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Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has kicked off four two-day public hearings about its proposed Clean Power Plan, and groups from around the country are chiming in.

The hearings will be held in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver and Pittsburgh and will provide the opportunity for interested parties to comment on the proposed rule before it takes effect. The EPA says it has received around 300,000 comments on the proposal and anticipates hearing oral comments from about 1,600 people.

In June, the EPA released its Clean Power Plan, which seeks to cut carbon pollution from existing U.S. power plants for the first time. Ultimately, the plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30% below 2005 levels, and many people believe renewable energy, including wind power, stands to benefit greatly from the regulations.

In anticipation of the EPA's public hearings, various organizations have released statements regarding the Clean Power Plan. Furthermore, an advocacy group has revealed a new poll showing that minority voters view climate change as a real threat and support carbon pollution standards.

In a statement, Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, calls the EPA plan "a giant leap forward." "This week we'll hear loud and clear that the American people are strongly behind the EPA's plans because climate change already, today, is harming our health and environment," says Beinecke. "We're almost out of time, but not out of solutions."

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, says, "We have a moral obligation to do all we can - by cutting pollution, accelerating a transition to clean energy and by taking advantage of a tremendous opportunity to modernize how we power our country. Once finalized, the EPA's Clean Power Plan will do just that, and that's why Sierra Club activists are mobilizing to support and bolster this important public health protection at the EPA's public hearings this week."

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, adds, "The National Wildlife Federation and our affiliates look forward to working with the administration and the states to achieve the new standards and protect wildlife across the nation."

Advocacy group Green For All also released a new poll. The study surveyed 400 African American and 400 Latino likely voters from so-called "battleground states" (Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virgina), as well as 100 Asian likely voters from California.

According to the survey, 62% of respondents say not enough attention and resources are being devoted to climate change, and 75% agree that the new EPA carbon pollution standards will spur research and innovations to keep energy prices low and create new industries with good-paying jobs. In addition, 70% of respondents say they are more likely to support candidates willing to expand resources to tackle climate change.

"There is a lot of rumor and speculation surrounding what people of color think about climate change and the environment," says Nikki Silvestri, Green For All's executive director. "Yet, too often the communities that are hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change are not part of the discussion. But, the answer is clear. People of color care deeply about the environment and the impacts of climate change."

Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, has announced a rally in Georgia to oppose the Clean Power Plan.

"President Obama's EPA is waging a war on affordable energy through burdensome regulations and unrealistic mandates," the group says in a press release. "It's time to send a message that we cannot afford to pay for Obama's environmental ideology."

Michael Harden, the group's Georgia state director, adds, "This is a pocketbook issue. Federal micromanaging of Georgia's electricity generation portfolio will invariably cause electricity prices to rise, and higher electricity bills are bad news for struggling Georgia families - and the most vulnerable families will be the hardest hit.

"And because such a significant portion of Georgia's electricity comes from coal," he continues, "the EPA regulations would have an overwhelmingly negative impact on jobs in Georgia."

According to the EPA, people can comment on the proposal by email, fax or letter, and the comment period is open until Oct. 16.


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