Environmental groups defend EPA's greenhouse gas regulations

Environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have been working together to generate support for Environmental Protection Agency guidelines that the federal government says would reduce carbon emission by 30%.

WASHINGTON: Environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have been working together to generate support for Environmental Protection Agency guidelines that the federal government says would reduce carbon emission by 30%.

Other groups that have joined the movement in support of the EPA's regulations include the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Audubon, and Environmental Defense Fund.

The NRDC is planning to direct 4 million comments to the EPA during the public-comment period that followed the release of its proposals earlier this month, said Peter Altman, climate and clean air campaign director for the NRDC.

"A lot of our energies [are spent] reaching out to people in purple states where the issue is more controversial," he explained. "It’s important to show policymakers there’s public support in their home states."

During a 12-week period that started earlier this month, the Defense Council and partner groups are hosting more than 300 events in 36 states.

The organization will also place ads focused on health that are "largely for the policymaker audience" across Washington, Altman said. He added that the group is "reminding people this is why we need to take action. This is a public health threat; it’s going to get worse."

Early this month, the White House introduced proposed benchmarks known as the Clean Power Plan that aim to reduce carbon emissions by 30% to pre-2005 levels by 2030. The proposal is an effort to "protect public health, move the US toward a cleaner environment, and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power," the EPA said in a statement.

The Supreme Court’s split decision in the Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA case that was issued on Monday will not hamper the agency’s push toward carbon-emission direction.

The Obama Administration followed the early June announcement with a robust social media effort. The @BarackObama, @WhiteHouse, and @EPA accounts all championed the plan and asked followers to share the information.

Pushback against the EPA standards has also been strong. "We believe that everyone deserves access to low-cost electricity, and everyone wants the air to be a bit cleaner every day," said Peabody Energy, the biggest coal company in the US, in a statement. "Advanced coal-fueled electricity is essential to these twin goals."

It declined further comment, but added in the statement that millions of US households qualifying for energy assistance is the real crisis.

"Yet proposed regulations will make energy more scarce and more expensive without any material improvement in emissions," the company said.

The EPA was not immediately available for comment.

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