On Tuesday morning The Sierra Club announced a new initiative in Ohio that will highlight U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s history of voting against clean air and children’s health by opposing the Clean Power Plan [CPP].
With more than 2.4 million members and supporters, the Sierra Club calls itself America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Officials on the call, including Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, Peggy Ann Berry, Registered Nurse and Samantha Allen, Ohio Sierra Club’s Federal Policy Coordinator, urged Sen. Portman, Ohio’s junior U.S. Senator first elected in 2010 and up for election next year, to start putting people before polluters and sign-on to the the Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan would set the first limits on dangerous carbon pollution from power plants as an action step to reduced increased asthma attacks for Ohioans and all Americans by reducing carbon pollution, the leading cause of climate disruption.
The call with reporters was in advance of the launch of a high six figure television and digital ad campaign to begin September 8th on Ohio broadcast television and news outlets in the greater Cleveland metropolitan area, and will continue through the end of the month, a media release said. The ads will highlight how Sen. Portman’s “irresponsible votes against the CPP have aligned him with polluters who are trying to dismantle clean air safeguards that protect public health and have helped expand the clean energy economy. The ads urge Senator Portman to stop putting polluter profits above public health and safety.”
Mary Anne Hitt, the Sierra Club’s Director for its “Beyond Coal Campaign,” told reporters Ohio’s economy can benefit from the Clean Power Plan. “It’s the single biggest step any president has taken to curb dangerous carbon pollution,” she said, noting it could prevent as many as 3,600 premature deaths every year and up to $34 billion in national savings. “It’s the tip of the iceberg ,” she said, as President Obama was in Alaska visiting icebergs that are shrinking dramatically, as researchers using scientific methods have proved. Hitt said getting on-board with the plan can “kick-start Ohio’s clean energy economy into high gear” as clean energy jobs skyrocket. The flexible plan, she said, “makes sense … allowing each state to chart their own course to embrace clean energy opportunities.” Hitt noted a poll in August found a majority of Ohioans back the CPP.
The ad campaign in Ohio, officials said, is part of a larger effort by four of the nation’s leading environmental and conservation groups, including Environmental Defense Fund Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club. Other groups will run similar ad campaigns in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The CPP is designed to cut carbon pollution from power plants 32 percent by 2030. The plan will help avoid 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children and deliver total health benefits of $14 billion to $34 billion in 2030 to the American people, according to the EPA. In addition, average electric utility bills for consumers are projected to decline by more than $80 per year when the Clean Power Plan is fully implemented.
Peggy Ann Berry, a registered occupational health nurse from Dayton who moved to Ohio in 1988, told reporters 78,000 school-age children missed school or work due to asthama and that ten people die each day from asthma. Berry said she doesn’t work for a hospital.
Sen. Portman, who’s been spending big as have his allies to tarnish his possible Democratic challenger, former Gov. Ted Strickland, finds himself in a dead-heat race with Strickland even though he’s been in office for five years already, while Strickland has been out of office for the same time.
Senator Portman has taken $1,055,154 from polluters, officials on the call today said. He has repeatedly voted to undermine public health and clean air protections, putting the health and safety of Ohio families in jeopardy, they added.
In March, Senator Portman introduced an amendment that would enable states to completely skirt the protections of the Clean Power Plan. Previously, he voted in favor of a blanket proposal to prevent any safeguards to reign in unlimited carbon pollution. He has also voted in favor of a separate proposal to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing any protections against carbon pollution.
Samantha Allen, Federal Policy Coordinator for Ohio Sierra Club, said carbon pollution is the single biggest driver of climate change, noting Ohio farmers are also at risk with increased risk as carbon pollution harms their crops. She said the CPP will reduce energy bills and put more people to work. She reminded reporters that Ohio, under Gov. John Kasich, who’s now among the 17 or so GOP presidential hopefuls, became the first state in the nation to freeze renewable energy standards that were brokered in a bi-partisan fashion under Gov. Strickland. About 2,000 wind-related manufacturing jobs are now exist in Ohio, which also happens to be a leader in alternate energy jobs.
Among its services, the Sierra Club helps people from all backgrounds explore nature and the great outdoors. The Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of communities, protect wildlife, and preserve remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action, according to the group’s front window mission statement.