EPA needs tough regulation of greenhouse gas emissions at power plants

As soon as the EPA regulations are released, they will be open for public comment. Climate activists should show up to submit their thoughts and make their voices heard.

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FILE - Emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 1, 2021. The Environmental Protection Agency is tightening rules that limit emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants from coal-fired power plants, updating standards imposed more than a decade ago. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) ORG XMIT: CLI101

Emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 1, 2021.

AP

With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency poised to release proposed carbon standards for power plants, it is the perfect time to demand definitive action to decarbonize our energy and improve the quality of life for all. The EPA must set ambitious greenhouse gas emissions standards for power plants using its authority under the Clean Air Act and the standards must apply to new and existing fossil gas plants, as well as existing coal-fired plants.

About a quarter of U.S. annual emissions comes from the power sector. By 2030, current law is projected to bring power-sector emissions down to 66% below the 2005 levels. If the EPA sets ambitious carbon standards for gas and coal plants, emissions could be realistically reduced to the 80% reduction target set out by the Biden administration.

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In addition to coal and natural gas power plants directly contributing to planetary warming, proximity to power plants can lead to serious illness. The emissions from U.S. coal plants alone may cost us the equivalent of 200,000 human lives every year. Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are also more likely to live in close proximity to fossil fuel-burning power plants. By improving air quality around power plants, the EPA can help reduce disparities in health outcomes.

As soon as the EPA regulations are released, they will be open for public comment, so it’s critical that climate advocates show up to submit their thoughts and make their voices heard. Join me in demanding action on decarbonization and climate justice.

Elissa Rothman, Ravenswood

Raising an objection to Clarence Thomas’ ethical lapses

The recent news about Clarence Thomas’s financial entanglements with GOP mega-donor Harlan Crow should be alarming to every American. This is what happens when the highest court in the land is given free rein to police itself. Thomas isn’t the first justice to engage in unethical behavior. And if Congress continues to ignore the need for a Supreme Court code of ethics, he won’t be the last.

Of the nine justices currently on the bench, four have been called out for unethical behavior and connections in the last year. Neil Gorsuch sold property to the head of a law firm with cases in front of the Supreme Court, according to Politico. Samuel Alito dined with anti-abortion activists and allegedly leaked decisions on reproductive health. John Roberts’ wife reportedly has earned millions of dollars from law firms with business before the Supreme Court.

Congress has a constitutional duty to act as a check on the Supreme Court and restore faith in our judicial system. It’s time they act and pass a Supreme Court code of ethics.

Daniel Kligerman, Bucktown

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