Huge thanks to everyone who spoke out this past week at the EPA hearings regarding setting rules for carbon emissions from power plants!  Below are 4 moving personal statements from members of a family based in 350 Central Colorado…

IMG_20140730_162815608First, Mary Lou Church – a great-grandmother, survivor and activist…

Hello, I’m Mary Lou Church.  I’m 86 years old.  I live in Salida, CO.  Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak.

Nineteen years ago I had a massive heart attack.  After Code Blue 3 times on the operating table, a triple bypass and a 6 week hospital stay, part of that being in a basement room next to the morgue, I have 35% of my heart working.  I made it through all of that.

I take good care of myself.  I know because of my age and my heart I need to be extra aware of what I do and how I live.  I watch my diet, I exercise, I volunteer in my community, I’m an activist,  I participate in events important to me and I care  – I care about what happens to my family, my friends, my community, my country, my world.

Even though I have control over much of my life, there are things I cannot control – like the temperature of the air.  I am very much affected by heat.  When it gets hot I have what my daughter calls a meltdown.  I get light headed, I can’t breathe and I can’t think clearly.  It really is a crazy effect.  My heart and my lungs don’t like it. 

As the temperatures are raising because of CO2 emissions these episodes happen more frequently.  I can’t do my exercise walk as frequently as I want and need to.  I can’t volunteer and participate in events that I want to more often. 

 As you know, the last two years were the fourth hottest and the hottest years in record in the US.  Statistics show this heat causes more problems for the elderly, the young, the sick and the poor, we who have the least power to do anything about it.

I worry because some say warming temperatures will mean fewer deaths.  But reports show “these reductions are not expected to compensate for the increase in heat related deaths.”

 The increase of CO2 and methane in the atmosphere is affecting our environment.  The Clean Power Plan is a step forward in helping to reduce the devastation.  I urge you to pass the Clean Power Plan.  It is imperative we work to save our environment and our planet.  Please act on this most important issue.  Thank you!

 IMG_20140730_160505763_HDRSecond, Mary Lou’s son Bob Parker – previously a volunteer firefighter, grandfather, and 350 Colorado Board Member…

My Name is Robert Parker.  I live in Coaldale, Colorado beside the Arkansas River in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

This was not an easy trip for my family to come here today.  Our travel time here and back home is taking a full day.  But, we are getting 48.8 miles per gallon and we car pooled to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum. Yet we are indeed lucky that we at least are able to make the trip.  I imagine there are thousands who cannot be here simply because of economic and distance factors.

Thank you for allowing me to speak on this the most important issue of our lives.

Before I go any further – what you, the EPA, is doing is not only right it is absolutely necessary.  Put me down in support of these new regulations and guidelines.  I only wish you could take this way further.  The damage to the atmosphere, the temperature and the environment that the CO2 and methane pollution this coal fired and natural gas fired power plants are creating is increasing exponentially while the fix we are discussing today will in no way keep up with the pollution and disasters they are causing.

I am 65 years old. I am an artist and a sculptor.  My entire life has been dedicated to bringing beauty into the world in my own small way.  As an artist I have spent thousands of hours in our National Parks and other pristine and beautiful places. They have made me a whole human being.

During the 1980s I was the archeological artist at Mesa Verde National Park.  I founded my art gallery in the Park.  The Park was covered with a Pinyon /Juniper forest with many thousands of trees over 800 years old.  Before I was at Mesa Verde, during the 82 years the Park Service was keeping records there were fires that burned a total of around 5,000 acres.  After I left in 1988, between then and now almost 29,000 acres have burned, destroying over half of the park.  Those thousands of 800 year old trees? – Poof – gone- char.

