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Coloradans Go to Washington in Support of Clean Power Plan

Coloradans are among a group that traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to tell Congress the ski industry and public health could be at risk if the Clean Power Plan is not fully implemented. Credit: Zach Dischner/Wikimedia Commons.
Coloradans are among a group that traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to tell Congress the ski industry and public health could be at risk if the Clean Power Plan is not fully implemented. Credit: Zach Dischner/Wikimedia Commons.
September 15, 2015

DENVER - Congressional leaders returning to work last week were greeted by 50 business leaders, elected officials and public health experts from across the nation, all urging support for the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.

Jill Ryan, a commissioner for Eagle County in the heart of Colorado's ski country, was one of them. She told Colorado's delegation the plan is critical for the state's $34 billion recreation economy.

"Living in Colorado, we are already seeing the impact of climate change," says Ryan. "And some climate models show that we might not have enough snowpack to keep ski industries going in this country, if there isn't a significant effort to reduce our carbon emissions."

Several state attorneys general, including Colorado's Cynthia Coffman, have filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency about the plan, claiming the agency has overstepped its authority.

Gov. John Hickenlooper recently sent a letter to U.S. Senate leaders confirming Colorado is moving forward to comply with the plan, despite Coffman's action.

Ryan, a former director with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, reminded congressional leaders that more than money is at stake. EPA estimates show reducing air pollution from power plants could mean 3,600 fewer premature deaths, and 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children.

"We're going to see more extreme weather, more drought, more forest fires," says Ryan. "Public health-wise, people will have more diseases, we'll see more allergies and we have a limited window of opportunity to really address this, before there's really no going back."

Ryan adds she went to D.C. because the plan is expected to come under scrutiny, particularly in the U.S. Senate.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO