Earth Day is an important time to consider the toll that climate change is taking on our state and planet. The Colorado Climate Plan documents that our state has warmed substantially in the last 30 years, with consequences including increased heat waves, more frequent and severe wildfires and extreme flooding.
Among all sources of climate change pollution in the United States, the largest contributors are fossil fuel power plants. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which cuts carbon pollution from power plants for the first time, is so important.
Reducing pollution from dirty power plants will have many immediate health benefits. People living near power plants suffer from high rates of asthma caused by breathing smog and particle pollution. And Latinos have higher rates of respiratory illnesses because of where we live. According to a report authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council, half of all Latinos in America live in the areas with the nation’s worst air quality. The EPA has found that Latino children are 40 percent more likely to die from asthma attacks than non-Hispanic whites.
Unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry, together with its allies in Congress and statehouses across the country, are aggressively working to block the Clean Power Plan through lawsuits and legislation. In February, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to stop implementation of the Clean Power Plan while legal challenges are considered. Stopping or delaying action on climate change is a high-risk gamble with our children’s health.
The good news is that Gov. Hickenlooper and the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment have said they intend to continue developing a state Clean Power Plan. But Colorado fossil fuel interests and their political allies will be pushing to maintain as much dirty energy production as possible intact as the plan is implemented. We can’t let that happen.
With so much at stake for our families, now is the time to speak up to demand that Colorado prioritize renewable energy as we implement the Clean Power Plan. Our kids and communities are counting on us to build a healthy, clean energy future.
Finangi Manganez is a member of Climate Parents and a volunteer with the grassroots organization Protégete.