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Hearings begin in four cities for proposed EPA clean power plan

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Three of the four hearings for the proposed U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan beginning Tuesday July 29, 2014, are fully booked, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on its website. The three hearing sites for oral comments are located in Denver, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Before the hearings had started, the EPA had received nearly 300,000 written comments on the proposal.

The proposal is the first attempt to cut carbon emissions from power plants, which the EPA calls the single largest source of carbon pollution in the country. Upon full implementation in 2030, emissions from power plants would decrease to 30 percent below 2005 levels.

The fourth hearing, in Atlanta, was moved to the nearby Omni Hotel after a large scale power outage hit the original Sam Nunn Federal Center hearing site. It will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Registration in person will only be available at the Atlanta site at this time.

“The EPA is pleased by the tremendous public interest in the proposed Clean Power Plan,” the release said. The agency anticipates approximately 1,600 people will present oral comments during the two days of hearing in the four cities.

Registration is not required to attend and listen to oral comments. The EPA warns that a large number of people are expected. Space will be available on a “first-come, first-serve” basis.

In Denver, supporters of the EPA proposal plan rallies near the hearing. “As Coloradans, this is our chance to do something about climate change,” Bryce Carter, spokesman for Colorado Beyond Coal, told members of the environmental nonprofit Sierra Club. “The EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to drastically reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants across the country, helping improve families’ health and grow our economy.”

The EPA will accept comments until the Oct. 16 deadline. Submissions may be by email, fax or letter.

Coloradans also rallied on June 3, after EPA administrator Gina McCarthy announced the landmark proposal for carbon pollution standards on June 2.

At that point, Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the national League of Women Voters, called the proposal a game changer, saying that it would “protect us from the health risks and impacts of climate change.”

The Rocky Mountain Institute has tallied asthma attacks and lost work days due to power plant emissions. The emissions were also blamed by the White House for 40 percent of the carbon pollution that impacts the United States.