Administration using asthma to justify rule

 

The Obama administration is turning to growing asthma attacks in children and families to make the case for its new rules on carbon pollution from power plants.

When announcing the new standards, which call on power plants to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030,  Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy stressed the number of cases of severe asthma affecting children across the U.S.

ADVERTISEMENT
McCarthy began her remarks by sharing the story of a child afflicted with asthma, attempting to personalize the administration's case for the rules, which Republicans have painted as a merciless "war on coal." [READ MCCARTHY'S SPEECH.]

"Parker Frey is 10 years old. He’s struggled with severe asthma all his life. His mom said despite his challenges, Parker’s a tough, active kid, and a stellar hockey player," McCarthy said. "But sometimes, she says, the air is too dangerous for him to play outside. In the United States of America, no parent should ever have that worry."

Power plants are the nation's largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for roughly 40 percent. The EPA says the president's proposal is expected to prevent 150,000 asthma attacks within its first year alone.

"Rising temperatures bring more smog, more asthma, and longer allergy seasons. If your kid doesn’t use an inhaler, consider yourself a lucky parent, because 1 in 10 children in the U.S. suffers from asthma," McCarthy said. "Carbon pollution from power plants comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, putting our families at even more risk."

It's because of asthma attacks and other health problems associated with carbon pollution that the EPA is taking action, McCarthy added.

"That's why EPA exists," she said. "Our job, directed by our laws, reaffirmed by our courts, is to protect public health and the environment."

Obama will continue pushing the message on the health benefits of the proposal, which is considered the cornerstone of his climate change legacy.

Later Monday, the president will participate in a call hosted by the American Lung Association to discuss the standards with public health organizations across the country.

Ahead of the proposal's release, Obama gave his weekly address from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Obama said that kids at the hospital are being treated "all the time for asthma and other breathing problems."

"Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution — pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change. And for the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to reduce it," Obama added.

The administration's messaging on the rules will be key to whether it's finalized by mid-2015 and survives the onslaught of legislation and legal lawsuits that Republicans and pro-coal Democrats are pushing.