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Why I'm Celebrating an Obscure Bureaucratic Moment

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As a mom and climate activist, I read this week's headlines with a strange, conflicted feeling. I want more people to be aware of the urgency of the climate crisis, so I am glad that the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is getting much-deserved front-page attention.

"Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world's oceans," reported the New York Times, in their lead story on Monday.

But the details of the predictions are almost impossible to take in. Ice caps melting. Coral reefs dying. The world's food supply at risk. My children's future is on the line, and it makes me heartsick. I want solutions to this crisis. I want to sharply curtail our greenhouse gas emissions, now.

What's not front-page news today is what the EPA is doing to limit climate change. I am clinging to the hope that this brings, and celebrating what the EPA is trying to accomplish.

This week EPA's proposal to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants moved to the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

What Does This mean?

Although EPA limits emissions of harmful pollutants like lead and mercury from power plants, there are currently no limits on the amount of carbon that can be emitted by power plants. We know carbon dioxide causes climate change. We know that climate change threatens our health and, especially, our children's health. It's time to limit these dangerous emissions by the largest single source of carbon dioxide pollution in our country: power plants.

EPA has already proposed standards that would limit emissions of carbon from new power plants -- ones that have not yet been built. This will improve the planning and design for our future power plant fleet.

As for our current power plant fleet, the ones that account for 33 percent of our nation's greenhouse gas emissions, that's where we can have a real and immediate impact on carbon emissions. That's why I am celebrating this relatively obscure bureaucratic moment -- the transfer of the existing source rule from EPA to OMB.

EPA is required to get approval from OMB before it can propose a draft standard and open a public comment period. So this is a step forward in our ability to slow climate change. The process is on track.

Tens of thousands of you have already demonstrated support for EPA's standards on new power plants. And there is still time to let the EPA know that we support these carbon pollution limits for future power plants. But the real fight -- to set limits on the power plants already operating in our backyards -- is just beginning.

This time the fight is moving into our back yards. Your governor will have to decide whether to implement a plan that protects both health and jobs or refuse to act. That's why we are gathering moms and dads from across the country in the week before Mother's Day to go to their state capitols and ask their governors for the best Mother's Day present ever: a safe and healthy future for our children.

We hope you'll join us at Mama Summit 2014 as we celebrate and rally for action on climate change.

In the meantime: Thank You, EPA, for moving forward in your efforts to limit our emissions of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo: Shutterstock

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