Via the Orlando Sentinel:
I’m the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, co-founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many people forget that King advocated for poor families, regardless of their race or religion, and I believe that he would find it troubling today to see that millions of Americans are still struggling to find financial security.
As if these everyday realities weren’t enough, families may soon face an unexpected jump in their monthly utility bills. That’s because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new energy regulations as a step toward addressing climate change. Specifically, the EPA wants to curb carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants, and wants governors across the country to close the coal-fired plants in their states.
This is not a climate issue. Instead, what’s at stake is access to affordable power, especially for the most vulnerable segments of society. Paying for electricity is not a discretionary expense. The poor and the elderly on fixed incomes already pay an outsized portion of their limited budgets in order to have heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. And they already have fewer dollars to pay for these necessities.
I understand the intentions of the EPA plan, but we already have it within our power to move toward a cleaner environment without causing harm to lower-income Americans. Advanced technologies are already helping us to achieve lower emissions. And U.S. power plants are already far cleaner than factories and power plants in Asia.
We can get to a cleaner environment without victimizing those who are already struggling financially. And so, before the EPA adopts these measures, it should think twice about pursuing extreme rules that could bring great pain to hard-working, everyday Americans.
Charles Steele Jr. is president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil-rights organization co-founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
See the article here.
- On July 6, 2015