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Environmentalists Say State Must Focus on “Interconnected” Climate Solutions


Thursday, July 15, 2021   

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The state's Environmental Management Commission this week green-lighted a plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants. The proposal sets the stage for North Carolina to join the eleven-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

But reducing air pollution is just one component of restoring healthy environments and communities, said June Blotnick - executive director of Clean Action and Innovation to Restore the Environment or CleanAIRE NC, formerly known as Clean Air Carolina.

She said her organization has shifted its focus, and its name, to include a broader scope of work that focuses on key determinants of public health.

"Over the years," said Blotnick, "it's become so much more clear to us that climate-change equity and public health are all interconnected issues, along with air pollution."

Last month the Environmental Protection Agency announced it's allotting $50 million dollars in funding to help low-income and communities of color most impacted by pollution and the climate crisis, including more than $5 million to increase monitoring near low-income communities' drinking water sources for toxics and hazardous metals.

Blotnick pointed to CleanAIRE NC efforts to partner with communities such as those in Charlotte's Historic West End, to collect data on the health effects of air pollution. She said it's critical to mobilize North Carolinians to advance solutions through local action and policy.

"Working closely with the community on implementing strategies that will reduce the heat-island effect for example," said Blotnick, "filter air pollution through green infrastructure, and other measures to protect health."

Blotnick said the state's doctors, nurses and other health professionals also have stepped up to recognize climate change as a public health emergency, and have formed North Carolina Clinicians for Climate Action, a group aimed at helping patients identify and adapt to air pollution and climate impacts.

Disclosure: Clean Air Carolina contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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