Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stop Mercury And Air Toxics From Power Plants

Benefits of Standards
On December 16, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Each year it will reduce or prevent hundreds of thousands of illnesses and 17,000 premature deaths. The EPA estimates the standards will cost $11.4 billion to implement, but that the health benefits will range between $59 billion and $140 billion in 2016.

Utility Industry Response
The utility industry claims that these standards will increase electricity rates and result in the loss of thousands of jobs. It relies principally upon modeling done by the National Economic Research Associates.

Crying Wolf
Polluters have been claiming for decades that environmental regulations will result in the loss of jobs and hurt the economy. Decades of studies have shown that these claims are baseless. Eban Goodstein, Professor of Economics at Lewis and Clark College, reports that "the great majority of studies which have examined this issue find that jobs created in environmental and related sectors more than balance jobs lost as a result of higher regulatory costs, leading to small net employment gains economy-wide." An MIT study [pdf] reached the same conclusion.

Take Action
The utility industry is urging citizens to write their senators and representatives to block the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Citizens concerned about the environment and public health need to make their voices heard. Contact william.kramer (at) sierraclub.org to get background materials so you can write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Write today!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blue Green Alliance Fishing Trip

Sunset on Fishing TripLindsay Patterson, President of United Steel Workers (USW) Local 404, needed a break from the hard work of negotiating a new contract for his union, and what better way to relax than a fishing trip! On October 23rd, Lindsay and other steelworkers from the union joined members of the Pennsylvania Clean Air Campaign on the Queen Mary, an ocean-going pleasure fishing vessel berthed in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. The trip was a great success, both because of the fun we had catching a large haul of bluefish and because of the discussion of concerns shared by unions and environmentalists - both members of the Blue Green Alliance.

During the trip out to the fishing grounds, unionists and environmentalist had the opportunity to get to know one another - and exchange fish stories - in an informal setting. After about an hour's sailing, we set anchor and fished for several hours. Although it initially appeared that our shipmate Eric was going to catch all of the fish on the reef, we all eventually started getting bites, resulting in a haul of over sixty bluefish.

Exchange of Ideas
On the trip back to port, we met to discuss the issues that interest both unions and the Sierra Club, and how important our alliance is for everyone on the trip. Lindsay initially spoke of how environmental regulations help to secure good, American, green jobs. Lindsay has a long history of involvement in the Blue-Green Alliance, and spoke convincingly of the urgent need for unions to work with the Sierra Club to support upcoming EPA regulations. He further emphasized the importance of taking action, and provided the group with literature about how to get involved in supporting green jobs initiatives.

Next, William Kramer, the Sierra Club field organizer for the Pennsylvania Clean Air Campaign, lent his support to Lindsay's message, and outlined our current campaign for putting pressure on our legislators to support the EPA. In particular, he explained the importance of the mercury rules for keeping our fish healthy and mercury-free. William then recruited those in the audience to join our team of writers, who are submitting letters to the editor for publication in local news media, and to join us in public events to support the EPA. The evening ended with a renewed understanding of how important the affiliation between unions and the Sierra Club is (not to mention, the added bonus of a bounty of bluefish fillets for each participant).

For additional pictures of the trip, take a look at the fishing trip album at PAcleanAir's Flickr photostream.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pennsylvania Streams Run with Mercury

Join Us at a Rally to Let Senator Casey Know You Support Mercury Regulations

Mercury Fouls Over 70 Streams and Lakes
The Pennsylvania Fish Commission lists 75 streams and lakes that have fish contaminated with mercury. It recommends against eating more than two meals a month of fish caught in those waters.

Pennsylvania Power Plants Major Source of Mercury
When PennEnvironment reviewed the EPA's data, it found that Pennsylvania power plants were the second largest contributors of mercury. Only Texas contributed more.

Mercury Jeopardizes Over 300,000 Infants Each Year
The mercury in the blood of a pregnant woman affects the fetus within her womb. The EPA has found that over 300,000 babies are born each year with an increased risk of disabilities due to mercury exposure.

Sierra Club Strongly Supports Mercury Rule
The Sierra Club has spoken out against the mercury spewing from coal fired power plants.

Rally with us in front of Senator Bob Casey's office at 20th and Market Streets in downtown Philadelphia to support the Mercury Rule proposed by the EPA. Supporters will gather at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.