No Time to Stay Quiet: The Clean Power Plan Is Critical to Protect Public Health

The Supreme Court recently granted a stay that temporarily delays implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan (CPP), pending the resolution of legal challenges to the CPP that have been raised.

If this stay results in delaying carbon limits, public health will suffer. Groups including the American Public Health Association, the American Lung Association, Trust for America's Health, the American Thoracic Society, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment, Health Care Without Harm, Climate 911, and the Asthma and Allergy Network voiced deep disappointment with the stay. These groups collectively represent tens of thousands of doctors, medical and health professionals who strive to protect us from health threats.

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) has everything to do with limiting carbon pollution that causes climate change. Climate change is already harming human health, right in our backyards. Burning fossil fuels is the #1 source of heat-trapping carbon pollution that causes climate change. The added benefit of CPP is trimming other nasty health-harming pollution emitted at the same time as carbon pollution.

There's an enormous body of scientific evidence that connects the dots between climate change and our health. The Third US National Climate Assessment makes this clear.

There's people's personal experience - with 2015 the hottest year ever recorded globally, and 15 of the 16 hottest years ever having occurred in the 21st century. In recent years, we've witnessed (or lived through) extreme heat, precipitation extremes from drought to heavy downpours, historic wildfires, emerging infectious diseases, sea level rise and coastal storms flooding cities and towns.

There's public opinion - two-thirds of Americans are in favor of the United States taking action to limit climate change.

There's the international community - who reaffirmed at COP-21 meetings in Paris last December, that when it comes to climate change, health is a human right, it's a key principle.

As NRDC's President Rhea Suh said, the stay won't stop us from defending the Clean Power Plan and its health protections.

With the CPP, we can move away from the dirty fossil fuels that are driving climate change and shift to smarter, cleaner, healthier ways to power our future without endangering our planet and our kids' future. With so much hanging in the balance, don't expect the health community to stay quiet.

About the Authors

Kim Knowlton

Senior Scientist and Deputy Director, Science Center

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