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posted: 8/11/2015 1:00 AM

A mom's perspective: Why I joined a Capitol Hill climate protest

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By Kelly Nichols
Guest columnist

Every day of a mother's life revolves around her children. Most days are very much like others, filled with getting youngsters ready for the day, going to work, preparing meals, and the hundreds of things that go into running a household. But July 7th was not another routine day for me. It was the day I went to Washington, D.C., to participate in a climate-change protest on Capitol Hill.

Even though the activities of that day were different for me, the focus was the same as every other day: my children. As a member of the Moms Clean Air Force, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in a unique "play-in" protest urging action on climate change and America's Clean Power Plan put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency.

I am not a professional activist, but I cannot ignore climate change when I can see what is happening in the world and knowing that, if there is no action, things are just going to be worse for my children. When seven of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998, I wonder what kind of world my children will live in when they are my age. In a world that is already troubled by record-setting heat waves, droughts, wildfires, flooding from torrential rains, and other extreme weather events, I must do everything I can to protect my family.

That is one of the reasons I feel so strongly that every mom should support America's Clean Power Plan to rein in carbon pollution from power plants.

Today, we let power plants -- the single biggest source of climate pollution caused by humans -- emit unlimited carbon pollution. America's Clean Power Plan would close this major pollution loophole. What the EPA wants to do is to reduce greenhouse gas emission from power plants by just under a third over the next 15 years. By doing so, it also will slash by a quarter the soot and smog pollutants that jeopardize the health of kids and other vulnerable Americans.

For me, climate change is not a hypothetical threat. It is a danger to the health and well-being of my children. The way I look at it is simple: If I see a threat posed to my children, it is my job as a mother do so something about it. Calling for action on climate change and support for America's Clean Power Plan definitely falls into the doing-something-about-it category.

According to the EPA, America's Clean Power Plan will provide benefits that far outweigh the costs. It "will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion per year in 2030. This includes avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.

These climate and health benefits far outweigh the estimated annual costs of the plan, which are $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion in 2030. From the soot and smog reductions alone, for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan, American families will see up to $7 in health benefits.

Limiting carbon pollution is only part of the answer, though. Other greenhouse gases, like methane, should also be reined in. And America's moms want the U.S. to innovate and implement clean energy technology solutions. We have the opportunity to be global leaders for clean, renewable energy, including wind and solar, while protecting our children's health and future.

It might seem a little extreme to some parents to take the time out of their busy schedules to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in a "play-in" protest on Capitol Hill. I look at it as another thing I need to do to keep my children safe and healthy.

Kelly Nichols is a mother of two children. Her family lives in Highland Park.

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