Washington, DC:  As the Environmental Protection Agency’s comment period comes to a close almost 42,000 comments supporting strong action on global warming were submitted through the Sierra Club’s Big Picture campaign. The comments and testimony were collected through more than 70 house parties across the country, massive turnout and rallies at the EPA hearings in Virginia and Washington, and online outreach efforts.

After weeks of gathering public input, including more than 150,000 comments from the environmental community, the Environmental Protection Agency today will begin finalizing its finding that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollution present a danger to public health and welfare. This “endangerment finding” is the first step toward regulating global warming pollution from coal plants, cars and other major polluters.

“It’s clear from the huge volume of public input and turnout at hearings that Americans think it’s important for EPA to clean up dirty energy, especially coal plants,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Deputy Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “We have an opportunity now to make a clean energy future a reality; we cannot afford to let the coal industry hold us back by blocking clean up efforts and the transition to renewable energy.”

There are already close to 600 existing coal plants covering the U.S. Many of these aging plants have operated for decades without updating their pollution controls for soot, smog and mercury; none of the existing plants have any type of controls to limit global warming pollution.

“Existing coal plants alone account for more than 30% of the nation’s global warming pollution. We can not solve the climate and energy puzzle without addressing this major source of pollution,” continued Hitt. “It is absolutely essential that EPA use all the tools at its disposal to clean up these dirty coal plants.”

Other rules and standards by EPA are already in the works to make big polluters, like coal plants, report their global warming emissions, implement renewable fuel standards, and make our cars and trucks go further on a gallon of gas. The Big Picture campaign will continue engaging the public in these important decisions by the Obama administration, as well anticipated forthcoming standards on issues ranging from toxic coal ash disposal to emissions of mercury, soot, and smog from coal plants.