Ken Ward’s Testimony on EPA Carbon Regulations TODAY

Ken Ward outside the Environmental Protection Agency

Today Ken testified at 350PM on the EPA’s proposed regulations from coal fired power plants. Below is his testimony. -Jay

Comments on EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan and Carbon Pollution Standard for Modified Sources Rule, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Kenneth Ward

July 30, 2014
Washington, DC

Mister Chairman, my name is Kenneth Ward and I live in Corbett, Oregon. I speak for myself.Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the EPA’s proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

When my fourteen year old son asked me why I was traveling from Oregon to Washington, DC to speak for 5 minutes, I gave him a pat answer about the importance of civic participation (and I don’t think he bought my Mr. Smith-goes-to-Washington, civic duty spiel).

But the real reason, is that I am scared. I am scared that this is a singular moment when my boy’s future will be decided and the fate of the world determined and I think the wrong choices are being made.

As one individual, I can’t do much to influence the vast powers at play here, but I can speak of obvious truths that are being glossed over in this proposal and, I believe, in President Obama’s handling of climate change.

The challenge before us is often compared with the US effort in World War 11. This is a useful in helping to imagine the kind of effort required for a society to survive, but also problematic, because America did very little to prepare for the conflict.

After Pearl Harbor however, the nation moved with incredible speed. The US went to war on December 7, 1941. Sales of private automobiles, which were 3 million that year, were frozen on Jan 1, 1942 and all auto manufacturing shifted to wartime production by February.

That’s less than two months to completely shift the largest industrial operation in the nation.

We should be moving from coal to renewables and efficiency with that kind of speed and determination, because we’ve already had our Pearl Harbor.

In May, a month before this proposed rule was issued, NASA’s Eric Rignot and colleagues and a independent group at the University of Washington reported that the West Antarctic ice shelf is now in “unstoppable” collapse.

By itself that it staggering news, equating to 4 feet of sea level rise, but more profoundly, it shatters any notion that climate change is some moderate, far off threat. The worst case is happening and happening at a speed that not even our most worried experts imagined

When Jim Hansen first pointed out that ice sheet collapse might be rapid and non-linear – in “A Slippery Slope”, published in 2004 – he thought this would occur “on the order of centuries, not millennia,” but it turns out to be a matter of decades, possibly years.

In the EPA rule, supporting documents and public statements, there is a single reference to this terrible reality — Administrator McCarthy’s comment that “If we do nothing… temperatures could rise 10 degrees and seas could rise by 4 feet.”

But nothing in the proposed rule or the “All of the Above” energy policy it is presented within, in any way addresses this risk.

• We need to immediately stop burning coal and keep it in the ground; but this plan aims for 30% of our electricity to come from coal through 2030.

• We need an swift and dramatic shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables; but this plan aims for 60% reliance on fossil fuels and is far more focused on promoting nuclear power than solar and wind.

• We need to mobilize a nation; but this plan dumbs down risk and promises to solve the problem.

I don’t believe those who say that the President is cynically avoiding a tough political fight or advancing this interest or that.

I think that the President is in a very tough bind, facing a determined opposition which is still able to focus the debate on whether there is any such thing as climate change, as Sen. Inhofe did yesterday (deftly disected by my home state Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse).

This plan was crafted to win in tough political conditions and it is certainly a masterful political proposal — a hat trick that managed to mute opposition (with moves like pegging the reference year at 2005 rather than 2012), further isolate the total denial crowd by its very reasonableness, and still have environmentalists calling it “bold” and “courageous.”

But winning at the cost of the truth isn’t worth it and won’t work in the long run.The problem with this plan can be summed up in three points:

• The plan is presented as a step toward meeting the US commitment made in Cancun.

• The Cancun pledges, even if met, are consistent with scenarios reaching 550 ppm atmospheric carbon.

• Climate systems are in free fall now at 400 ppm, heading with unbelievable speed toward conditions in which global eco-systems must collapse and civilization cannot be sustained.

This plan is frivolous in comparison to what needs to be done.

If this is the best that US political conditions allow, than we will, in fact, condemn this generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.

But we are better than that.

I urge that this rule be withdrawn. In its place, the President should present a graver, franker explanation of the fix we are in and put forward a serious plan of action.

In the words of President Lincoln, “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present… We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” December 1, 1862

The time slot I was assigned today was 3:50 pm, which seemed appropriate, as that is the number we should be shooting for, or lower.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.​

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