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!

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.


One Thing You Have to Do Today

IMG_9234.JPGOn Wednesday I had the privilege to attend the listening session on the EPA’s proposed Repeal the Clean Power Plan. I was so impressed by the diversity of attendees all pleading for the EPA to keep the Clean Power Plan in place. From Doctors to Lawyers to Religious Leaders, Scientists and even representatives from PG&E there was no shortage of passion in the room. I was also not the only mom with a baby strapped to her chest, which I was pleasantly surprised about. Our very own Missy spoke to the panel bringing enthusiastic fist pumps, “good jobs” and many tears from the audience; it’s amazing how two strangers with a common goal can hug and cry in an unknown space. The theme was strong, we are busy professionals juggling families, jobs, and life yet trying to convince a big government bully to do their job. Their job that is supposedly to do the right thing by the environment. Now we can get into a heated political rant, believe me I am ready with my economic facts, but rather lets focus on what YOU can do right now.  Continue reading

Second-hand Clothes are Always in Style


I’ve always loved shopping and I’ve always loved a good bargain. That’s why thrift shops, vintage stores, and yard sales have been my go-to since the early days of following my mom around the Salvation Army store. There are so many great treasures and super deals to be found, but it does take time and patience. Continue reading

A Load of Crap and How to Flush it

I’ve been talking to my almost 5 year old about how to tell if something is alive or not. Which culminated in me rolling around laughing (on the inside, of course) when I told her that poop in a toilet needs to be flushed and she agreed with me as she reasoned that a toilet needs to eat poop or it will die because its alive.

Well here are two pieces of “Recycled/Recyclable- Printed with Vegetable Oil Based Inks on 100% Postconsumer, Process Chlorine Free Recycled Paper” that you can take straight to the recycling can. Or wipe your ass with and feed to the toilet if you find yourself high and dry and your toilet is hungry.  Continue reading

A Renewed Start in 2018

IMG_5051Looking back at 2017, my goals for reducing my family’s carbon footprint didn’t go exactly as planned. We did make some meaningful changes and adjustments to how we live our daily lives, but not every change stuck. We started the year off strong, but lost steam and motivation as the year went on (isn’t that the way most resolutions and New Year goals go?). Life got busy, my baby turned into a toddler, we went on a long summer vacation, I broke my wrist, blah blah blah… Continue reading

Oops – Cheers to 2018


How does one hit publish and have an entire post disappear? Of course this would happen to me. Especially considering getting here has been a struggle given the chaos of the holidays with a big dollop of new baby who prefers to sleep attached to me. I’ve called it my “maternity leave” and am finally coming out of the smog since our journey to see the giant sequoias filled me with fresh air and a fresh perspective.

The holiday hangover was real this year. Theodore arrived early November and then the chaos of the holidays hit. I was bound and determined to not let it get to me, but a mix of hormonal uncertainty and holiday anxiety is not really a recipe for success. I absolutely voted with my dollars, but issues like wrapping paper, battling the awful plastic fight with those horrific gifts from family that refuse to respect our lifestyle, resisting the urge to buy more things because it has been ingrained in my head since I was a wee tot, and making sure that that capitalist Santa guy was bringing my kids enough “stuff” haunted me.  I did manage to find everything on the big guys list used and no one new the difference. For the 26 kiddos on my list I purchased books from our local bookstore and opted for some jammies made of soft organic cotton and not made in China. For wrapping paper I made reusable fabric bags from scraps of fabric left over from old projects, this was a bit ambitious and I’m not sure I can recommend this for a new mom next year.  We also hosted a vegetarian nearly gift-less Christmas Eve and it was quite lovely. We didn’t master the art of refusing, still having a hard time convincing my husband on that one, so in our bathtub you will find a peeing plastic baby doll and a plastic singing tea cart in the box in our living room (I keep trying to trade that one for something less hideous). How do people avoid these things? I can’t imagine Jess Brown, Simone LeBlanc or  Erica Tanov deal with singing plastic hideousness, what is your secret???? (these are my lifestyle crushes in you are unfamiliar 🙂 )

2018 Started out better than 2017 ended though. We had to cancel our vegetarian new years brunch due to a kid with a horrifically high fever, but soon after we jumped in the car and found ourselves in an amazing coniferous forest filled with emerald moss, eggplant bark, rusty needles, and the most amazing trees I’d ever seen. I didn’t realize this was a bucket list item for me, but it totally was. If you haven’t been, go, go now!  The kids loved it too. Don’t get me wrong there was a fair share of four-year old complaining, but once we discovered the trees and gave them the space to actually play amongst them Missy’s daughter screamed out “there’s so much to do here!” while running in and out of a hollowed tree. We might be doing something right after all. Fingers crossed.


I felt incredibly small standing next to these ginormous beings. Standing there looking up I couldn’t help but be perplexed that my small self could have a greater and devastating impact on the environment to the point of harm of these spectacles. That hardly seems right and fair. It really put into perspective how important it is to change. I’ve gotten so many questions about whether or not I will continue on this journey and honestly there is no way I could ever go back. I will never shop the same, or eat without consideration of the journey but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I learned so much last year and feel I can only go forward from here. We plan to continue our 2017 resolutions but take them a bit farther and continue to add to them. For example  instead of just giving up beef I am becoming a ceremonial omnivore. I am only eating meat on special occasions and exploring the world of vegan cuisine. The native people didn’t eat meat everyday and neither should we.

More items to tackle in 2018:

Finally build that curated closet, once my waistline goes back to normal of course 🙂

Putting all the investment research to play, and donating to more organizations that are truly doing their part in action and education.

Getting more political. This I am least excited about, but last year I learned this is the most important one, so alas here I come.

Continue to instill these values in my kids. This may be the most important one.

Hold my community accountable. Why are the public schools not composting? Why are there only trash receptacles at the park? Why are some places still giving out plastic bags? Come on, we call ourselves a “green city” but really??

Shop less, but when I do shop shop small. Period.

Make this process more beautiful. Being more ecologically minded doesn’t have to be granola and frankly it won’t appeal to the masses if it is. How can I make these everyday small steps be Pinterest ready? If its beautiful more people will join in. #jarporn

And the list will keep growing and growing. In 2018 we must keep moving, time is running out. Will you makes some changes for the better this year? Will you join us? You don’t have to make your own laundry soap, but maybe instead of buying Tide in plastic you can change to something eco-friendly in cardboard? Or even better hit up the bulk section? If we all make small changes it makes a big difference, don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Please.

Power Trip

Myth: Solar and an electric vehicle would be expensive, unrealistic, unattainable, for people with a lot of cash. Solar and an electric vehicle will need to be part of our household’s “five-year plan.”

Fact: Tesla is drawing up solar plans on my house for me to approve this week and install next month. I traded in the mini van for a LEAF. I’ve paid no cash up front and I WILL BE SAVING SO MUCH MONEY. Oh yeah, and the planet, too.  Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Like all good resolutions, I’m going to admit I’ve outgrown mine from 2017. No need to laugh and jump and shout, “I told you so!” just yet. I’m not retiring my resolutions. But rather, the act of embarking upon them has brought me farther than any other resolution has ever carried me before. They need a tune up, because I know how to get more milage out of them. Continue reading