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September 10, 2015

In Climate Action Roundtable with Maine Doctor, King Calls Clean Power Plan “Important Step” Forward

Maine Medical Center Doctor also spoke in favor of the plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) participated in a Senate Climate Action Task Force roundtable discussion where he again expressed support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan and emphasized the need to act on climate change. In his remarks, Senator King, a member of the Task Force, called the Clean Power Plan “an important step” in the fight against climate change and applauded its flexible approach to reducing carbon emissions by setting the overall goals but delegating authority to the states to decide how to achieve those goals.

“For the life of me, I don’t understand why this is a partisan, political, controversial issue. This is simply science. Nobody is going to the floor of the United States Senate and trying to repeal the fact that light travels at 186,000 miles per second. The correlation between temperature and CO2 is well established,” Senator King said. “[…] Will [the Clean Power Plan] totally solve the problem? Of course not. But the only way to tackle a problem like this is in bite size chunks and this is a very important step. The thing I like about the Clean Power Plan is that it says here’s our goal, but the states, and the industries in those states, have to figure out how to get there – and I think that’s a much better approach than Washington trying to decide. I think that is a very important, but somewhat overlooked, characteristic of this plan and how it’s been developed.”

The event, which was held in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee room, featured business leaders, elected officials, public health experts, and sportsmen from across the country who are visiting Capitol Hill this week to voice their support for the Clean Power Plan. Dr. Tony Owens, an emergency medical physician at Maine Medical Center in Portland, also participated in the discussion and shared his support for the plan based on his perspective as a public health expert.  

“As a physician with four decades of experience, I’m seeing shifts in diseases directly attributable to these changes [in climate]. I screen patients on a daily basis for tick-borne illnesses that I had never heard of when my practice began […]. Mosquito-borne illnesses are also on the rise as well, spreading a new wave of deadly viruses,” said Dr. Owens. “Let me conclude with a medical metaphor: our patient’s climate is currently on life support. Climate change isn’t coming soon – it’s here now, and I’ve given you real and current examples of its impact. You are the elected stewards of this patient – our planet – doctors, if you will. A prescription to help your patient has been written:  a clean power plan. I want to know – we want to know, our children and your children want to know, my grandchildren and your grandchildren will want to know – did you fill that prescription for your patient, or did you turn your back, hang your head, and walk away?”

Senator King, a member of the Senate Climate Action Task Force and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has previously applauded the Clean Power Plan’s goals to combat climate change and help transition the country toward clean, renewable energy sources. According to the EPA, the Clean Power Plan will reduce carbon pollution from the power sector 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, preventing up to 3,600 premature deaths and 300,000 missed work and school days, and causing 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children.

Also attending today’s event were Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and also speaking were Smuttynose Brewery President Peter Egelston of New Hampshire, Montana Wildlife Federation Executive Director Dave Chadwick, and Eagle County Commissioner Jill Ryan of Colorado.                      

Senator King’s remarks are available HERE, and Dr. Owens’s remarks are available HERE.


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