Last week, in a crowded middle school auditorium in Wilmington, North Carolina, over 130 local residents and environmental advocates joined together to speak out in favor of clean energy in North Carolina. They were attending the final of three public hearings held by North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to seek public comment on DEQ’s proposal for complying with the Clean Power Plan, which are the first ever federal standards for controlling carbon emissions. The attendees came to support a vibrant clean energy economy and to ask public officials to develop a strong state plan to reinforce North Carolina’s position as a clean energy leader in the Southeast. They came to support their community, create jobs and improve the health of future generations.
The Wilmington supporters joined voices with over 250 attendees at the Raleigh and Charlotte public hearings in late December to represent the voice of the people. The voices were diverse and represented community members, local universities, businesses, health organizations, environmental advocates, the faith community and future generations. Although the messages were different, these voices spoke out loud and clear: North Carolina needs a better state plan. We need better stakeholder engagement to meet the needs of our community, our families, our health, our economy and our environment. We must do more.
Under the Clean Power Plan, each state is required to develop a plan for cutting carbon emissions, using methods such as trading carbon credits, investment in clean energy and improving efficiency at existing power plants. North Carolina is one of twenty-four states that have sued over the plan, claiming that EPA exceeded its authority to regulate coal-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act. DEQ’s proposed plan will only address part of the new rules, and include no clean energy, ensuring our state’s plan will fall woefully short in efforts to reduce carbon pollution. If the EPA rejects the North Carolina plan in September 2016, a federally mandated plan will be put in place, limiting the state’s flexibility to comply with the new standards.
North Carolina is well positioned to meet the state goals set forth in the Clean Power Plan if we build upon our solar and energy efficiency successes. Now is the time to show your support for a strong and just state plan that meets the federal Clean Power Plan requirements, while bolstering NC’s vibrant clean energy economy. The comment period for the current DEQ proposal ends Friday, January 15. Please join SACE and other environmental allies in opposing the current DEQ proposal and support a state plan that meets the need of the community. As a 13 year-old middle schooler, Hallie Turner, eloquently told the packed hearing room in Raleigh, “Our government has a responsibility to provide us with a healthy, vibrant and naturally beautiful North Carolina.” We can do better. We MUST do better.
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