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LETTERS / A Path to Cleaner Air and Water

Dear Editor:

I was heartened by a conversation with an aid to Representative Jordan this morning, a conversation in which she said that Representative Jordan cares about the environment and our beautiful mountains.  In that spirit, I’m writing to ask our mountain community to join like-minded individuals in advocating two important policy areas: Carbon Pollution Standards and Fracking.
The President must act now to set limits on dangerous carbon pollution from our power plants, the nation’s largest carbon polluters.  Every year, these plants dump more than two billion tons of industrial carbon pollution into the air.  As someone diagnosed last year with asthma–despite having no family history and never having been a smoker–I can attest to the effects of higher pollution days.  There is strong public support for finalizing a Carbon Pollution Standard for U.S. power plants.  When the EPA last year used its authority under the Clean Air Act to propose the first ever industrial carbon pollution standards for new power plants, the agency received a record-breaking 2.3 million public comments supporting their proposed limits.  Finalizing a Carbon Pollution Standard for U.S. Power plants is an important national step toward a healthier environment for us all.  
At the state level, the Domestic Energy Jobs Act (S76) is currently being examined by a Conference Committee. This “Jobs Act” attempts to clear the path for fracking to be commonly done in our state, despite the clear evidence of the harmful effects fracking has on groundwater.  And there’s no proof that fracking will create thousands of new jobs for our citizens.  Most new jobs created by fracking will go to individuals who move to North Carolina from other states because they will be experts in the field.  A few low-paying jobs are the most likely outcomes for North Carolinians.  Detail from S76 further demonstrates its lowering our standards of public protection: certain members of the Mining and Energy Commission will no longer need to be knowledgeable in specific fields, such as resource and waste management.  Knowledge of these issues at a policy level is critical to protecting the health and well-being of North Carolinians.  
Constituents can still make a difference in S 76 by contacting members of the Conference Committee. Here is a list of those who are serving on the Conference Committee: Rep. Mike Stone, Chair; Rep. James Boles, Jr.; Rep. Ruth Camuelson; Rep. Mike Hager; Rep. Ken Goodman; Sen. E. S. (Buck) Newton, Chair; Sen. Andrew Brock; Sen. Bob Rucho; Sen. Gene McLaurin; Sen Kathy Harrington.  
For the health and wellness of our communities, our elected officials need to focus on science-based policies that will help us all.

Janet Palmer