Rapidly rising gas prices across the country are shining a spotlight on the dire consequences of American dependence on oil. Our continued use of oil puts our environment, our health, and our national security at risk, and with prices across the country exceeding $4 per gallon, it is putting an incredible burden on our economy and on American families. Whether we consider these prices at the pump, the scars left by the oil spill disaster in the Gulf, the billion dollars that we send overseas every day, or the nearly 2 billion metric tons of global warming pollution that our oil consumption pumps into the air each year 1, it has become clear that we must break our dependence on oil.
For more than 26 years, states in the Chesapeake Bay region have attempted to clean up the Bay, but it continues to choke on a lethal overdose of pollution. In order to achieve a clean, sustainable Bay, states in the Bay watershed will have to reduce nitrogen levels in Bay waters another 30 percent and reduce phosphorus by an additional 8 percent—in spite of a projected population increase of 30 percent by the year 2030. Reductions of that magnitude will only be possible if governments target all the watershed’s sources of nutrient pollution.
Our dependence on oil and coal-fired power plants has broad detrimental impacts on our health and our environment. Power plants represent America’s single biggest source of air pollution, affecting our waterways, destroying ecosystems, and polluting the air we breathe. Pollution from coal-fired power plants in particular contributes to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the United States: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic respiratory diseases.