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Sen. Donnelly: lead on clean air and energy

| Monday, April 20, 2015

Across the country, states and communities are moving toward safer, healthier futures by embracing clean energy solutions as they transition away from old, dirty power plants. States like Michigan and Ohio are national leaders in the growing solar industry, and communities here in Indiana are rallying to protect clean air and clean water from dangerous power plant pollution.

We know the consequences of continuing to burn dirty fuels such as coal. From asthma attacks to emergency room visits, Hoosiers are acutely aware of the public health threats posed by pollution from dirty, outdated power plants. Some 650,000 Hoosiers suffer from asthma, and one person dies from asthma every five days in Indiana. Ask doctors and school nurses right here in South Bend and they’ll tell you Hoosier lungs need to be protected from air pollution. Our state needs strong smog standards.

We can also see power plant pollution’s impact on our climate. Carbon pollution from power plants causes climate disruption and is already threatening Indiana communities. Just a few short years ago, Hoosier farmers lost millions of dollars in crops due to severe drought. Residents in Kokomo battled the worst flood on record in 2013. The threats of climate disruption will continue to grow worse unless we act to protect our health, our economy and our communities here at home.

This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will finalize the first-ever national protections from dangerous carbon pollution of existing power plants, as well as a number of other critical clean air and clean water safeguards. These new standards will clean up the industries that create the lion’s share of carbon pollution in our country and will also help reduce other life-threatening air pollution including mercury, soot and smog.

As students at one of our nation’s great Roman Catholic universities, we are compelled by our faith to protect God’s good gifts and all of creation. We are inspired by Pope Francis, who this year will publish an encyclical on climate change. We must protect all God’s creation by limiting dangerous carbon pollution and other pollutants which threaten our air and water, our health and our climate.

With enormous clean energy potential here at home, we know transitioning to clean energy is good for jobs, for our communities and for our health. Look across Indiana, and you’ll find churches and congregations saving money on energy bills through solar and energy efficiency, new businesses that are employing Hoosier workers in emerging technologies and schools that are better able to invest in their students by reducing energy waste. These investments are saving money and creating new job opportunities, especially for young people like us looking to get into these growing industries once we graduate.

Sen. Donnelly, now more than ever, we need your leadership in Indiana to protect our health, our climate, clean air and water both now and for future generations of Hoosiers. We have the solutions we need. As our senator, you must stand with Hoosiers across the state, including students here at Notre Dame, pastors and faith leaders, doctors and nurses and many more, in supporting a stronger, healthier future for Indiana that includes cleaner air and water and more jobs to benefit our communities.

Katie Otterbeck

Garrett Blad

Founders of Fossil Free ND

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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