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Protect the Clean Air Act
Keeping our Communities Healthy: Environment
Our members know low and moderate income neighborhoods are often the most polluted. Air polution, toxic waste, dirty water, these environmental hazzards are the worst in our communities. We have more children and adults with asthma, lead poisoning, and other illnesses caused by a toxic environment in our communities.
ACTION United has been fighting back, working to bring our neighbors together to build green teams that can work for clean air, water, and land in our neighborhoods.
The Action United Green Team has worked in coalition with our allies in the environmental community to:
- Craft legislation for the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County that will regulate how new developments must protect our community environment
- keep the Clean Air Act strong. The time has come for polluters to recognize that our neighborhoods are not their dumping ground.
National Environmental Legislation
The EPA, supported by a three year old Supreme Court ruling, has set the wheels in motion to protect the public's health and safety by enforcing limits on carbon dioxide pollution under the Clean Air Act. Led by corporate coal interests, efforts are underway to dramatically weaken the Clean Air Act and eliminate the EPA’s ability to regulate this type of pollution. Emissions from some of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal plants badly need to be regulated, not given special protection.
From smog to mercury to carbon dioxide, coal-fired power plants are one of the largest sources of air pollution in the U.S., contributing to serious health problems such as asthma. Climate change legislation needs to deal with the fact that U.S. electricity generation accounts for about one third of our total carbon dioxide emissions. We need measurable and reliable reductions from this sector within the next decade if we are going to slow down and reverse climate change in time to head off likely catastrophe.
Communities of color and low income communities often end up feeling the impact the most when protections like the Clean Air Act are weakened. Scientific studies have shown that communities of color are disproportionately exposed to harmful air pollution, including from coal-fired power plants.
The Clean Air Act is effective, and needs to be protected. The Clean Air Act has resulted in better air quality and better health protection. Since 1990, emissions of six common pollutants are down 41%, while gross domestic product has grown 64%, making it hard to argue that it has a negative impact on the economy, but has had a positive impact on the environment. In the past, serious environmental threats like acid rain have been solved through a combination of incentives to create alternative technology with clear regulations that enforce the reduction of hazards. A combination of regulation and incentives for clean energy sources is the right solution.
Current “Cap and Trade” Bills Bargain away the Clean Air Act and undercut Green Jobs Creation The US House of Representatives has passed a Cap and Trade bill that is supposed to limit emissions that contribute to climate change, but because of the coal industry’s influence, current proposals trade away the ability to enforce the Clean Air Act. The trade-offs allow coal plants to continue operating as is, and have so many loopholes that it does not encourage the creation of green jobs. We need to encourage the investment in alternative technologies at home, bringing green jobs to struggling communities, rather than allowing these jobs to end up overseas.
We support strong climate legislation, including regulation of carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, that will protect our air and climate and encourage green technology using the tools that we have at hand.