I grew up in New Jersey, the son of two teachers. My dad is a high school science teacher and my mom taught English and Physical Education, prior to her fights with cancer. A three time cancer survivor, she lived 30 years longer than any doctor had predicted she would, but ultimately succumbed to complications in 2012 that resulted from her long and tumultuous medical history.
My mom’s health problems were a fact of my entire life: I grew up knowing nothing else. They put an indescribable burden on a family, one of which was the financial burden. My dad had decent insurance, but the financial burden was more than medical bills; my mom was unable to contribute to the household income, and her struggles cost the family financially in more intangible ways than those simply incurred by hospital and doctor visits. There were times when making ends meet was more than just difficult.
It is this experience that helped motivate me to get involved in the fight to improve our nation’s public policy. Although it may not be intuitive, environmental policy can have one of the largest impacts on household income. I know personally how much of an impact something as simple as the price of gas increasing by a few cents or the utility bill going up by a couple percentage points can have on a budget. That twenty or thirty extra bucks goes a long way for a family of four.
It is with this perspective that I approach the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas powered power plants 30% by 2030. The CPP will have average families paying $1,225 more in inflation-adjusted dollars for power and gas in 2030 than in 2012. The fact is that for families all over the United States, $1,225 per year is the difference between affording that grocery bill, and going hungry.