116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Pope Francis is calling for urgent action on climate change to protect the most vulnerable, including our children and grandchildren. In his encyclical, the Pope said that 'leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us ... it is a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” Here in Iowa, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines recently called on Iowans to ask presidential candidates not if, but how they plan to work toward climate change solutions.
Virtually every credentialed climate scientist is clear that burning fossil fuels is the primary cause of our warming and destabilizing climate, and that the consequences will grow unless we make deep cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants. Among all sources of climate change pollution in the United States, the largest contributors are fossil fuel-fired power plants, which produce 40 percent of the nation's emissions.
The proposed Clean Power Plan would cut carbon pollution from power plants for the first time. Each state will be allowed to devise its own strategy for producing power with less harmful pollution. Whether by increasing energy efficiency, or increasing wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, Iowa decision-makers will have many choices for how to meet our electricity needs in ways that are affordable, reliable, and that don't imperil our kids.
Iowa is well on our way to meeting the modest goals of the Clean Power Plan, as we already get more than 28 percent of our electricity from clean, renewable wind power. A recent report by the Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA) shows the Clean Power Plan offers Iowa major economic opportunities to help neighboring states meet their carbon reduction targets by selling them wind energy, infrastructure and services.
According to the IWEA report, If Iowa stays on track with its current wind energy growth rate, we'd meet carbon reduction targets with wind alone, while producing enough excess power to help Missouri or Wisconsin meet their clean power requirements. New demand for Iowa wind means adding to the 6,000 people across the state already working for wind energy businesses.
A shift to cleaner power sources also will have many health benefits. Kids living near coal-fired power plants suffer from high rates of asthma caused by breathing smog and particle pollution. Scientific studies estimate that the Clean Power Plan will save thousands of lives per year, and prevent 150,000 asthma attacks. A new EPA study found that cutting greenhouse gas emissions would prevent nearly 70,000 premature American deaths annually by the end of the century. Given the stakes, climate action is the most important gift that we can give our children and grandchildren.
State and federal policies that support wind energy have always enjoyed bipartisan support in Iowa, and so too should the Clean Power Plan. It's a sensible and flexible approach to protecting the health of our kids and communities, while creating new job opportunities in Iowa's rapidly expanding clean energy economy.
' Alisa Meggett teaches Global Studies in Iowa City Schools. Before teaching, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked on Environmental Policy. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org