Through November 8, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting listening sessions around the country as part of its process to establish carbon pollution standards for existing power plants, to address the role carbon emissions play in producing climate change. Yesterday the Public Health Institute’s (PHI) Jeni Miller, PhD testified before the EPA on the public health risks of climate change, and PHI’s Linda Rudolph, MD, MPH spoke at a related press event organized by the Sierra Club and advocates for clean air.
The EPA standards, if implemented, would be the first uniform, national standards limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. They follow on similar standards the agency has proposed for new power plants, and are a major component of the Administration’s Climate Action Plan.
Miller and Rudolph spoke in Boston, where they are attending the annual American Public Health Association conference.
Speaking on behalf of PHI and its Center for Climate Change and Health, Miller noted the broad and potentially devastating effects of climate change, which threatens health in a range of ways. “Climate change strikes at the very underpinnings of health,” said Miller, “…and will disproportionately hurt low income communities, as well as the elderly and the very young.” She described the impact that increased temperatures would have,such as worsening already-poor air quality for communities throughout California’s Central Valley, and highlighted the threat that climate change poses to global food security and nutrition.
At the rally outside, Rudolph, too, emphasized the catastrophic implications for health of failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and added that many strategies to address climate change can actually improve public health. “Less carbon pollution also means less toxic air pollution,” Rudolph explained. “More walking and biking and public transit means less obesity, less heart disease , and less depression and osteoporosis. We can take action to prevent the worst human health effects of climate change, and at the same time promote healthy communities.”
Also commenting at the EPA public listening session were commissioners from New England’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a coordinated regional effort to reduce CO2 emissions from the energy sector that has demonstrated substantial CO2 reductions accompanied by economic growth. Representatives for workers from the Brighton power plant, threatened for closure by its management due to the increased costs of meeting emissions requirements, raised concerns about the impact on workers and their communities, arguing for strong transition plans to support workers; and members of the public, college students, the environmental community and the faith community spoke.
The EPA will be accepting written and verbal public comment to inform its development of standards for existing power plants through the end of this week (the deadline for written comments is unclear, but may be November 8): http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/public-listening-sessions
The EPA is accepting written public comment on its proposed standards for new power plants through November 19th, and will also hold a hearing on these standards.http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/2013-proposed-carbon-pollution-standard-new-power-plants