EPA: Please regulate carbon dioxide emssions

Text of my testimony before the EPA yesterday (July 30, 2014):

Good afternoon.  My name is Ross Cunniff.  I am a Fort Collins City Council member, but I am speaking only on my own behalf today.

My father was born and raised in Colorado.  Although he left Colorado to serve in the US Army, we returned frequently in the 1960s and 1970s to visit our family here.  I have vivid memories of Colorado from those days.  I remember startling blue skies, fast-running mountain streams, tree-covered hillsides, and snow-capped mountain-tops.  My wife and I moved to Colorado in 1987 to raise our family.  Although many more people lived here by then, the character of the state was much the same as I remembered, and we delighted in sharing it with our daughters as they grew up.

However, the past decade has seen significant change for the worse.  Colorado is not the same as it was when I was growing up.  The view of the Front Range is frequently obscured by haze.  The mountains are not snow-capped nearly as often as they used to be.  Glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park have receded.  The forests have been devastated, first by the infestation of pine beetles, and then by wildfires.  Drought has alternated with severe flooding, the impacts of which are made worse by the newly barren hillsides.  And diseases like West Nile are now present in Colorado, where they never were before.

All of these impacts are related to the significantly warmer climate.  The proof is in the numbers.  The frequency and duration of record-breaking heat waves has increased dramatically.  Not only that, but the intensity and length of cold spells has decreased.  This has directly impacted our watershed, and has led to the spread of warmer-weather insects, parasites, and diseases which would not have survived the winters of the past.

This is not a natural disaster, or something that is “just happening” to us.  People are the direct cause of this rapid climate change.  Our carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase, creating an invisible blanket around the planet which keeps heat from escaping into space.

On the Fort Collins City Council, we spend significant time and money dealing with the effects of climate change.  We had to add new water treatment stages to deal with ash from the 2012 High Park fire.  We, along with most communities in Larimer County, are still working to recover from the 2013 flash floods.  We spend time, energy, and money on policies and procedures regarding West Nile Virus in our community.  Although we have an aggressive climate action plan, we understand that we only control a small part of the United States’ carbon dioxide production.

This is why we need the federal government to help.  We need to act together as a united country, and rapidly and dramatically reduce our production of carbon dioxide.  Coal-fired power plants are the biggest single producers of CO2.  The proposed EPA regulations are a necessary start to our action.

My wife and I recently discovered that we are soon to become grandparents.  This has made my resolve to address climate change that much more passionate.  I want my grandchildren - and all our grandchildren - to enjoy the same beautiful Earth that we enjoyed.  Please act to help make that happen.

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