The federal government shutdown is jeopardizing the future climate and economic growth of Massachusetts, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey charged Tuesday.
Markey blamed the tea party for the shutdown and the subsequent cancellation of a public hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed regulations for limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants, which was to take place in Boston on Tuesday.
"Because of the tea party government shutdown, the people of Massachusetts and the other New England states are missing their chance to express their concern about the need to reduce carbon pollution and the opportunity to discuss the importance of the Obama administration's proposed rules for new power plants," he said during a conference call with reporters organized by the Sierra Club. "This tea party shutdown has shut out the public from even discussing climate change and what our government can do about it."
He said continued climate change will adversely impact job growth in the state, with a projected gross domestic product loss of $9 million and a loss of 38,000 job by 2050.
Markey, a longtime proponent of federal efforts to tackle climate change, said Massachusetts is already feeling the effects of "a fast approaching climatic meltdown" as sea levels rise and severe storms become more prevalent throughout New England.
"This tea party shutdown has already closed our national landmarks, most of which are being threatened by climate change," he said. "Our national landmarks, our beaches and our homes, all along the coast of New England, are being threatened, not only by rising sea levels but also by the increase in precipitation and erratic storms."
The Democrat said he wants to see regulations for carbon-emitting power plants to expand beyond the proposed regulations to include existing coal and fossil fuel powered plants.
Markey's concerns were echoed by Susan Labandibar, president of the Boston-based Tech Networks, and Dr. Martha Nathan, assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and staff physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield.
Labandibar said climate change is affecting small businesses like hers disproportionately.
"Everywhere I go, I find small businesses suffer during extreme weather, or even from the threat of extreme weather," she said. "Restaurants and retail stores lose business when they are forced to shut down in response to major storms We grapple with an unfair burden from even the threat of extreme weather."
Nathan, whose practice includes pediatrics and internal medicine, said climate changes caused from pollutants related to carbon-emitting power plants are taking their toll on her patients.
She said extreme weather -- from tornadoes to this summer's extreme heat waves -- is adversely affecting the young and old alike.
"I have treated too many toddlers who are coughing until they throw up from their asthma. I have too many grandmothers in my waiting room, fearing their next breath will be their last," she said. "The carbon pollution responsible for climate disruption has already delivered particular destruction to my patients. The horrible heat wave this summer caused heat stroke and dehydration The inversion [increased ozone production caused by heat] made asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease rates soar."