Washington, DC — Attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role in protecting air quality and regulating greenhouse gases pose significant threats to the nation’s health, according to environment and health advocacy group Health Care Without Harm. Efforts to curtail the role of the EPA in regulating greenhouse gases and to prevent and roll back regulations intended to reduce air pollution are underway in the 112th Congress through new legislation introduced and being planned by House members.
“Curtailing these efforts by placing our regulatory system in a stranglehold will sentence tens of thousands of people to debilitating, respiratory illnesses, adding to the burden of chronic disease in the nation and increased financial burden to the health care system,” said Gary Cohen, president of Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition of organizations dedicated to reducing environmental damage caused by the health care sector. “The EPA declaration in 2010 that greenhouse gas is a threat to public health gave new urgency to efforts to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gasses worldwide—lifesaving efforts that Congress now wants to limit.”
One of the first Acts of Rep. Marcia Blackburn (R-TN) in 2011 was to introduce H.R. 97, a bill to amend the Clean Air Act to stipulate that greenhouse gases are not subject to the Act. Those co-sponsoring the bill state EPA regulations are “job-killing” and not authorized by Congress. But members of Congress who support EPA regulation of greenhouse gases state that the Clean Air Act was passed by Congress with the intention of having the EPA regulate all air pollutants, including greenhouse gases. An article in The New York Times (http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/e-p-a-faces-first-volley-from-the-house/?src=twt&twt=nytimesgreen) characterized the new legislation as an attempt to “throttle the Environmental Protection Agency.”
“Greenhouse gases contribute to human morbidity and mortality in the same way that smog and soot pollution and other air toxins do,” stated Cohen. “We call on all of our members and supporters to let their Representatives know that we want them to fully support the EPA in its efforts to carry out its responsibilities to reduce air pollutants, from whatever the source.”
Heath Care without Harm, an international coalition of more than 500 organizations in 53 countries, is working to transform the health care sector, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. To learn more about HCWH's work, visit our website at www.noharm.org, our YouTube channel at HCwithoutharm, and our twitter feed at hcwithoutharm.