If you are a news-watcher like me and you care a thing or two about breathing, then you may be forgiven if you missed the big news announced last week that the Trump Administration heaped upon the fine citizens of this already-great country — the reversal of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This spiteful, cruel, politically cynical, out of touch, dangerous — you choose a better adjective — move hardly received coverage from the mainstream media. Chances are that your doctor was paying attention, however, and it’s a good bet she/he wasn’t particularly pleased. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents more than 66,000 pediatricians, took notice in a very public statement:
“Today’s proposal to revoke the Clean Power Plan is inconsistent with EPA’s core mission of protecting public health and the environment. The Clean Power Plan, adopted in 2015, would have substantially reduced carbon pollution and other emissions from power plants, and prevented an estimated 90,000 pediatric asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths each year once fully implemented. Revoking this lifesaving plan denies Americans these health protections and removes crucial tools to reduce pollution that causes climate change.
“Climate change poses sweeping and devastating threats to human health. From elevated levels of dangerous ozone and particulate air pollution due to higher temperatures and worsening wildfires, to increased risks from vector-borne diseases such as Lyme Disease due to the expanding seasons and geographic ranges of vectors like ticks and mosquitoes, the examples of climate-related health risks are far-reaching. What’s more, while every American’s health is threatened by climate change, certain groups of people – including children, seniors, low-income communities, and those living with a chronic disease like asthma – are especially vulnerable.
“The health impacts of climate change demand immediate action. Failing to address this public health crisis will have lasting consequences. The longer our nation’s leaders postpone action to clean up carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, the more severe the health costs will be.
“Our organizations are committed to fighting for action on climate change to safeguard the health of all Americans. We will participate in the rule-making process and submit comments conveying our strong opposition to this proposal. As leading public health, patient advocacy, nursing and medical organizations, we call on the EPA to heed the clear scientific evidence and protect public health by cleaning up major sources of carbon pollution from power plants and taking steps to avoid the worst health impacts of climate change.”
Some of the other medical and public health organizations — groups who have the very limited special interest of preserving and protecting the health of real people like you and me — that reacted negatively to the repeal of the Clean Power Plan likely include representatives of your own personal doctors. The AAP, along with other members of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health like the American Medical Association (AMA), American College of Physicians (internal medicine), American Academy of Family Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), and other medical societies protested as one with respected groups like the American Public Health Association, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, Children’s Environmental Health Network, Health Care Without Harm, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and more, to condemn the chief executive’s action:
“A decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan is a choice that puts American lives at greater risk from unhealthy air and the health harms from climate change,” said Dr. Mona Sarfaty, director of the, a group of medical associations representing 450,000 clinical practitioners.
Sarfaty cited a 2015 EPA analysis of the Clean Power Plan that said it would help prevent 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks and 90,000 asthma attacks per year.
“While many regard the Clean Power Plan primarily as an effort to reduce climate change, doctors know it’s also about the health of our patients,” Sarfaty said.
None of these actions by the administration, incidentally, should surprise anyone who paid attention to last year’s election. What was promised is now done in regards to the gutting of executive branch departments and agencies whose historic missions are to protect the public’s health and well-being. And we should all keep in mind that a sizable number of people we call family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers completely support these crude and ill-informed tactics designed to destroy hard-fought environmental health protections that sought to ensure clean air and clean water. Today, the air and water we all share are now being assaulted by fake experts and know-nothings, and serious action to solve the climate crisis — with withdrawal from the international Paris Climate Accord earlier this year and, now, repeal of the Clean P0wer Plan — seems further away than ever.