New White House report props up Obama on health impacts

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 9, 2014

A White House report released today aims to reinforce President Obama’s message from earlier this week that new greenhouse gas regulations are needed because global warming threatens Americans’ health.

The seven-page report illustrates the link between climate change and atmospheric ozone, particulate matter and other emissions, which the president and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy cited Monday when promoting EPA’s newly released carbon dioxide emissions rule for existing power plants.In a call hosted by the American Lung Association following the proposal’s release, Obama said the draft “makes sure that we are addressing the carbon pollution that hurts the health of our kids.”The White House summary notes that hotter temperatures contribute to smog-forming ozone, and more frequent wildfires linked to climate change have resulted in more particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and other emissions linked to respiratory illness, particularly in vulnerable populations. It also says confirmed heat-related deaths numbered 7,800 in the United States between 1999 and 2009 — an estimate that many experts say probably falls significantly short of the mark because of difficulties in confirming heat-related mortalities.

The report also repeats the president’s statement that African-American and Latino children report higher instances of asthma than white children — a statistic that is in part due to the presence of point sources like power plants in lower-income neighborhoods.

The administration points to its estimate for health and health-care savings from the rule to show that its benefits would far outweigh its costs, which EPA estimates at between $7.3 billion and $8.8 billion annually.

But industry critics say EPA is “double accounting” and confusing it with one designed to address conventional air pollutants (Greenwire, June 3).