Dr. Mona Sarfaty: Proposed EPA rule would undo a 2015 limit on emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel power plants

Feb. 14, 2019 – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a hearing on a proposed revision to a rule under the Clean Air Act to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel-fired power plants. The proposed rule would change a 2015 limit on emission of greenhouse gases emitted from fossil fuel power plants, under the New Source Performance Standard.

In addition to testifying at the hearing, Dr. Mona Sarfaty, director of The Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health, released the following statement.

Today’s hearing is the latest in an ongoing effort to loosen the requirements on one of the largest contributors to climate change. As physicians, we are alarmed because the greenhouse gas emissions from power plants drive climate change and make our patients sicker. This move is reversing progress and taking us in the wrong direction.

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In fact, the rule that the EPA is seeking to undo is one of several regulations that benefit the health of our people, our economy and our planet. This is exactly the moment when the EPA should be doing more, not less, to clean our air. Coal-fired power plants produce more carbon dioxide than other types of electric power-generating plants. We are seeing the negative health effects of coal-fired plants’ pollutants and climate change in doctors’ offices and hospitals across the country.

This change will harm us all, but it will take a greater toll on some who are most vulnerable, including children, pregnant women, people with pre-existing chronic conditions, poor people, and some communities of color.

This rule change will harm people living in communities next to coal-fired power plants who are exposed to dangerous pollutants in their air and water. People living in these so-called “fence line communities” are already experiencing the effects of environmental injustice and the EPA is poised to deepen that burden. We cannot permit the EPA to pretend that the very real and tangible impacts of coal fired power plants do not exist. Doctors see the death and illness that are caused by these pollutants; the effects include heart disease, cancers, lung disease, diabetes and even low birth weights and death among infants.

These new performance standards put the EPA’s charge–to protect public health and the environment–on its head, by failing to protect either.

For additional information on the health harms from climate change, you can see the Consortium’s 2017 report, Medical Alert! Climate Change is Harming Our Health at https://medsocietiesforclimatehealth.org/reports/medical-alert/

Members of the Medical Society Consortium include: American College of Physicians (ACP), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAI), American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), American Geriatrics Society (AGS), Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM), American Association of Community Psychiatrists (AACP), National Medical Association (NMA), Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM), American Telemedicine Association (ATA), Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), the California Chapter of American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP-CA), American College of Osteopathic Internists (ACOI), American Medical Association (AMA), American Psychiatric Association (APA), American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), and Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).