Asheville press conference: Power-plant carbon rules will promote better health

(photo by Cindy Kunst)

Clean Air Carolina and its MAHA initiative (Medical Advocates for Healthy Air) held an Asheville press conference Wednesday. Sept. 17, to  highlight President Obama’s latest proposal to limit carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants — and the positive health impacts of the plan.

Power plants are responsible for 52 percent of North Carolina’s carbon pollution. “Climate change is really the biggest public health risk for this generation and future generations,” said June Blotnik of Clean Air Carolina. MAHA and Clean Air Carolinas work with public health and medical professionals to bring them the latest research about climate change and public policy. North Carolina’s goal set by the EPA is a 40 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by the year 2030, she explained. “The Environmental Protection Agency sees this as an achievable goal because of the energy saving trajectory our state is on,” she said.

Other speakers, such as Dr. Susan Mims, a pediatrician at Mission Children’s Hospital, pointed out the less documented side of air pollution and its negative health risks. “I think that we hear a lot about the environmental effects of climate change in the media, but I think that we hear less about the health impact.” Dr. Mims shared a personal anecdote about a 9-year-old patient she recently treated for childhood obesity who had undiagnosed asthma that had begun to impact his ability to be active outside. The child was especially sensitive to high ozone days. “I think medical professionals are seeing more and more cases related to climate change,” said Mims.

Renewable energy sources, such as the new solar array located at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy office on Orchard Street, as well solar collection farms being initiated by Duke Energy across the state, represent an effort to increase the amount of low and zero CO2 emitting power sources. “Asheville has been a leader when it comes to solar, with the residents working with local government to increase its use both at home and in private businesses,” said Blotnik.

“North Carolina power plants have really spent the last 100 years putting pollutants into the air and making our air unhealthy, … and it’s now time to turn that around and develop a clean power structure for our state and these new EPA regulations will help us do that.”

To see the EPA’s recent announcement about the new regulations, click here.

 

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