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PNS Daily Newscast - October 17, 2017 


On the rundown: a new poll has Americans turning thumbs-down on Trump’s hurricane response; changes in the works to North Carolina’s election law; a move to protect Central California wilderness; and making federal buildings “bird friendly”

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Clean Power Plan Rollback Has Health Consequences

The Clean Power Plan is projected to save thousands of lives a year by reducing asthma and other respiratory illnesses. (Pixibay)
The Clean Power Plan is projected to save thousands of lives a year by reducing asthma and other respiratory illnesses. (Pixibay)
October 11, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. - Doctors are warning that the Trump administration's intent to roll back the Clean Power Plan will mean more respiratory illness, especially in vulnerable neighborhoods.

In a long-expected move pushed by the coal industry, Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt announced plans to end Obama-era rules limiting carbon pollution from power plants. However, according to federal projections, by 2030 the Clean Power Plan would prevent 90,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths a year.

Dr. Elena Rios, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Medical Association, said poor and minority communities are being hit the hardest.

"The children's data has definitely shown that, in those areas that have more carbon pollution, young people in our communities are really disabled," she said, "and our families are spending much more time and money and effort on asthma than ever before."

Pruitt has predicted that ending the Clean Power Plan would be good for mining communities and will mean the so-called "war on coal" is over. However, Rios said the real war is on poor kids' health, since coal-burning power plants most often put soot into the air in poor white and minority communities. Even if we ignore the issue of climate change and the extreme weather it causes, she said, cutting power-plant emissions would have total health benefits of $14 billion to $34 billion. The EPA itself had estimated those health benefits at $54 billion annually.

"The government's number one responsibility from a public-health perspective is to help all people," Rios said, "and that's why we think President Trump and his administration really should not go backwards in cutting back on environmental health standards."

The Clean Power Plan calls for a one-third reduction in carbon pollution from 2005 levels by 2030, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration has said the power sector already is almost there. When the plan was proposed, Americans filed 8 million favorable comments - the highest number ever in support of an EPA proposal. The agency now is taking comments on the plan to reverse it.

The EPA proposal is online at epa.gov.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA