By Mona Shand
Doctors and pastors, economists and environmentalists - people all across Indiana - are applauding the first-ever national protections from carbon pollution - and they're calling on the state's elected leaders to get behind the Clean Power Plan.
Dr. Stephen Jay said that during his career as a pulmonologist, there were some days when the air quality in Indianapolis was so poor that his patients with asthma and other breathing issues were forced to stay indoors. While some critics of the plan to limit pollution from existing power plants have claimed it's too costly, Jay, a professor emeritus at Indiana University School of Medicine, argued that it is a necessary investment that ultimately will help save and enhance the lives of thousands of Hoosiers.
"It really is a small step, but it's a critically important step," he said. "We're all going to have to address this together if we're going to stabilize the increasing temperatures on the planet."
As part of the Clean Power Plan, states are responsible for developing their own plans to reduce carbon pollution. However, in June, Gov. Mike Pence sent a letter to President Obama stating that Indiana would not comply with the Clean Power Plan as it was written. If the state fails to develop a plan, a federal plan will be forced upon it.
Mike Oles, organizing director for Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, said he finds the governor's response disappointing on many levels. Oles maintained that the plan is good for Indiana from an economic, environmental and moral point of view.
"Faith really asks us to care for God's creation, asks us to care for the next generation, and really to do right for the future," he said, "and so the Clean Power Plan is a major step in doing that."
Experts say climate disruption already has cost Indiana billions of dollars in the form of droughts, floods and crop damage. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of people in the state believe the government should limit dangerous greenhouse-gas emissions.