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Coalition Calls for Climate Change on Presidential Debate Agenda

September 27, 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa. - When the first presidential debate takes place next week, a coalition of environmental and health groups wants to make sure Pennsylvanians and voters nationwide hear what the candidates have to say about climate change and their plans for curbing carbon pollution if elected.

Debate moderator Jim Lehrer today will receive 120,000 petition signatures, signed by people who think President Obama and Mitt Romney should clarify their positions on climate change and their ideas for dealing with it. Mike Palamuso, senior vice president for communications at the League of Conservation Voters, explains.

"Many voters are going to be tuning into this presidential race for the first time during these debates, so even if these candidates are discussing these issues on the campaign trail, it's important for this to be front and center on this national stage during this first presidential debate."

Palamuso says this is not just about hearing a candidate say he believes or doesn't believe in climate change. He says bringing the topic up for discussion should also address using new energy technologies to tackle climate change head on.

"It means ending our dependence on dirty sources of energy and bringing good-paying jobs back to the U.S.: Building wind turbines, installing solar panels - types of technologies that will then also reduce global-warming pollution."

Palamuso calls carbon polluters such as coal-burning power plants major public health hazards, which some experts say are linked to heart attacks, strokes and asthma.

Some of the debate topics already revealed lean heavily toward the economy. The groups involved are hopeful that the sheer volume of petition signatures will sway debate organizers to add climate change into the mix.

The debate, which will focus entirely on domestic issues, will be held Oct. 3 in Denver. Petitions urging the climate-change question were collected by the League of Conservation Voters, along with the National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, the Climate Reality Project and the group MomsRising.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA