Activists Rally in Atlanta to Celebrate EPA’s Clean Power Plan
(APN) ATLANTA — On Wednesday, August 05, 2015, over two hundred people gathered at Liberty Plaza, across from the Georgia State Capitol, to celebrate and support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan (CPP).
The group was diverse with representatives from the faith community, business community, environmental organizations, elected officials, as well as just plain folks.
Speakers from all these diverse areas told why they strongly support CPP.
The CPP established the first national standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants and encourages clean renewables like solar and wind.
Mikayla Wiseman, 15, who suffers with asthma, told the gathering she was diagnosed with asthma at the age of seven, and her first attack felt like she was drowning.
“In Georgia, we have eleven percent of children with asthma and eight percent of adults have asthma,” State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) said.
Wiseman is now an advocate for clean air. She is like the proverbial canary in the coal mine because on a code orange day, she is the first to feel the effects of air pollution.
Her asthma got so bad she could not participate in any sports like running or swimming. She has a five year-old cousin who was diagnosed with asthma at birth.
It is known that carbon pollution drives warmer temperatures and climate change, while enhancing conditions for dangerous ground level ozone formation and particle pollution, or smog, that can cause asthma attacks, breathing problems, and premature deaths.
“More than eighty percent of the current health burden occurs in children under the age of five years, causing decreased lung function, which can be permanent… Asthma is still the number one reason for admission to inpatient service and emergency room at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” Laura Turner Seydel, Chair of Mothers and Others for Clean Air, said.
“In our fight for clean air, we promote expanding the use of renewable energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, and advancing cleaner and more efficient transportation choices, like mass transit,” Turner said.
Mothers and Others for Clean Air and their parent organization, the American Lung Association; and other national organizations that include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Associations, National Association of County Health Officials, and others have all joined together to stand firm against polluters who want to block the CPP.
John Noel, a former Georgia House Representative and President of Energy Plus Environment, supports the CPP.
He has traveled to Germany and Asia and has seen how other countries don’t waste energy, the way many in the U.S. waste energy.
“Obama’s climate action plan will help make America great again and energy efficient. But there is one company that does not like it,” Noel said, pointing over his shoulder in the direction of Georgia Power.
“People say this is a war on coal; so what? You mean the war to clean up the air so Mikayla’s asthma gets better, or the war to stop cooking the planet? You mean that war? Bring it on,” Noel said.
Noel suggests thinking smarter and more efficiently, like having smart controls that turn off things just a little during peak load hours or when you are out of the house.
“We have an energy policy based on dirty fuel that is based on 18th century technology. That is an economy that is gone and is not coming back. We need a policy that represents the new economy that is clean and serves us in the 21th century. Renewables are better for our health, our economy, and national security,” State Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) said.
Other countries are taking action to address climate change, as Holcomb observed during his time overseas.
“Yet, we have political leaders who deny it [climate change]. We need to get rid of them and get thoughtful people moving this country forward,” Holcomb said.
“So much work and money has been put in deepening the port in Savannah and rising sea levels will imperil that investment for our state. On that basis alone, we should be moving forward on the CPP to keep the sea levels where they are and not imperil our Southeastern port system in the United States,” Parent said to the crowd.
“There has been some action to pass a resolution to delay the EPA’s action and to bolster the economy we currently have based on dirty energy and pollution that harms us all. I call on my colleagues to see the benefits for Georgia with our growing solar markets and our ports and move forward,” Parent said.
“I want to give a shout out to my colleagues in the General Assembly who passed HB 57. HB 57 takes some of the shackles off of further growth of the solar market in Georgia. That is an industry that is poised to grow and that means jobs,” Parent said.
“We are in need of environmental justice. We fear nothing because we are the advocates of social change that are called to justice to restore the communities,” Rev. William E. Flippin, Jr., Third Vice President, Georgia Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said.
Devastating health effects from air pollution and environmental toxins disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.
“We are at Liberty Plaza to seek freedom. Freedom from human-caused extreme weather, freedom from polluted environments, dirty water, coal fired plants, fracking caused earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma. Everybody has a right to clean air, clean water and a pollution free environment, that’s a civil right,” Rev. Gerald Durley, Ret. Senior Pastor, Providence Missionary Baptist Church, said.
“Thank you President Obama, thank you Pope Francis, thank you Environmental Protection Agency… the moral voice of the people will be heard, we will not be silenced,” Rev. Durley said, as he ended the rally with loud applause of agreement.