Carbon Pollution and Climate

Gavin coal power plant - photo by Mitch Epstein
Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio, 2004. Photo courtesy of Mitch Epstein and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Campaign Updates

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Burning fossil fuels for electricity is the main source of carbon dioxide pollution in the U.S., accounting for about 40% of this dangerous pollutant each year. Excess carbon in our atmosphere traps the sun’s heat and, after decades of build-up, is causing changes in the Earth’s climate and putting public health and welfare at grave risk — now and in the future.

The third “National Climate Assessment,” prepared by more than 300 scientists from multiple U.S. agencies and released in May 2014, stated: “Evidence of climate change appears in every region and impacts are visible in every state.” The assessment also found that the Southeast region, from the Appalachian mountains to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, is exceptionally vulnerable to extreme heat events, hurricanes, decreased fresh water availability, and sea level rise.

Yet, despite the danger, there’s no regulatory limit to carbon pollution from power plants, which currently pump out about 2 billion tons of carbon a year. On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a proposal for America’s first-ever rules to reduce carbon from existing power plants, which will help protect our water resources, air quality, farmland, forests, mountains and coasts, and our health.

As a major producer of coal, crude oil and natural gas, the Southeast is a top contributor to America’s carbon footprint. And according to the national assessment, the Southeast is the highest energy user of any of the U.S. regions it examined.

What this means is we have a tremendous opportunity to make a big difference in curbing the worst impacts of climate change. Numerous polls from a variety of sources show steady, or growing public support for taking strong action to address climate change. At the end of July 2014, hundreds of citizens from the Appalachian region attended EPA’s historic public hearings on the carbon rule.

Appalachian Voices is working shoulder-to-shoulder with partner groups around the Southeast to make sure our voice and yours are heard in this critical conversation.

Read more about carbon pollution and proposed policy