Bill calls on feds to address health impacts of climate change

A bill introduced Friday calls on the federal government to craft a national strategy for dealing with the public health effects of climate change.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) is sponsoring the measure. She said climate change has factored into recent increases in allergies, asthma, tropical diseases, drought and high temperatures.

“Regardless of what one believes about its causes, climate change is very real,” Capps said in a statement, adding, “We have to provide our public health officials with the tools and resources they need to effectively track and prepare for these significant public health challenges.”

Democratic Reps. Edward Markey (Mass.), Doris Matsui (Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) are co-sponsoring the bill.

The legislation will likely face resistance in the Republican-controlled House, which has blocked other bills regarding climate change.

The bill directs the Health and Human Services secretary to create a national plan to assist medical professionals with health issues linked to climate change.

It would authorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the nexus of climate change and health, including the health implications of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also would bolster tracking of diseases and environmental health indicators.

The bill earned the backing of public health and environmental groups.

“Public health officials play a pivotal role in addressing the unique health challenges of climate change in communities across the country; however, too many health departments lack the resources to do so. The bill introduced today would enhance their capacity and send a true lifeline to populations most vulnerable to the health effects of climate change,” Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said in a statement.

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