Paddock: Time to step up on climate change

Paddock: Time to step up on climate change

May 29th, 2014 by By Brian Paddock in Opinion Columns

Lawmakers must act now to protect our climate, wallets and health. I am amazed at the number of decision makers and elected officials who are refusing to take action on climate disruption, the most critical issue of our time.

On May 6, the Obama Administration released its National Climate Assessment. This report was prepared by a national committee of experts in agriculture, climate science, commerce and disaster relief.

The report shows us the significant toll on our health and wallets that extreme weather is already exacting in Tennessee and the effects of climate disruption across the country.

We know that climate disruption has cost Tennessee's families more than $500,000 in 2011 and 2012 alone -- costs for things like emergency and disaster relief, crop assistance, and new flood controls. These impacts will only grow worse if we fail to curb carbon pollution, the main culprit behind climate disruption.

As a Chattanooga Times Free Press May 9 article, "Shifting power: TVA studies new energy options to replace aging coal fleet," highlights, the Tennessee Valley Authority is providing responsible leadership in cutting carbon pollution. TVA has committed to close a number of coal-fired power plants, and is considering its options for closing additional plants. Coal-fired power plants are the chief source of carbon pollution in the United States.

In June, at the direction of President Barack Obama, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose the first-ever national plan to curb carbon pollution from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act. These rules will spur more utilities to modernize how we power our country and our economy, creating thousands of jobs, growing our economy and protecting our health.

We need strong protections to prevent further climate disruption. Now is the time for Congress, governors across the country and all Tennesseans to support the EPA carbon pollution rules.

Brian Paddock is an attorney, as well as the legal chairman of the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club. He also teaches an environmental law class at Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville.