OPED: Fossil fuels industry profits, planet suffers


Thank you for your editorial “Brunner Island facing hurdles.” A Talen Energy spokesman said "The entire fossil fuel industry is facing truly unprecedented challenges including increasingly stringent environmental laws and regulations" was troubling to me. Talen has been getting away without complying with state emissions laws because of some loophole, so it's about time they start complying.

Brunner Island

I would like to remind that spokesman that the planet and all of life on earth is also facing truly unprecedented challenges as well, and it is due to the fossil fuels industry.

Scientists recently recorded the first mammal extinction due to climate change, a small Australian rodent called the Bramble Cay melomys, and are saying we are now entering a sixth mass extinction event with one in six species threatened due to climate change from burning fossil fuels.

Coastal cities around the world now have to deal with rapidly rising sea levels thanks to the ice sheets melting due to global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. Pacific Island nations are already looking for new countries to move to as their island homes go under the waves.

As you point out “The York-Harrisburg-Lebanon region consistently makes the American Lung Association’s list of regions with the poorest air quality.” According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.”

EDITORIAL: Brunner Island facing hurdles

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration keeps track of extreme weather events in the U.S. which cost a billion dollars or more. As of July 2016, there were 8 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each. According to NOAA’s website, “In 2015, there were 10 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. The 1980–2015 annual average is 5.2 events (CPI-adjusted); the annual average for the most recent 5 years (2011–2015) is 10.8 events (CPI-adjusted).” Extreme weather events due to climate change caused by burning fossil fuels are on the rise, costing taxpayers increasing amounts of money.

None of these costs are included in the price of fossil fuels, but should be. The fossil fuels industry is profiting at the expense of the health and welfare of our planet and its occupants, and we can no longer afford to ignore it.

— Mike Omlor is a Washington Township resident.