Listening to Heartland Voices: The President’s Climate Action Plan

Leader Blog

This month, Region 7 will be doing a lot of what this agency does best: listen, learn, and lead.  The reason:  the President has tasked the EPA to take the point on one of the most important  challenges facing our generation of Americans:  cutting carbon pollution that harms our health, impedes our industrial competitiveness, and poses serious challenges to Heartland communities that depend on agriculture.

The President in June announced a national Climate Action Plan.  The President’s Plan assigns EPA a big job in accomplishing these vital goals: cutting carbon pollution from power plants, building a transportation sector for the 21st century, encouraging use of cleaner and avoidance of dirtier energy, and preparing this country for climate change’s impacts on weather and water.

Administrator Gina McCarthy has already shown she takes this assignment seriously.  She’s committed the EPA to working with lots of different interests – states, businesses, citizen groups, researchers – to develop common-sense, workable solutions that build on our success, and enlist all parts of this nation and all sectors of the American economy.

November in Region 7 offers our chance to do our part.  The EPA works best by listening to the best ideas about energy-saving, industrial innovation, and transportation progress.  That’s why I’m convening a public listening session on Monday, November 4, at Region 7’s office in Lenexa, Kansas.  Anyone can attend.  I’ll be there with Becky Weber, who directs our Air and Waste Management Division, and her key staff so we can hear ideas, recommendations, and, yes, constructive criticism about the EPA’s duty to propose new rules that cut carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants.  This session will be one of 11 meetings scheduled nationally.

Throughout  November, Region 7 air-quality staff will fan across the Heartland, seeking input from Midwest stakeholders. We are encouraging feedback from communities that could disproportionately experience impacts from climate change, and we’re soliciting ideas from folks who have already made great progress in modernizing our use of energy.

And if you have ideas for reducing electrical demand, getting more mileage from a gallon of fuel, or controlling the pollutants that are even now altering our climate, please send them to: carbonpollutioninput@epa.gov.

The EPA will propose new rules to control carbon pollution in June 2014. As state-agency partners carry out key responsibilities to implement the Clean Air Act, their plans are due in 2016.

The President’s direction to EPA kicks off an intense period of research, listening, collaboration, and cooperation here in the Heartland.  We who live, work, and farm here know that we have a duty, as citizens and parents, to do our part to help leave our kids a world rich with opportunity and to adapt intelligently to the challenges we already see affecting our water, soil, and air.

For more information about Region 7’s evaluation programs, go to http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-7-midwest

Karl Brooks serves as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 Administrator. He supervises Agency operations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine Tribal Nations. Previous to this appointment, he was an assistant professor at the University of Kansas.  Since 2000, he taught American environmental, political, and legal history as well as environmental law and policy to thousands of KU undergraduate, graduate, and law students.

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