Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD
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Washington, D.C. — “The American Public Health Association applauds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today for proposing a 30 percent reduction by 2030 in harmful carbon emissions from existing power plants, a leading contributor to climate change. This is a critical and necessary step for ensuring greater health now and for future generations.
“We know, as we saw in the recent National Climate Assessment, that the global warming of the last 50 years is primarily due to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels. Power plants are the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. The assessment also found that climate change is impacting human health.
“Already we are seeing the harmful and sometimes very serious consequences of climate change. Our nation’s overall welfare has been compromised by rises in preventable respiratory illness, cardiovascular ailments and water- and insect-borne disease resulting directly from climate change — including extreme heat and weather events — along with greater mental health challenges. Our most vulnerable communities, including children, older adults, those with chronic health conditions and low-income families, are at greatest risk. The costs don’t stop at our health — they include the rebuilding, recovery and emergency preparedness costs that our nation simply cannot afford.
“Today’s EPA proposal does something unprecedented: guaranteeing lower levels of carbon emissions, which will reduce threats to public health. The proposal will cut carbon pollution, smog and soot, and in its first year will prevent up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks.
“Thanks to EPA’s proposed standards we will reduce these threats and provide all Americans with safer air, cleaner energy and a more stable climate. On behalf of APHA I thank President Barack Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for helping set a course for a safer and healthier America, and urge the agency to enact the strongest possible restrictions on carbon pollution in its final version.”
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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the profession of public health, share the latest research and information, promote best practices and advocate for public health issues and policies grounded in research. We are the only organization that combines a 140-plus year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Visit us at www.apha.org.