In the United States, 49 million Americans receive their drinking water from surface sources located within 50 miles of an active nuclear power plant —inside the boundary the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to assess risk to food and water supplies. Because of the inherent risks of nuclear power, the United States should ensure that all currently operating nuclear power plants are, at the latest, retired at the end of their operating licenses and the nation should move toward cleaner, safer solutions such as energy efficiency and renewable energy for our future energy needs.
The week of Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, when many Americans are hit hard by the economic pain of our dependence on oil. However, if the average passenger vehicle met a 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) standard instead of the current 26.4 mpg standard, Americans would save millions at the gas pump on Thanksgiving travel this year.
America’s dependence on oil inflicts a heavy toll on our environment. There are many technologies and policy tools, however, that can curb America’s dependence on oil. By taking strong action to cut down on energy waste and shift to cleaner sources of energy, America could reduce its consumption of oil for energy by 1.9 billion barrels of oil per year by 2030—31 percent of today’s oil use— while achieving President Obama’s goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and putting the nation on track to ending its dependence on oil.
All Americans should be able to breathe clean air. But pollution from power plants and vehicles puts the health of our nation’s children and families at risk. Ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, is one of the most harmful and one of the most pervasive air pollutants. According to the American Lung Association, nearly half of all Americans – 48 percent – still live in areas with unhealthy levels of smog pollution. Studies show that on days with high concentrations of smog pollution in the air, children and adults suffer more asthma attacks, increased respiratory difficulty, and reduced lung function. Exposure to smog pollution can exacerbate respiratory illness and even cause premature death. Sensitive populations including children,the elderly, and people with respiratory illness are particularly at risk of the adverse health effects of air pollution.
In 2005, leaders in 10 northeastern states took a decisive step against global warming and fossil fuel dependence by agreeing to create a system to limit emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants. Known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the system took full effect in 2009, becoming the first mandatory cap on global warming pollution implemented anywhere in the United States. Two and a half years later, RGGI has largely been a success.
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