Over the years since 1988 I watched our greatest National Treasures burn –  Mesa Verde that I just discussed-Yellowstone where almost a million acres or 45% of the Park burned – Yosemite,  where as I speak over 2,700 acres are burning and since 1990 another 140,000 acres have burned  – just to name a few.  I cared so I became a firefighter as well as a sculptor.  I was trained to fight structure fires and wildfires. As a wild fire fighter I fought federally managed fires throughout Colorado and in Wyoming, Montana and on the Native American lands in North Dakota and South Dakota.

This is hard – personally seeing what Climate Change is doing to our lands, our forests and our communities.

In the 1960s Colorado averaged about 460 fires a year for about 8,000 acres burned annually.  Since the 1980s fires in the west have increased 300% and annual acreage burned has increased by 500%.

In the past 2 years alone almost 354,000 acres have burned in Colorado. In those conflagrations over 1,230 homes have been destroyed, again right here in Colorado.  The Royal Gorge Fire in 2013 destroyed that destination attraction, The Royal Gorge Bridge Park, outside of Canon City, closing the Park for two years and destroying my business, an art gallery down river that depends on the tourism generated by the Park.

Wildfires are only one of the many, many, many damaging effects of Climate Change, caused in part by the very coal and gas fired power plants that your new regulations and recommendations seek to help mitigate.

Now that I am a bit old to physically put out the wildfires, I have joined 350 Colorado and 350 Central Colorado to work towards putting out the ultimate fire – Climate Change.

Thank you for all that you are doing in that regard – and for my 11 grandchildren and the millions of other children, who will face building a life in the inhospitable and cataclysmic conditions to come, please do even more.


IMG_20140730_163012937Third, Bob’s wife Kay Parker – a grandmother, asthma sufferer and mother of a sever asthma sufferer…

Hi, I’m Kay Parker.  I live in Coaldale, CO on the Arkansas River.  It’s a privilege to speak with you and I thank you for this opportunity.

I have asthma.  My asthma is allergy induced.   I feel very fortunate that there are medications which control my asthma.  I have only been in the emergency room once because of the asthma.

My oldest son also has asthma.  I spent nights holding him or sleeping on the floor beside his bed praying for morning to come so we could get to the doctor.  His asthma was and still is much more severe than mine.  And now his oldest son has asthma and Owen’s asthma is worse than his dad’s.

Not being able to breathe is terrifying.  You feel panicked and helpless.  You believe these may be the last moments in your life.

As I’m sure you’re aware, asthma is on the rise.  In the last decade it is up from 7.3% of the population to 8.4%.  Climate change is contributing to this increase.  Smog, wildfire smoke, increased dust particles in the air, more mold spores and fungi due to more precipitation in areas, more pollen and longer allergy seasons due to warmer temperatures, increased frequency of droughts and dry windy air are all contributors to asthma.  Increased CO2 and methane in the atmosphere causes climate change.  Climate change is increasing  asthma in our population.

As I mentioned, there are medications to help control asthma.  They are expensive.  It’s a burden on my budget to buy these medicines.  There are many folks who simply can’t afford them at all.  It hurts my heart to think how many out there are suffering with lung and breathing problems because care is beyond their reach.

My children and grandchildren are one of the most precious parts of my life.  I want them and all children to be able to live and grow in a clean and healthy environment.  That is a right they deserve.  Please, please pass the Clean Power Plan.  I applaud all the work you’ve done.  Now it needs to become a reality.

Someone said, and I cannot remember who to give them credit:  I am paraphrasing –

If we act as if climate change is real and work to make our environment and planet healthy and it turns out climate change isn’t real, then we’ll have a cleaner planet.  If we act as if climate change isn’t real and do nothing and it turns out climate change is real – then boom, we all lose – humanity, the environment and our planet.  So we have nothing to lose reducing the CO2 going into our atmosphere.  And we have everything to gain.  Please pass the Clean Power Plan. Thank you.


Lastly, here is a video statement from Mary Lou’s daughter Dr. Cindy Parker at a rally outside the EPA hearing in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Cindy Parker outside EPA Hearing in Washington, D.C.