The Northeast faces two fundamental and intertwined challenges: fossil fuel dependence and pollution from fossil fuels. Our dependence on coal, oil, and gas imposes economic costs, pollutes our air and water, and harms public health. It also contributes to global warming, which threatens the future of our coastal cities with sea-level rise, the future of our beloved ecosystems with the loss of habitats and species, and the well-being of our people with extreme weather events and new threats to public health.
Rapidly rising gas prices across the country are shining a spotlight on the dire consequences of America’s dependence on oil. Our continued use of oil puts our environment, our health, and our national security at risk, and with prices across the country exceeding $4 per gallon, it is putting an incredible burden on our economy and on American families. Whether we consider these prices at the pump, the scars left by the oil spill disaster in the Gulf, the billion dollars that we send overseas every day, or the nearly 2 billion metric tons of global warming pollution that our oil consumption pumps into the air each year, it has become clear that we must break our dependence on oil.
Dirty energy pollutes the air we breathe, threatening our health and our environment. When power plants burn coal, oil or gas, they create the ingredients for ground-level ozone pollution, one of the main components of “smog” pollution. Especially on hot summer days, across wide areas of the United States, ozone pollution reaches levels that are unhealthy to breathe, putting our lives at risk. In 2009, U.S. power plants emitted more than 1.9 million tons of ozone-forming nitrogen oxide pollution into the air. In order to better protect public health, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should issue a new air quality standard to reduce ground-level ozone pollution.
The agribusiness lobby is well known as one of the most powerful in Washington, D.C., and many states. Less well known is the fact that big agribusiness interests are among the biggest roadblocks to cleaner water for the American people.
The Atlantic states are uniquely positioned to forge a clean, independent energy future. The region’s current dependence on fossil fuels has far-reaching and devastating impacts —– affecting residents’ health, draining their pocketbooks, causing air and water pollution, and warming the planet. Many Atlantic states have already become leaders in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that create jobs, lower energy costs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels. These efforts will greatly benefit people and wildlife for generations to come.
Environment America Research & Policy Center
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Environment America Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.