On February 9, the United States Supreme Court granted a request filed by more than two dozen states to temporarily halt implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan. The court voted 5-4 to grant the request, thereby allowing states to stop their efforts toward meeting the new carbon emission regulations placed on existing power plants. The stay is in effect until all legal action is finished—including appeals. This has the potential to delay Clean Power Plan implementation until 2017.
Coal and utility companies joined the lawsuit as well, claiming the Clean Power Plan represents federal overreach.
The Clean Power Plan establishes national standards to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. The final plan aims to lower carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan makes up the bulk of the United States’ efforts toward combating climate change and achieving the benchmarks established during the United Nations climate change summit Paris last December. The Environmental Protection Agency says that reducing carbon emissions will have significant health benefits, and estimates that the Clean Power Plan will prevent 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 days of missed work and school. NACCHO supports the Clean Power Plan as a way to protect the public from the negative health effects of climate change.
Efforts such as the Clean Power Plan will help local health departments more effectively protect the health of their communities. Climate change is responsible for a host of health problems, including asthma, heart disease, malnutrition, increased spread of infectious diseases, and mental health issues. Local health departments should continue to educate their communities on what climate change is and how it affects human health, as well as the importance of mitigation efforts, at both the local and global level.