Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sierra Club Panel Discussion for the Beyond Coal Campaign

Yesterday, the Sierra Club sponsored a panel discussion at a venue near the EPA hearing to educate Oklahomans about the effects of coal pollution. I served as one of the panelists. Below are my remarks at the panel discussion:

I am in favor of the EPA’s plan for implementing the Clean Air Act in Oklahoma for four reasons. Those reasons are religious, humanitarian, ecological and economic.

Religiously, I am a Baptist minister. As a Christian I believe that we are to be responsible stewards and caregivers of all that God created. Nothing connected with the mining and burning of coal is associated with responsible stewardship. Coal mining destroys mountainsides and pollutes the water at a time when clean water is becoming an increasingly precious resource.

For humanitarian reasons I am opposed to using coal to generate power because it fills the air with mercury, sulfur and particulates. These pollutants are bad for everyone’s health and are particularly dangerous for people with asthma, heart disease and lung diseases. 100,000 children in Oklahoma have asthma. 365,000 adults in Oklahoma have asthma. A lot of families in Oklahoma have at least one member of their family with the condition. My family is no exception. My wife has asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. Pollution from coal aggravates all of these conditions. That means that the quality of the air we breathe is of utmost importance to me and my family.

We owe our wives, our children and our grandchildren the cleanest air and water that we can give them. They deserve nothing less than the very best. That will require that we exercise the greatest caution in using sources of energy that will poison our planet.

Ecologically, I am opposed to burning coal to generate power because the same pollutants that are bad for human health are bad for plants, animals, and the entire planet. Coal fired power plants are a major source of the carbon dioxide that is causing the global warming that is melting the ice caps and changing weather patterns all over the world.

Economically, I am opposed to spending nearly a half-billion dollars every year to purchase coal from other states when we have cleaner, cheaper and healthier sources of energy in abundant supply right here in Oklahoma. Natural gas, wind and solar are abundant in Oklahoma. They represent the energy sources of the future. It is time to retire or retrofit our coal fired power plants.

I strongly encourage each of you to speak at the EPA hearing. Tell our state leaders and Oklahoma’s power companies that we want them to make the transition away from coal and toward cleaner sources of energy as soon as possible. Our health and the health of our families depends on it.

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