February 21, 2016

By Kathleen Mannard

I believe we have a moral and ethical duty to preserve our environment.  I know though that I have taken the environment for granted before. Growing up in the Pittsburgh area my whole life, I am used to the erratic weather patterns during the seasons. Not that I am a particular fan of winter. When the weather report announces a 30-degree day I shiver at the thought. But every year I expect it to happen. The summer will be warmer and the winter will be cold.
A few weeks ago in January, Pittsburgh had a string of days when the temperature peaked at 60 degrees. Although I enjoyed removing layers of clothing and the warmer atmosphere, I gnawingly knew that this was not normal. Pretty soon the temperature dropped again and we are back to freezing weather. It is a common joke to say, “Thank god for global warming” when the temperature rises.  Although some side effects of climate change may feel good in certain areas, overwhelmingly climate change causes detrimental impacts than good.
Everyone can in some manner pro-actively act to preserve the environment. Whether commuting on a bicycle or recycling all paper and glass products, environmentally conscious acts make a contribution. But, until the United States government implements a plan that hinders carbon pollution, we cannot stop climate change.  If power plants continue to pollute our ecosystem to the point of absolute devastation, our efforts will have no meaning in our lives or for future generations.
In 2015, President Obama and The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced the Clean Power Plan. This historic plan makes real action on climate change to strengthen the trend of cleaner energy sources in America. The ambitious proposal aims to cut heat-trapping emissions by 32% by 2030. Since it’s announcement, two-dozen states have sued the EPA on grounds that the EPA exceeded regulatory authority of coal industries and power plants. On February 10, 2016, the Supreme Court rules in favor of the states and industry groups to halt the first federal limits on carbon emissions. This set back is not a first but certainly a worrisome reaction to the future of the Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan is instrumental for national and international agreement on climate change. “By applying emissions standards for each state, the Clean Power Plan pushes utilities, policymakers and state politicians to transition from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas and zero-emissions renewables like wind and solar,” (Neuhauser, US News). Unfortunately, states that are dependent on fossil-fuel energy vehemently oppose the plan.
Legal challenges will continue to develop within the lower federal appeals courts of the judicial system before an agreement on the Clean Power Plan is made. Climate change is a ticking clock with no signs of slowing down. While we wait for the decisions of legal disputes and the future of The Clean Power Plan, our environment certainly will not wait if pollutants continue to emit at the same rate over the next 15 years.