Citizens Storm Jefferson City on Earth Day to Demand Clean Air and Clean Jobs
Faith, Health, Business and Environmental Advocates Launch Missouri Clean Energy Coalition
Advocates from across Missouri rallied in the Jefferson City Capitol Rotunda today to urge public officials to take action on climate disruption by growing the state’s clean energy economy. The rally also served as the official launch of the Missouri Clean Energy Coalition, which will aim to build smart policies to cut carbon pollution and prioritize the growth of local job-creating renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“Missouri’s health and economy will continue to be hit hard by climate disruption, which is why our state should seize the opportunity to be part of the solution,” said Representative Clem Smith. “ By investing in clean energy, we can create thousands of local jobs, bring new businesses to Missouri, and boost economic development in urban and rural communities alike.”
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced the Clean Power Plan, giving states the opportunity to create plans to cut carbon pollution and grow clean energy jobs. In late 2014, 14 Missouri organizations representing more than 70,000 Missourians delivered more than 7,000 comments to Senator Claire McCaskill supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. An overwhelming 77 percent of Missourians favor limiting carbon pollution according to a poll released in late 2014 by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Mertz & Associates.
Missouri is in the midst of creating its own state energy plan, and will soon craft a state strategy to cut carbon emissions from power plants. Missouri’s clean energy economy currently supports 4,400 businesses that employ 40,000 people according to the Clean Jobs Missouri report, recently released from Environmental Entrepreneurs and the Missouri Energy Initiative. The report also predicts our clean energy economy will grow by 7 percent in 2015, and could grow even faster with the right public policies.
“Clean energy puts Missourians to work. Small businesses make up the majority – nearly 54 percent – of Missouri companies operating in the clean energy space,” said Caleb Arthur, Founder and CEO of Missouri Sun Solar and Vice-President of MOSEIA. “If we’re looking to keep our economy thriving in Missouri, that means that we must create business-friendly policies so cutting edge clean energy companies can continue to invest and create jobs here.”
Despite a strong clean energy economy, Missouri continues to lag behind neighboring states like Illinois and Iowa when it comes to generating clean, renewable energy. Missouri is still largely dependent on an aging fleet of coal-fired power plants, marring air quality and contributing to high rates of asthma.
“From cleaning up our air to creating jobs, we have every reason to start modernizing the way we get our power,” said Carolyn Amparan, Sierra Club Group Chair, Columbia resident, and local grandmother. “There’s no reason Missouri should be lagging in the transition from coal to clean energy.”
In 2011, 11 of the 14 U.S. weather-related disasters with damages exceeding $1 billion occurred in the Midwest, according to the National Climate Assessment (NCA) released last year by the White House. The assessment also predicted that Missouri extreme weather and changing climate patterns will affect the region’s agricultural economy and create high costs associated with cleaning up climate-related weather disasters.
Missouri will also see dramatically more days over 100 degrees. Dirty air and hotter days are a dangerous combination for asthmatics, children and the elderly. Cities like St. Louis and Kansas City, where there are already high rates of asthma, will be particularly hard hit.
“We have a moral obligation to protect our air, water and climate for current and future generations,” said Kate Lovelady, Leader, Ethical Society St. Louis. “As we work to build a better future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, these efforts must include ensuring good jobs and economic vitality in diverse Missouri communities so families can grow and thrive.”
The Missouri Clean Energy Coalition (MCEC) mission is to grow Missouri’s clean and renewable energy economy to reduce fossil fuel pollution, address climate change and create jobs now. MCEC members and supporters include the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Sierra Club, Renew Missouri, Jewish Environmental Initiative, a committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, Missouri Interfaith Power & Light, Ethical Society of St. Louis, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks/Missourians for Safe Energy, Labadie Environmental Organization, Union of Concerned Scientists, Central Reform Congregation, Earthdance Farms, Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, Missouri ProVote, League of Women Voters, St. Louis Chapter, Diesel Health Project, Populists in Action, 350KC, M-SLICE, Organizing for Action (OFA) Climate Team, Progress Missouri, Franciscan Sisters of Mary, Climate Reality St. Louis, State Senator Jill Schupp, State Representative Stacey Newman, State Representative Margo McNeil, State Representative Jeanne Kirkton, State Representative Tracy McCreery, State Representative Deb Lavender, State Representative Judy Morgan.
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