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Broad Coalition Defends Clean Power Plan

Pennsylvania's clean energy sector employs more than 57,000 people at 4,200 businesses. (USDA/Wikimedia Commons)
Pennsylvania's clean energy sector employs more than 57,000 people at 4,200 businesses. (USDA/Wikimedia Commons)
April 4, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Business and religious leaders, health groups and elected officials have joined together to defend the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.

The plan to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by some members of the energy industry and 27 states.

On Friday a broad coalition of groups filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, defending the plan.

Janice Nolen, assistant vice president for national policy for the American Lung Association, says meeting the goals would do more than reduce carbon emissions.

"Cleaning up these power plants will also reduce other pollutants that we've been trying to get a handle on for years that can worsen human health and shorten lives," she point out.

The EPA estimates that the Clean Power Plan would provide up to $54 billion a year in climate and health benefits by 2030.

Opponents of the plan say it would hurt the economies of coal producing states.

But Sharon Pillar, elected president of the Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania, calls the plan a jobs incubator.

She cites a 2014 report showing 57,000 people in the state were employed in clean energy industries.

"A large portion of those are working in energy efficiency, but also in renewable energy, manufacturing, smart-grid technology, even financing and legal firms," she states.

Pillar says more that 4,200 Pennsylvania businesses are already involved in the clean-energy sector.

A recent survey found that 70 percent of utility executives want the Clean Power Plan goals to stay in place or be strengthened.

While the plan may be good for business, Ron Busby, president of U.S. Black Chambers, says it's not just about the bottom line.

"This is the only Earth that we have and we want to make sure that our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have the same opportunity to be able to have a good lifestyle here,” he stresses.

Oral arguments in the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington are scheduled for June 2.


Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA