The True Cost of Repealing the Clean Power Plan

Lily and I attended the listening session on February 28th in San Francisco, CA hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency regarding their proposal under Administrator Scott Pruitt to repeal the Clean Power Plan. I wrote about my opposition to this plan as you may remember in the post A Load of Crap and How to Flush it.

I signed up to attend and provide oral testimony during this listening session weeks ago. I was very excited for the speaking opportunity in such proximity and for an issue I’ve earned sweat equity in the outcome. This session was the kind of thing Climate Reality had trained me for! After the date for it was announced, I started a rah-rah campaign to entice other climate activists and resistance-minded allies to attend and speak. I had visions of zero-emissions carpools, large painted banners, matching shirts– perhaps as a nurse I could wear my scrubs– all in the name of chewing on the ear of the EPA.

Then Hubs and I decided to move and put my house on the market. Suddenly I was attacking the junk in my closets and garage like they were the very fossil fuel industries causing global warming. The night before the listening session also became the night before the Broker’s Open. I was sorting my laundry area until O-dark thirty. I took a two hour “nap” at 4 in the morning, and woke up to make beds, clean my bathrooms and vacuum floors. Lily arrived early, with final touches of decor and baby Theo in tow, and provided emotional support for me in my zombie-spinning-nonsensical-twirling state.

And she told me to stop bleaching. “I stepped in cat poop! Does it smell like cat poop? It can’t smell like cat poop! I’m going to take that cat’s ninth life! I was picking up poop and I stepped in poop! Does it smell? Lily!” “No, it smells like bleach. Stop it! You shouldn’t be using toxic chemicals.” Okay fine. I got caught. I selfishly pulled out the big guns. I had a moment of screw the planet if it means I get ahead somehow!

And then I got a grip. Today was EPA day after all. And Lily is the most unforgiving of witnesses.

After my realtor kicked me out, I made my way to Lily’s house. Were we really going to drive to the city for this little EPA thing? Does it really matter? I had already written a letter. Written testimony was weighted the same as oral testimony, after all. Just like the bleach in my bathtub, I was bargaining with myself, trying to justify and minimize and bargain my way into the easy route.

Just like SCOTT PRUITT! Good thing I wasn’t Administrator of a major governmental agency on February 28th or I would have been acting just like that nard ball.

Anyway, back to Lily’s house. Actually, her living room floor. That’s where I was laying in the prone position lamenting about how tired I was and bargaining with myself and Lily about into not going. I had no clothes, no sleep, and no words prepared. I had pillows under my eyes and no makeup on yet to conceal them. Lily threw some one-sized fits all number and and told me she would drive. I told her I couldn’t do flats and eyeballed her Uggs and she said fine. I don’t know how she did it, but she got me in that car and to the room. Having only three cups of coffee on my stomach, I almost puked, but the mystical creature that is Lily got me there.

I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. We were surrounded by so many other concerned citizens, from so many different vantage points: mayors, professors, scientists, nurses, people who had lost their homes, have children in their lives they are concerned about, an Allegheny county native, victims of the the northern California wildfires. We heard from such a variety of opinions supporting the same goal: Don’t repeal the clean power plan!

IMG_0202
Artwork in City Hall, San Francisco depicting sea level rise by 2117

I was surrounded by my base, and it was nourishing to drink in that refreshment and respite this room of strangers offered. After weeks of feeling like what I was doing wasn’t working or wasn’t important and that no one cared, here was a room full of people who had extracted themselves from their busy lives, to show up, to say their peace, and fight the good fight.

I was speaker number twenty five, so I had twenty four 3-minute speeches to figure out what to say. After, I received a few approving nods. I collected my bags to go, and one woman followed me out (pickup time across the bay was looming regarding aforementioned children). Like Lily, she sported a baby carrier on her chest. She was a mother too, said she really identified with what I had said, and we shared an embrace that calmed my nerves and filled me with sisterhood.

Here’s what I said. If you are reading and you haven’t yet done so, its not too late to get your word in edgewise and submit your opposition to repealing the Clean Power Plan: One Thing You Have to Do Today.

Mellissa Ahern. A-H-E-R-N.

I am a nurse, trained Climate Reality Leader, taxpayer, constituent, American, Godmother, and Mom.

Man-made climate change is as proven as gravity. This repeal of the Clean Power Plan is in direct opposition of the swift action necessary to curtail the devastating effects of climate change.

What is the real cost of repealing the clean power plan? Not just in dollars and cents, but for our safety, health, and habitable conditions on our planet?

How many of the estimated annual 90,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths are worth burning more fossil fuels when we have clean energy solutions at hand?

How many babies born without brains due to Zika infection in pregnant mothers can Scott Pruitt sleep with at night?

How many communities can be rebuilt from hurricane Harveys and Irmas can we afford?

How many flooded nursing facilities with our elderly swimming in feces contaminated water is okay in this society?

How many homes can burn down in the middle of the night while citizens sleep in their beds and Trump golfs at Mar-a-Lago?

How many economic crises can Congress bail out when the carbon bubble bursts?

How many farmers can afford to drill deeper and deeper until droughts finally dry our aquifers and threaten our food supply?

Given the division our country is facing, what will become of the United States when stressed with further political instability caused by climate change, climate disasters, and climate refugees?

According to a March 2017 Gallup poll, more that 70% of Americans agree that our government should prioritize alternatives like renewables over dirty fossil fuels.

Quire frankly, I’m pissed. I’m a working mom. I work hard to care for patients at work and my children when I’m at home. I pay my taxes, and I need to come here today and advocate that the EPA do its job and what is right?

I challenge Scott Pruitt’s EPA to do its job, and protect the environment. Stop gambling with our future. Stop wasting time we simply cannot afford.

 

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