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Environment & Energy

Doctors Gather in Support of EPA’s Carbon Rule

Dr. Alan Lockwood said he has seen way too many children in emergency rooms struggling to breathe while their parents look on confused and helpless.

That is why he and other health professionals from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which aims to limit carbon emissions from power plants and the effects of climate change.

The EPA projects that the plan could prevent up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children as well as 490,000 missed work and school days in 2030, which is when President Barack Obama hopes to decrease carbon dioxide by 30 percent.

“If we support the Clean Power Plant protections, better health (and) reduced healthcare costs await us,” Lockwood said. “If we don’t, the future will be clouded with severe weather events, increased storms, more heat related deaths and increasing costs to health.”

The EPA will begin conducting public hearings on the plan Thursday in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Denver and Washington.

Dr. Catherine Thomasson, PSR Executive Director, said the EPA looked at each state and estimated the possibility of lowering carbon pollution from power plants by developing alternatives sources of electricity.

“There’s no pollution from energy efficiency using insolation, white roofs, efficient appliances and lighting and other measures, we could reduce our electricity needs by 50 percent,” Thomasson said. “What is the target for Pennsylvania based on the EPA’s calculation? Twelve percent.”

While many Pennsylvanians, including Governor Tom Corbett, expressed concern that the new regulations would result in higher electricity bills, Thomasson disputes that.

“The cost of implementing energy efficiency is only 20 percent of that of building new power plants,” Thomasson said. “So it’s cost effective and lowers your electricity bill.”

According to PSR, each dollar invested in the EPA’s plan could result in a net of $7 in health benefits for American families.

Dr. Steven Moffic, former professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said the regulations could also help with mental health.

According to him, climate change increases alcohol and substance abuse, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from super storms, schizophrenia and autism from small particles in the air that could affect the developing brain.

He compared climate change and its effects to the frog experiment.

“If you drop a frog into boiling water, what will it do? It will jump right out,” Moffic said. “But if you drop a frog into water which you very slowly increase in temperature, what do you think happens? It ends up being boiled, cooked and dies. We don’t want that to happen to our temperatures, right?”