energy policy for decades. It is time to level the playing field for renewable and other clean-energy solutions. Senator Rockefeller cites buying time for the growth of ‘clean coal’ as a motive, but there is one simple truth: Clean coal does not exist.
“Studies show us that proximity to coal mining significantly increases occurrences of cancer, sickness, and premature deaths. Sadly, in coal-mining states like West Virginia, the people are paying the price of such a dirty industry. The economic gains do not justify the human costs, and further, coal-mining economies are still among the poorest in the nation.
“Strong clean-energy and climate change legislation — rather than loopholes and delays for politically powerful industries — will revive communities in every state, including West Virginia, bring new jobs to America, and make our country safer, stronger, healthier, and more prosperous. We cannot afford delay.”