Eco-activists: EPA’s ‘Earth Week’ tour will harm the planet through airline CO2 emissions

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

The Environmental Protection Agency is celebrating Earth Week by jet-setting across the country on a multi-city tour that will end up hurting the environment, according to environmentalists.

“Frenetically jetting around the country appears to undercut EPA’s message to ordinary Americans that they should conserve, consume less and reduce transportation pollution,” stated said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

EPA chief administrator Gina McCarthy will be traveling to five cities this week as part of its Earth Week tour to “ask Americans to act on climate change through simple actions to reduce carbon pollution in their daily lives.” But PEER argues that such a tour would emit tons of carbon dioxide emissions which they say contributes to global warming.

According to PEER, the carbon dioxide emissions generated McCarthy and the EPA during her week-long tour “will far exceed any concrete climate action from their travels.”

Ironically, the EPA’s tour that aims to teach people how to “commute without polluting” will be overshadowed by the fact that McCarthy and her entourage will travel by airplane and no doubt use large vehicles to transport themselves from place to place.

According to PEER, air travel can emit 2 to 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person on cross-country flights. The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that McCarthy travels home to Boston nearly every week to see her family, mostly via air travel.

“Hasn’t EPA heard of Skype?” Ruch said.

A rough calculation of the carbon dioxide emissions of her nearly weekly flights shows she emits between 7.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year to 9.4 tons per year — nearly equivalent to the yearly carbon emissions of the average American.

“Yes, Administrator McCarthy flies home regularly to see her family. And yes she is a leader in fighting to protect our environment and improve public health,” the EPA said in response to TheDCNF’s article on McCarthy’s airline emissions. “While head of the Office of Air and Radiation, she led EPA’s efforts to create mercury and air toxics standards, the fuel economy standards and national air quality standards for particle pollution.”

The EPA’s five-city Earth Week tour is linked to the agency’s Earth Day efforts which aims to get Americans to “take action” and lower their carbon footprints. The EPA encourages people to pick five daily actions they can take to help the environment, including things like walking more, using less water and becoming an eco-activist.

McCarthy will be heading out to a variety of public relations events this week meant to champion President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan.” This includes appearing on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart and appearing at events with environmental groups.

PEER, however, points out that some of the items listed on McCarthy’s itinerary have dubious environmental benefits, like joining Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the the Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees baseball game at Fenway Park.

“EPA touts this tour as meaningful but this agency’s effectiveness in public education is not measurable,” Ruch said. “While Ms. McCarthy is an engaging individual she is hardly a charismatic figure whose mere presence galvanizes public action.”

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