Uranium mining has left a legacy of disastrous pollution in the West, and now mining poses a risk to the Grand Canyon – one of our greatest national parks. Thousands of new mining claims threaten to destroy the canyon’s stunning landscape and pollute the Colorado River, according to this new report.
America’s dependence on oil inflicts a heavy toll on our environment. There are many technologies and policy tools, however, that can curb America’s dependence on oil. By taking strong action to cut down on energy waste and shift to cleaner sources of energy, America could reduce its consumption of oil for energy by 1.9 billion barrels of oil per year by 2030—31 percent of today’s oil use— while achieving President Obama’s goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and putting the nation on track to ending its dependence on oil.
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.
Environment America Research & Policy Center
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