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Peter Getty is a philanthropist and contributing blogger for the Huffington Post. His work and writings revolve around environmental issues. Getty's philanthropic initiatives, as well as the organizations he supports, are committed to protecting the environment and spreading environmental awareness.

The Broad Stroke of the EPA: Futuristic-Not Fatalistic

peter getty obamaPresident Obama unveiled his new EPA rules on coal fueled power plants, which if implemented may just be the major tentpole of this president’s legacy.  Though many Americans aren’t clamoring for environmental restrictions in light of other domestic issues, there is a strong segment of the country that has criticized the president for not paying enough attention to global warming.

New restrictions proposed for the coal industry will greatly reduce carbon pollution and help to accelerate renewable energy sources, which is expected to increase fuel-economy standards over the next 30 years or so.  That is, if the bill gets by the Republicans.  With a looming election likely to put the GOP in charge of the House and the Senate, it’s likely they could block the bill.

Looking back to April’s Supreme Court Ruling in favor of the EPA, however, offers a glimpse of hope.  The agency had a huge win, with the Supreme Court approving their right to regulate pollutants like arsenic and mercury in the coal industry.  Obama is surely hoping for some momentum from that decision, something that could help him to take the decisive action to broaden the powers of the EPA to reasonable standards.

Paul Krugman noted that the cost and loss of jobs over the next decades, in light of the benefits are to be had, are absolutely minimal.  Opponents of the bill speak as if it is specifically designed to close coal plants, which is patently untrue.  Under the guidelines of the bill, Americans could be incentivized to weatherize homes, to switch to cleaner fuels, and to save the environment…potentially from disaster.

Reducing pollutants doesn’t have to harm economic growth, as many on the right would have us believe.  In fact, there are ways in which making this switch to cleaner energy sources now could have an overall beneficial impact on the economy.  It’s important that we don’t allow fear to prevent us from progress like this.  Public and private companies are more and more committing to solar energy, more energy efficiency, and strengthening standards because it’s good for business.

Obama hopes to provide solar energy to over 100,000 homes, which is the equivalent of removing 80 million cars from the road in terms of emissions.  Businesses will save over $25 billion on their utility bills.

The fact of the matter is that we can’t afford to wait any longer to make changes designed to help the environment.  The risk is too great, since there could be a point when the planet cannot be saved.  Sustaining it, protecting it, must be a priority.