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A Climate Breakthrough: EPA Releases New Carbon Limits for New Power Plants

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The Obama administration struck a forceful blow against climate change today. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed standards that will limit dangerous carbon pollution from new power plants. No longer will new electric plants be allowed to endanger our health with unchecked carbon pollution and the climate change it causes. Instead, our nation can start creating a 21st century power fleet -- one that uses the latest clean technologies and reduces the threat of climate change.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make this shift now. Climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge of our time, and it is already taking a heavy toll on our communities and our economy.

On Tuesday, several ordinary Americans spoke at a Congressional forum on climate change. Fifth generation Iowa farmer Matt Russell, for instance, talked about the record-breaking floods that had inundated the state in the past few years, wiping thousands of acres of productive farmland off the map.

Hugh Fitzsimons, a bison rancher and honey producer in Dimmit County Texas described the opposite problem: punishing drought. Last year he had to cull two-thirds of his herd because it was too dry to feed them and his bees produced only 2 barrels of honey instead of the typical 75. Stefanie Kravitz said Superstorm Sandy not only flooded her home but also left her entire town of Long Beach, New York in ruins without electricity, water, or gas.

America has always experienced drought and storms, but climate change is packing these events with greater intensity and frequency. If we don't confront this challenge now, we will leave future generations with even more destroyed homes, lost cropland, and crushed livelihoods.

The single most important thing we can do to protect our communities from climate change is to reduce the dangerous carbon pollution from our country's largest source: power plants. Right now there is no limit on how much carbon these plants can pump into our atmosphere. America has already set standards for arsenic, mercury, and lead pollution. It's time to do the same with dangerous carbon emissions, and the standards proposed today will get us going.

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Americans welcome these forward-looking standards. When the EPA proposed its first draft of the standards last year, it received more than 3.2 million comments in favor of curbing carbon pollution from power plants -- the most the agency has ever received on any issue in its history. Poll after poll shows similar support. A July survey conducted by Hart Research for NRDC found that 65 percent of Americans endorse setting limits on carbon pollution from power plants. This includes 49 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents, and 84 percent of Democrats.

People want to shield their families from the hazards of unchecked climate change, and carbon standards for new power plants will get us moving in the right direction. It's time to end the era of unlimited carbon and ensure the electricity of tomorrow won't come at the expense of our children's future. Click here to show your support for carbon standards for power plants.

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