President Obama Lauds Proposed Carbon Rule from EPA
June 5, 2014
President Obama, in a phone call with health organizations including PSR’s national office, used a health frame to frame the importance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s newly proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
The president described the rule as a means of “reducing the carbon pollution that hurts the health of our kids and the health of the planet.” He also called it a path to a “cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future.”
The proposed rule sets goals for the reduction of carbon emissions from power plants while allowing each state to develop its own approach to meet carbon ceilings. Healthy alternatives to burning coal include increasing energy efficiency and developing more of the cleaner renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy.
Coal and asthma
The president highlighted asthma as a health impact associated with coal-fired power plants. Coal-fired power plants are the major single source of carbon pollution, which causes climate change. The resulting heat increases formation of ground-level ozone, which contributes to asthma attacks and can provoke new asthma cases.
In addition, conventional pollutants from burning coal also contribute to ozone (volatile organic compounds) and can cause permanent and irreversible damage to the lungs (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter).
Obama also noted that some states and cities have already begun to limit their carbon pollution, including over a thousand mayors who have agreed to cut their cities’ carbon emissions. Obama called that “a good start” but noted, “For the sake of our children, we have to do more.”
He also noted that, while the fossil fuel industry might respond with alarm, history shows that American businesses in the past have found ways to meet environmental regulations through innovation. He cited fuel-efficient cars and appliances, as well as equipment created to protect the atmospheric ozone layer and to eliminate acid rain. “Once we have a clear target to meet, we typically meet it and we find the best way to do it,” he added.
In closing, Obama reflected on the large issues at stake, saying, “This is something that is important for all of us – as parents, as grandparents, as citizens, as folks who care about… this beautiful blue ball in space that we’re all a part of.”
PSR will mobilize its members to speak out for a strong, health-protective EPA rule through comments submitted to EPA, letters submitted to local newspapers, and by providing testimony at hearing sites around the country.
See the thoughts of Catherine Thomasson, MD, PSR’s executive director, on the benefits likely to accrue from the EPA’s proposed rule.