Vigorous Public Outreach to Cut Carbon Pollution and Fight Climate Change

In carrying out President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA is conducting unprecedented and vigorous outreach and public engagement with key stakeholders and the general public. That’s especially true with our proposed commonsense standards to cut carbon pollution from new power plants—and it’s the case leading up to next year when we propose guidelines for states to use in addressing carbon pollution from existing power plants.

In preparing the guidelines for existing power plants, EPA leadership, including Administrator McCarthy, has been meeting with industry leaders and CEOs from the coal, oil, and natural gas sectors. We’ve been working with everyone from governors, mayors, Members of Congress, state and local government officials – from every region of the country — to environmental groups, health organizations, faith groups, and many others. We’re doing this because we know that carbon pollution guidelines for existing power plants require flexibility and sensitivity to state and regional differences. We want to be open to any and all information about what is important to each state and stakeholders. That’s what this process is all about.

That’s why we’re holding 11 public listening sessions around the country at EPA regional offices and at our headquarters in Washington. Attendance so far has been outstanding—more than 150 people each at the first two listening sessions in Atlanta and New York, and another 300 in Denver. And we’ve heard a variety of opinions from groups that included power companies and cooperatives, non-profits, elected officials, college students and private citizens.

And that’s in addition to the numerous stakeholder meetings that EPA regional and headquarters staff have convened and attended across the country. We’ve also received tremendous feedback online through carbonpollutioninput@epa.gov, which I encourage folks to use to share your ideas right from your home.  And our website, www.epa.gov/carbonpollutionstandard is another great way to engage in the process.

Keep in mind, all of this outreach and engagement is happening well before we propose any guidelines. When we issue a proposal next June, the more formal public process begins—including a public comment period and an opportunity for a public hearing—which gives folks even more ways to share their ideas.

Wherever you live, climate change means something to you in some way—and carbon pollution is the driving force. Our changing climate affects us all where we live and work. In the west, firefighters are braving longer and more dangerous wildfire seasons. In the Midwest, farmers have watched their crops wilt – and their livelihoods suffer – under the harshest drought conditions seen in a generation. Coastal cities and counties are pooling resources to devise ways to deal with sea level rise. Nationwide, families and businesses need reliable, affordable electricity to thrive and grow, and the people whose livelihoods depend on the energy industry are wondering how EPA’s guidelines and state programs might affect them.

We’re conducting the rulemaking process to develop commonsense, pragmatic carbon pollution guidelines the only way EPA knows how—by being open, transparent and by basing the guidelines on good science.

That’s how we reduce carbon pollution and spark clean energy innovation. And that’s how we fulfill EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment.

Janet McCabe is the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, having previously served as OAR’s Principal Deputy to the Assistant Administrator. Prior to joining EPA in November 2009, McCabe was Executive Director of Improving Kids’ Environment, Inc., a children’s environmental health advocacy organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana and was an adjunct faculty member at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health.  Ms. McCabe grew up in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Harvard College in 1980 and Harvard Law School in 1983.