- The Obama administration announced plans proposing a 30% reduction in power plant emissions by 2030, attempting to mitigate substantial health risks associated with carbon pollution.
- Despite opposition from various business groups and lawmakers, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy suggests that the proposal could lead to lower medical bills and less emergency room visits, particularly for individuals with asthma and the aged population.
- The 645-page proposal is a crucial part of Obama’s efforts against climate change and could be his last significant action to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
- Organizations like the American Lung Association support the President’s proposal, recognizing it as a significant stride towards promoting national health with potential to forestall up to 4,000 premature deaths and 100,000 asthma attacks in its first year.
- Although there’s significant pushback from industry groups and lawmakers, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which predicts adverse economic impacts, the EPA counters by stating that the new rule could improve electricity bills by approximately 8% through promoting energy efficiency and lowering demand in the electricity system.
Unveiling a strategy targeting the largest source of carbon pollution in the country, the Obama administration announced plans proposing a 30% reduction in power plant emissions by 2030; a sweeping measure that could significantly enhance the health of millions of Americans.
Addressing Carbon Emission Health Risks
Providing a new perspective on climate change, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy added, “Carbon pollution supercharges risks to our health, communities, economy and lifestyle.” There are currently no boundaries on carbon pollution emanating from power plants, despite them being the country’s most substantial source.
McCarthy elaborated on the dangers such a situation presents as “Rising temperatures which cause an increase in smog, worsening of asthma, and elongated allergy seasons.” Moreover, carbon pollution from power plants comes with associated damaging pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, posing an amplified risk to our children and families.
An Opposition Stirred
The proposal, despite opposition from Republican lawmakers and business groups, could potentially lead to lower medical bills and fewer emergency room visits. As McCarthy asserts, “especially for those kids who have asthma, our aged and our infirmed.”
A Vital Component of Climate Change Efforts
This 645-page proposal, which is a crucial part of Obama’s endeavor to fight climate change, adds to the credibility of the United States when negotiating a new global treaty next year. The proposal could end up being the last significant action by Obama to lower the greenhouse gas emissions that many scientists blame for retaining heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming.
Support for the Plan
The American Lung Association backs the President’s proposal and recognizes it as a significant stride towards promoting national health. Harold Wimmer, the Association’s President, states, “Power plant contamination contributes massively to illnesses and shorter life spans.” According to Wimmer, the new regulation could reduce America’s air pollution affliction, forestall up to 4,000 premature deaths and 100,000 asthma attacks in its first year, and avert up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in 2030.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, air pollution is amongst the top environmental threats to health. The issues related to air pollution include an increase in ER room visits and hospital stays for heart and breathing problems, worsening of asthma, low birth weight, stunted lung growth in children, lung cancer, and premature deaths.
Promoting Energy Efficiency
The EPA advocates that the new rule could trim down electricity bills by approximately 8% by promoting energy efficiency and lowering demand in the electricity system. McCarthy stated that it does not need to be a choice between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. She remarks, “our measures will hone America’s competitive advantage, stimulating innovation and job creation.”
Backlash Against the Proposed Rule
However, the proposal is starting to see resistance from industry groups and lawmakers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes that the new rule could cost the U.S. economy over $50 billion a year between now and 2030.
The CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, Karen Harbert, warned of Americans facing significantly higher electricity costs, slower economic growth, and fewer jobs, with a slight reduction in carbon emissions being offset by global increases. The proposal is also seeing criticism from Republicans and some Democrats in tight campaigns in energy-producing states.
A Call for Public Opinion
The EPA announced it would accept comments on the proposal for 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register. It will hold four public hearings during the week of July 28. The hearings will occur in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. The agency said it would finalize the standards based on the schedule established in the June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.
To know more about air pollution, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.