EPA climate rallyNorthwesterners rallied en masse this afternoon to show their support for the EPA to take action on the regulation of greenhouse gases. Hundreds of people (including a crew from Sightline Institute)  gathered on Seattle’s waterfront outside the Bell Harbor Conference Center at Pier 66 where the agency was taking public testimony on the issue until tonight. 

There were only two hearings nationwide (the other was in the other Washington on Monday) to take the public’s pulse on the matter. (See this Seattle Post Globe story to learn more about the hearing.)

The question being posed: Does the public thinks that carbon dioxide is a threat to human health? It sounded like the answer from this coast was a resounding ‘yes.’

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  • Jay Manning, director of the Washington Department of Ecology, spoke at the rally, saying the  testimony he’d heard was a unified message of concern for the harm caused by greenhouse gases.

    “It’s been unanimous,” he said.

    Dr. Evan Kanter, national president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, also spoke at the rally, listing the health risks associated with climate change: 

    • Increase heat waves causing heat stroke and other ailments
    • Increased air pollution, including ground-level ozone, which causes smog and can cause pulmonary problems such as asthma
    • Increased infectious diseases, including those carried by insects such as mosquito-borne West Nile virus
    • More extreme weather events such as floods and droughts and the injury and death that come with them

    Manning told the crowd to continue lobbying for action to reduce these threats.

    “As big as this is, as scary as climate change is, I think we can turn this around,” he said. “But it only happens if you demand it.” He went on to urge people to write an call their elected officials and leaders to pressure them to act.

    For her part, Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued an executive order again asserting Washington’s commitment to fighting global warming.

    It pledged to:

    • Continue working with the Western Climate Initiative, a regional effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions
    • Tally the emissions for Washington’s largest polluters
    • Work on reducing the number of miles residents are driving
    • Develop infrastructure to support the use of electric cars
    • Estimate the effects to shorelines caused by sea level rise

     Rally photo thanks to Jessica Johnson, Sightline Institute communications intern.