By Elise Viebeck - 06/02/14 11:41 AM EDT
A leading group of pediatricians is proclaiming the Obama administration's new climate regulations a dramatic step forward in protecting children's lives and health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out strongly in favor of the power plant rules on Monday with a level of candor unusual for medical provider groups.
"The regulation released today by the Environmental Protection Agency is a welcome and needed step to help make the air we breathe safer and cleaner for children."
The statement coincided with a major backlash against the rules from Republicans and business interests. The GOP is framing the reform plan as a "national energy tax" that will shutter coal plants and harm the economy.
The fight is likely to factor into the midterm elections.
In a sign of rhetoric to come, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable McConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo MORE (R-Ky.), vowed to "fiercely oppose" the regulations on Monday as an "attack on Kentucky's coal industry."
Healthcare groups, meanwhile, joined the administration in calling the rules imperative for lowering illness and premature deaths from pollution.
The AAP predicted that the proposal will result in 6,600 fewer premature deaths, 150,000 fewer asthma attacks in children and 37,000 fewer cases of children with bronchitis by the time it is fully implemented in 2030.
Expected to be finalized next year, the regulations call on power plants to cut their carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030.