EPA Hearings and House Parties - Taking Care of Coal?

06/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

This week's blog post is co-written by Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.

This week, friends of big oil and coal fired one of their first shots across the bow of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the agency's power to set limits on global warming pollution. The frenzy that followed in Washington and in the media should serve as a wake up call to anyone who has not yet weighed in to support EPA's proposed finding that global warming pollution endangers public health and welfare.

By pulling one line out of an obscure government document and circulating it out of context, Republicans in Congress tried to make the case that they had found a "smoking gun" revealing that the Obama White House predicts economic collapse should the EPA regulate global warming pollution. The White House quickly issued a statement making it clear they had said no such thing, in a statement with the fitting title "Clearing the Air."  A hat tip to David Roberts at Grist for unraveling how this non-story became national news.

Fortunately, you now have the chance to weigh in and counter the fear mongering by demonstrating that Americans want strong action on global warming.

Monday marks the first of two public hearings on EPA's draft endangerment finding issued in mid-April, a historic finding by the agency that global warming pollution endangers public health and welfare. The endangerment finding is a comprehensive science based review of expected threats that our nation faces from global warming, including more severe heat waves, disease epidemics, water shortages, and crop failures.

We need to turn these hearings into a powerful demonstration that our country's future will not be set by the coal industry and their allies.

The hearings will be held in Seattle, Washington on May 21 and Arlington, Virginia on May 18. If you live in those areas, there is still time to sign up for both hearings - you can do so on our Big Picture website. The response has been great so far: our organizers tell us that although both hearings now are filled to capacity during the day and they only have evening spots left, EPA officials have said they will remain until every last commenter is heard.

If you don't live in those cities, don't worry - there's still a great chance for you to organize for clean energy options and against coal.

First, we'll have many of our folks inside both these hearings ready to Twitter and blog about what's going on. If you're on Twitter, follow the hashtag #nocoal to see the updates from all our attendees.

Secondly, as part of our Big Picture campaign - climate change leaders across the country will be hosting parties on June 2nd so that everyone can be a part of the Big Picture solution, no matter where you live.

Join us as we watch videos from the EPA hearings, hear more about the Big Picture campaign on a conference call with Sierra Club leaders, and discuss the issues and actions that you the volunteers believe will make the greatest impact in bringing about a clean energy future.

We're looking for Big Picture House Party hosts right now, so check out the Big Picture website to learn more.

Finally, if you have not yet sent in your written comments to the EPA, please do so right now. The coal industry is working hard to prevent the change we need, but together we can help build a clean energy economy for the U.S.