Westchester County Press: Climate Change Hurts
This story originally appeared in the Westchester County Press, and was authored by Frank Fraley, President, SHARE NY.
Energy & Environment Corner:
Climate Change is an Existing Health Issue
New York’s most vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt of serious health issues caused in large measure by the air pollutants emitted from fossil fuel power plants. These pollutants have been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including asthma, lung and heart disease.
Worse, beyond the health consequences, power plant emissions are wreaking havoc on our environment. Annual temperatures are hotter, the weather is more erratic and floods are occurring more frequently. This trend was documented yet again by scientific research published last month by The New York City Panel on Climate Change. Unfortunately, New York’s most vulnerable populations, which largely include children, the elderly and minority populations, are most likely to suffer as a result of this pollution. In fact, research from George Mason’s University Center for Climate Change Communication shows that nearly nine in 10 doctors serving the African-American community have seen an increase in chronic illnesses due to air pollution.
Fortunately, there is good news. The production of electricity at Indian Point, a facility that supplies about 25 percent of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County, is emission-free. This is because the facility is powered by nuclear energy, a safe, reliable and clean source of power.
Indian Point critics say it’s not safe. However, for the fifth year in a row, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has awarded the facility its top safety rating. The NRC is able to make this determination as it keeps multiple inspectors on-site every day throughout the year.
Recognizing the benefits of nuclear energy, it’s important that we come together and advocate for the continued operation of this critical facility. If not, research has shown that the impacts on our air quality and health will be felt almost immediately. Specifically, the California Air Resources Board concluded that shutting the San Onofre nuclear power plant was the major factor causing the level of carbon in California’s air to rise by 35 percent in 2012.
Steps to mitigate these impacts have been taken, and we applaud these efforts, but much work remains to be done to ensure cleaner, more reliable and reasonably priced power that does not put harmful emissions in the air. Key elements of this strategy must include alternative fuels and most importantly, the continued availability of nuclear power
from Indian Point.