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Rally urges elected officials to support Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Holding ice cream cones that melted in Thursday’s heat like globally warmed glaciers, about 100 people rallied in the plaza of the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown, in support of federal efforts to reduce carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants.

The rally, organized by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Sierra Club, was both a celebration of the steps that the Obama administration has taken to address climate change and a nudge to encourage Pennsylvania’s elected officials to show support for the Clean Power Plan regulations, expected to be announced Monday.

“As a grandfather of five, I call on fellow Pennsylvanians, particularly parents and grandparents, to demand that our government at all levels be agents of energy change so our children will not be victims of climate change,” said Larry Schweiger, president of PennFuture, a statewide environmental advocacy organization.

Advocates from PennEnvironment, Moms Clean Air Force, Interfaith Power and Light, and the Sierra Club also spoke in support of the Clean Power Plan, which will set state-by-state targets to cut coal power plant emissions of greenhouse gases by up to 30 percent.

A recurring theme of the speakers was climate change’s impact on human health.

“Beyond just policy and legislation, it’s … health,” said Valessa Souter-Kline, Western Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for PennFuture.

The EPA announced in 2014 that it would establish a plan to reduce carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants and other coal-burning facilities by an average of 30 percent. The plan will require states to submit initial compliance plans by Sept. 6, 2016.

Although the coal industry and Republicans in Congress have pushed back against the plan, calling it part of the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” many states, including Pennsylvania, have already started to reduce carbon emissions as utilities replace or convert old and inefficient coal plants to natural gas.

In related news, EPA is asking for comments on the new Clean Power Plan proposal.

This article was written by Hannah Schwarz from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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