President Obama is committed to protecting public health and the environment. Just yesterday, the White House hosted a Summit on Climate Change and Public Health. The Summit brought together senior White House and Administration officials, doctors, nurses, students, mothers, public health organizations, and deans from medical, public health and nursing schools around the country to, in the words of President Obama, “address the gathering challenges and costs that the threat of a changing climate poses to our nation’s health.”
Congress is moving in the other direction. This week, the House will begin debate on H.R. 2822, a bill that would undermine the Administration’s efforts to protect the health of communities around the country, including those that are the most vulnerable like children and the elderly. It would block common-sense carbon pollution standards for power plants, which if finalized as proposed would prevent more than 150,000 asthma attacks in kids and up to 6,660 premature deaths each year.
The bill would also prevent EPA from updating one of our most important air quality standards – the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. Updating national standards for ozone pollution, which is particularly harmful for children and adults with asthma, would, if finalized as proposed, prevent thousands of premature deaths and hospital admissions and prevent up to a million lost school days each year. These are just two of many provisions in the bill that would force EPA to ignore science at the expense of public health.
We have benefited from 40 years of success under the Clean Air Act. In fact, since the Clean Air Act was enacted with bipartisan support in 1970, the economy has more than tripled in size, while harmful air pollution has decreased by nearly 70 percent. The Administration will continue to defend the Clean Air Act and protect public health.