07/02/2013 11:57 am ET Updated Sep 01, 2013

A Reasonable Approach to a Clear and Present Danger


This week, the President laid out a comprehensive and measured approach to address climate change. As we’ve long argued, climate change is a challenge we must address now. We are already beginning to witness its effects: record high temperatures, extreme wildfires, droughts, floods, and hurricanes.

Failure to react to these events is already coming at a high cost to our constituents. In the last 30 years, asthma rates have more than doubled and people are suffering more frequent and serious asthma attacks. The economic damages from last year’s weather disasters alone totaled $110 billion, and the price tag will increase if we do not address this problem. In order to blunt its impacts and reduce its costs, we need to be aggressive in tackling climate change. The President’s plan will help us to do just that.

As co-chairs of Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, we are pleased the President’s plan builds on many of the successful initiatives our coalition has long advocated for: expanding the development of clean and renewable energy on public lands; promoting technologies, such as combined heat and power (CHP), that save energy and withstand extreme weather events; and having the federal government lead by example by retrofitting federal buildings to operate using less energy and drawing more of the energy they use from renewable sources. And, SEEC applauds the President’s continued work to increase vehicle efficiency and anticipate his forthcoming announcement on heavy duty trucks. It is common sense to take these proven initiatives to the next level.

The new measures in the President’s plan, notably reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants, provide for flexibility and engagement with states and interested stakeholders. We have already taken steps to protect public health by reducing toxic mercury and arsenic pollution. Yet, power plants can generate nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions, and we can no longer ignore the emission levels generated by this sector. Carbon pollution should be treated no differently than any other type of pollutant.

SEEC Members stand with the President in refusing to condemn Americans to a planet beyond repair. That is why we will continue to actively work with the Administration to combat climate change and build a 21st century clean energy economy.