June 27, 2014

Benjamin: 'We have moral obligation' to tackle greenhouse gas pollution

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin says the city needs to support President Barack Obama’s efforts to address climate change, a phenomenon tied to an array of environmental problems associated with greenhouse gas pollution.

While Gov. Nikki Haley has questioned plans to cut carbon dioxide pollution, Benjamin said, “we have a moral obligation’’ to tackle the problem. The mayor held a meeting Thursday with environmental, government, health and business leaders to discuss the impact of climate change in Columbia.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a plan to cut carbon dioxide pollution about 30 percent nationally, including a 51 percent cut in the rate at which power plants in South Carolina release the greenhouse gas.

“Our president has taken the lead and now it’s our turn to act,’’ Benjamin said in a news release.

Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson have questioned the plan and its potential impact on utility rates. State-owned power company Santee Cooper also has been critical of the plan, but environmentalists say the proposal should not be hard for South Carolina to comply with.

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