As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows America’s power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the air any other country’s entire economy except China. Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center pointed to the report as evidence for why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants is a critical step in the international fight against global warming.
America’s power plants are among the leading global sources of the dangerous carbon pollution that is fueling global warming. Devastating droughts such as the one in California, massive wildfires, increased threats to coastal areas due to sea level rise, and an increase in extreme rainfall are among the impacts that science tells us will become more frequent and severe unless the United States and the world take action now to reduce carbon pollution.
America’s - and New Jersey's - dependence on gasoline as a transportation fuel worsens global warming and threatens public health. Increasing the use of electric vehicles – especially those powered by clean, renewable sources of electricity – can protect the climate and help get us all off oil. More than 220,000 electric vehicles are already on the road in the United States, producing far less global warming pollution per mile than their internal combustion-engine counterparts. By 2025, widespread use of electric vehicles, coupled with a cleaner electricity grid, could reduce global warming pollution by 18.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, compared to conventional vehicles.
Industrial facilities continue to dump more than 5.8 million pounds of toxic chemicals into New Jersey's rivers and streams -- threatening both the environment and human health. According to the U.S. EPA, toxic discharges from industrial facilites are reponsible for polluting more than 17,000 miles of rivers and about 210,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide. To curb this massive release of toxic chemicals into our nation's water, we must step up Clean Water Action protections for our waterways and require polluters to reduce their use of toxic chemicals.
Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity pollutes our air, contributes to global warming, and consumes vast amounts of water—harming our rivers and lakes and leaving less water for other uses. In contrast, wind energy produces no air pollution, makes no contribution to global warming, and uses no water. America’s wind power capacity has quadrupled in the last five years, and thanks to wind energy, America uses less water for power plants and produces less climate-altering carbon pollution. We have vast wind energy resources, and there is still plenty of room for growth, especially for off-shore wind. But the pending expiration of the federal renewable energy production tax credit and investment tax credit threatens the future expansion of wind power. To protect the environment, New Jersey and the federal government should continue and expand policies that support wind energy.
Environment New Jersey Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.