A Step Toward Cleaner Air and Healthier Communities

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released a vital component of the President’s Climate Action Plan – proposed common-sense carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. Since air pollution from power plants can worsen asthma and other breathing problems, EPA’s guidelines will help protect the health of vulnerable Americans, including children and the elderly.

In a big step forward, yesterday the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates, a body representing more than 500 medical associations and organizations, voted to formally reaffirm their support for carbon pollution standards for power plants and committed to submit comments on the EPA’s proposal underscoring the need to keep strong standards that protect public health. AMA’s vote puts them alongside other public health organizations that have taken leadership on this issue, including the American Thoracic Society and the American Lung Association.

In addition to cutting carbon emissions from the power sector by about 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, EPA’s plan will also decrease that sector’s emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by about 25 percent. From the soot and smog reductions alone, for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan, American families will see up to $7 in health benefits.

In the first year that these standards go into effect, up to 100,000 asthma attacks and up to 2,100 heart attacks will be prevented. These standards will also help more kids to be healthy enough to show up to school – with up to 72,000 fewer absences in the first year. The benefits increase each year from there.

It’s a big step toward cleaner air and better public health.


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Dan Utech is Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.
Related Topics: Energy and Environment
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