No Small Feat
In recent weeks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staff have likely become much more educated about how their rulemaking reflects the teachings of Torah.
How many on the EPA staff are Jewish? I couldn’t say.
But there is good reason why the Agency has received countless emails with this faith-inspired message. Since April, the EPA has heard from hundreds of Jews across the country writing in support of the first-ever proposed limits on carbon emissions. In collaboration with our friends at the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), we’ve spread the word about this historic proposal and rallied a robust expression of support from the Jewish community. Thank YOU for being one of the hundreds of American Jews who submitted comments to the EPA, sending a clear message that these standards reflect our community’s environmental and social justice values.
The EPA first proposed the carbon standard in March and opened the rule for public comment soon thereafter, setting the deadline to collect comments as yesterday, June 25. Early estimates indicate that over 2.1 million Americans, including hundreds of Jews and thousands of people of faith, submitted comments in support of the Carbon Pollution Standard. Earlier in the public comment period, we were also proud to represent the American Jewish community by testifying in support of the standard at an EPA hearing in Washington, D.C. You can read our full testimony here.
Carbon emissions are the leading cause of climate change, and the United States is the largest emitter of carbon emission in the world. As such, the EPA standard represents no small feat. The proposed standard would address the heart of our nation’s carbon problem by targeting power plants, the country’s leading source of carbon pollution at more than 2 billion tons each year — nearly 6.5 tons for every man, woman and child in the United States. Under the proposed standard, carbon emissions from new power plants would be capped at 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide for every megawatt of electricity produced. And with conventional coal plants currently emitting nearly double that amount, limits on carbon pollution are long overdue.
Carbon emissions have a deleterious impact on environmental and public health. Warmer overall temperatures due to climate change cause increased levels of ground-level ozone, a harmful air pollutant that can cause asthma and respiratory infections, as well as lead to premature death. As of 2008, more than 126 million Americans lived in counties that did not meet national ozone standards. A staggering 55 percent of American children lived in counties in which the eight-hour ozone standard was exceeded at least one day per year.
Although today’s limits apply only to new, rather than existing, facilities, they are a needed first step in addressing these issues. There is still much to be done to develop comprehensive carbon pollution policy, but we applaud the Administration’s continued efforts toward that goal. Thank you again for raising your voices to demonstrate significant support from the Jewish community for the United States’ first-ever carbon standard, and we’ll have more on the rule’s status as the EPA moves toward issuing a final version later this summer.