Court should not block EPA’s Clean Power Plan
By the narrowest of possible margins, the Supreme Court recently took an unprecedented step by blocking the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Designed to fulfill the EPA’s mission “to protect human health and the environment,” the plan places common-sense limits on the emission of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, released by coal-fired power plants.
Under the plan, each state is required to craft a strategy that takes advantage of its strengths to achieve an overall goal. Virtually all climate scientists and public health experts have identified climate change as the most important health threat we face.
Heat waves, intense storms, poor air quality due to rising levels of asthma-inducing ozone, floods, droughts, crop failures leading to famine, rising sea levels augmented by storm surges, the spread of insect-borne diseases including dengue, which has caused a state of emergency in Hawaii, and Zika, prolonged allergy seasons and more are all projected to pose threats. There is no place on Earth to hide. We are all at risk. Children, individuals with chronic illnesses and other vulnerable populations are the most likely to be affected.
The court’s ill-advised action has worldwide implications because it could begin to derail the carefully crafted Paris Climate Accords negotiated by the United States and signed by nearly every nation at the end of 2015.
Hopefully this interim action will not stand when the court makes its final decision. Meanwhile, state governments must step up to the plate and limit carbon dioxide emissions to protect health.
Alan H. Lockwood, M.D.
Physicians for Social Responsibility