Dear Mr. President,
I was hoping to get a jump on this Earth Day letter during the weekend, but I fell behind because of water in my basement. Torrential rains the past few days soaked the ground so much, the water had nowhere else to go. Of course, April showers are not unusual where I live in the Midwest; the problem is that right now, I don’t have enough trees and bushes to absorb them. And that’s the unusual thing. Those plants died, weak and thirsty, during an epic drought last summer--the hottest year on record. Now their absence is taking a toll.
I shouldn’t complain, though: 1,000 miles to the west, my family in Colorado experienced a true drought (and climate change-related) disaster last summer, as wildfires consumed entire communities and choked the air for hundreds of miles. Last fall, 1,000 miles to the east, my family in New Jersey bailed out their entire homes after Hurricane Sandy tore down the Jersey Shore.
Yeah, these are anecdotes. But the pattern is clear. The climate is changing, and weird weather is just one manifestation of it. This is linked to carbon dioxide emissions, as study after study has shown. So why aren’t you doing anything about it? You could--you have repeatedly said you would--but you’re not.
As the New Yorker put it recently, the phrase “climate change” appears 29 times in the new budget--“but there is no new plan for Congress to take up in your ambitious legislative blueprint.” Do you need an invitation? Just in case, here is a list to get you started.1. Regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Power plants contribute one-third of this country’s greenhouse gases, so this is a good place to start. You don’t need Congress to do this. The Supreme Court has held several times that the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate greenhouse gases, and that means you can control carbon dioxide emissions without passing any new laws. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA can work with states to develop new standards for curbing emissions at existing power plants.