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EC Cleveland Director Testifies on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

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Emerald Cities Cleveland Director Shanelle Smith testified June 30 at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing on proposed regulations to significantly curb carbon emissions from existing power plants.

She met up with dozens of other Ohioans who had taken buses to Pittsburgh, one of four cities hosting field hearings on the agency’s Clean Power Plan – also known as “111(d),” after the section of the Clean Air Act authoring EPA to set such standards.

Refuting an Ohio state senator who had declared, “We all breathe the same air,” Smith retorted, “We do not. The truth is that 68 percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of coal-fired plants.”

Relating her own experience growing up near a petrochemical plant in Lima, Ohio, where cancer was epidemic, Smith said that before age 30, she endured two bouts of cancer and a bone marrow transplant – “All likely linked to prolonged exposure to air pollution.”

She continued, “By reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants, we can address the disproportionate negative impact of carbon pollution on health and educational outcomes, as well as on the economic wellbeing, of communities of color. “

Don’t Make Us Wait
Too often, Smith said, such situations are not addressed for communities of color, whose citizens continue to breathe unhealthful air and remain vulnerable to climate change-induced severe weather events – as well as to the social isolation that results from exclusion from local policy decisions.

By contrast, she continued, “The Clean Power Plan allows us to prepare for climate change pressure, lesson our energy demand and foster social cohesion. The 111(d) rules also support Emerald Cities’ goal of increasing equity by advancing energy efficiency and expanding job opportunities in the clean energy sector 

“These rules set the stage for energy diversity,” Smith said, “which is directly connected to job creation, consumer protection and economic growth. As a rule, for every $1 million invested in energy efficiency, 21 direct and indirect jobs are created” for electricians, HVAC installers, carpenters and more.

These are what Emerald Cities calls “high road jobs,” Smith explained. They “pay family-sustaining wages, can’t be outsourced, and offer career pathways through union apprenticeship programs.”

She concluded, “The 111(d) regulations afford the nation’s first opportunity to explore the full range of Emerald Cities’ triple bottom line: equity, energy, and the environment.” 

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