Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania residents and business owners are among the 3 million people nationwide who've let the fecderal Environmental Protection Agency know that they support national standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants.
Margie Alt, president of Environment America and chairman of the Green Group, says many people speaking in one voice are sending a powerful message.
"At its core, this is about Americans standing up and saying, 'We really want to see leadership on the issue of carbon pollution and on the issue of climate change here in this country.' "
Supporters of limiting carbon pollution say it contributes to climate change and makes smog pollution worse, triggering asthma attacks and other respiratory problems, especially in children. Companies that burn coal to generate power claim more regulation costs jobs and affects their bottom line, and that they already are working to reduce their pollution output.
Rolf Poeting, who owns two glass-manufacturing companies - Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass - in western Pennsylvania, says his position on the issue comes from a broader platform of doing business with the environment in mind.
"We try to reuse and recycle as much as possible. We do a lot of repacking of glassware, so we try not to throw things out. Obviously, being alive creates pollution; we should at least minimize intelligently the effect we have."
A recent survey by Small Business Majority showed 76 percent of small businesses in Pennsylvania favor an EPA Carbon Pollution Standard for new power plants.
Alt hopes that a tougher carbon-pollution standard for new plants will bring with it a ripple effect.
"Our hope is that in the next year, the administration and EPA will put out a similar rule for existing power plants so we'll be able to tackle that source of power pollution next."
Some economists, including the Economic Policy Institute, have said their research finds that modernizing coal-fired plants drives clean-technology innovation, which in turn creates jobs.
The poll results are online at smallbusinessmajority.org.