Minnesotans celebrate record-breaking support for curbing carbon pollution

For Immediate Release: June 25, 2012

BREAKING: Minnesotans celebrate record-breaking support for curbing carbon pollution

ST. PAUL – Minnesotans joined together on Monday to highlight the broad public support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standard—a proposed standard to limit industrial carbon pollution from new power plants. This first-ever limit is essential to improve public health and protect Minnesota kids. Over 2.1 million Americans have submitted written comments to the EPA, saying the EPA is doing its job under the Clean Air Act to protect the health and safety of Americans by holding power plants accountable for the amount of carbon pollution they spew into the air. Minnesotans have submitted at least 36,000 comments in support of the EPA rule. The EPA comment period ends at midnight on Monday, June 25, with comments rolling into the EPA from around the nation.

Groups whose members around Minnesota and the nation have commented in support of the EPA carbon standard spoke at today’s celebration in St. Paul. Speakers included Councilman Russ Stark, who represents Ward 4 in St. Paul, Katie Gulley, Regional Program Manager at the BlueGreen Alliance, Reverend Gwin Pratt, Pastor at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, Minnetonka, and a leader with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, Kate Faye, MN350 coordinator, Joshua Low of the Sierra Club, and J. Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director at Fresh Energy.

 “St. Paul residents are concerned about the air that they breathe, “said St. Paul City Councilman Russ Stark, Ward 4. “That is why the new stronger carbon rule that EPA is considering is of major importance to the people of St. Paul, Minnesota, and the country,” he added. “We can all be proud of the over 2 million people that contacted the EPA to express support for clean air.”

Fresh Energy’s science policy director, J. Drake Hamilton, noted that “More than 20 polls conducted across the country demonstrate that Americans want politicians to protect the public health safeguards in the Clean Air Act, and make sure that companies that pollute the air and water are held accountable for the harm they cause.” Hamilton continued, “The most recent poll conducted on this issue, by Princeton Survey Research Associates for United Technologies/National Journal, found that 55 percent of the public, including 59 percent of independents, say that EPA should be able to control greenhouse gas emissions that most scientists agree cause climate change.”

“We want to protect the health of our families and ensure there are good jobs for ourselves and our neighbors,” said Katie Gulley, Regional Program Manager for Minnesota from the BlueGreen Alliance “We want to keep our economy strong and competitive internationally, and we want our children and their children to have the promising and healthy future they deserve. The Carbon Pollution Standard helps us achieve this.”


Senators Franken, Klobuchar Stand Up for Public Health, Votes Against Toxic Legislation


Senators Franken, Klobuchar Stand Up for Public Health, Votes Against Toxic Legislation

Minneapolis – Today, Senator Senators Franken and Klobuchar stood up for the public health of Minnesota’s children and voted against Senator James Inhofe’s dangerous legislation that sought to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently finalized Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants. Thanks in part to Senators Franken and Klobuchar, the Senate rejected the measure. Had it passed, Inhofe’s legislation would not only bar the implementation of these new safeguards, but would also prevent the EPA from ever issuing similar standards to protect Minnesota families from toxic mercury in the future.

“Today, Senators Franken and Klobuchar stood up to polluters and voted in favor of the health and well-being of Minnesota children,” said Joshua Low, Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club. “Senators Franken and Klobuchar’s vote helped ensure that Big Coal is barred from pumping toxics into the air we breathe and the water we drink, preventing thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of asthma attacks every year.”

Mercury is a potent brain poison that threatens prenatal babies and young children, and is linked to severe learning disabilities, developmental problems, and lower IQ. This safeguard would prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, and 540,000 missed work days. Additionally, these protections make economic sense — for every dollar spent cleaning up dirty power plants, Americans are estimated to receive between $3 and $9 in health benefits in return. In total, that means as much as $90 billion in health savings each year. 

Coal-fired power plants are the largest industrial source of mercury pollution. The new landmark protections issued by the Obama Administration in December 2011 will cut toxic mercury pollution from dirty power plants by 90 percent.

In Minnesota, Xcel’s Sherco and Minnesota Power’s Clay Boswell plant were recently listed by the NRDC as the worst plants in Minnesota for mercury pollution reaching the Great Lakes. A recent Minnesota Department of Health study showed that 1 in 10 babies on Minnesota’s North Shore had unhealthy levels of mercury their blood.

“America should be at the forefront of public health and environmental protections, not subjected to polluters and their allies in Congress attempting to overturn landmark toxic safeguards,” said Joshua Low, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club. “Thankfully, Senators Franken and Klobuchar and the majority of the Senate listened to the American people and voted in favor of clean air and healthy children.”

The vast majority of Minnesotans and Americans support mercury protections, which ensure a safer, cleaner environment and healthier kids.

“Moving forward, Senators Franken and Klobuchar should continue to be an advocate for children’s health by voting against the reckless polluting agenda of Big Coal,” said Joshua Low, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club.

 # # #