2016 Press Releases

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National Health and Medical Professional Organizations Weigh in on Clean Power Plan Legal Battle

Amicus brief submitted in West Virginia v. EPA highlights the dangerous

 health effects of climate change on humans

WASHINGTON (April 1, 2016) – Today, a broad collection of medical professional organizations submitted an amicus brief in the case of State of West Virginia, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al. regarding the EPA’s final rule to regulate carbon emissions from power plants – known as the Clean Power Plan. The amicus brief underscores how, for the sake of the patients they treat, physicians support regulating carbon pollution as a necessary step forward in the fight against climate change and protecting the health of their patients.  

The Clean Power Plan responds to the threat posed by climate change by aiming to achieve reductions in carbon emissions by 32 percent over 2005 levels by 2030. The amicus brief details the known and projected adverse human health effects of air pollution from carbon emissions and the health impacts of climate change, which is exacerbated by these emissions.

A substantial majority of physicians believe climate change already impacts the health of their patients and anticipate greater climate-driven adverse health impacts in the future. These dangers include heat-related illness, cardiopulmonary issues arising from air pollution, and increased prevalence of vector-borne tropical diseases as mosquito populations spread north. Additionally, extreme weather events may cause injury or death. The health impacts of climate change are felt especially deeply by vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, communities of color and those living in poverty.

The brief aims to demonstrate for the court that these adverse health effects are a very serious concern for patients treated by physicians and the health community at large. The full list of amici include: the American Thoracic Society, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Medical Association, American College of Preventive Medicine, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, National Association for the Medical Direction of Respiratory Care, and the American Public Health Association.



(Listed in alphabetical order of organization affiliation)


Mark Roberts, MD, President, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

“Physicians who specialize in occupational and environmental medicine have been working for decades to ensure a healthy and safe working environment for America’s workers and workplaces. They know firsthand the serious health implications of air pollution from carbon emissions and are firmly committed to doing all they can to help reduce these effects. With the added impact of climate change, which is exacerbated by carbon emissions, it is more important than ever to take action in response. That’s why the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine is a strong supporter of science-based efforts to reduce carbon pollution and is participating in this amicus brief.”

Steven J. Stack, M.D., President, American Medical Association

 “Preventing the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions is shortsighted and will harm the public’s health, particularly people with lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema. As physicians, we are keenly aware of the health impacts of air pollution, which is linked to a wide range of health consequences, including cancer, asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. The AMA strongly supports preserving the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to help stem the mounting harm to our health and our well-being, and the associated health costs, from air pollution and other factors that contribute to climate change.”

Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association

“Time and time again, science and research have clearly proven the harmful effects of climate change on our environment and health. Air pollution and extreme weather events that result from climate change increase instances of asthma, injury and cardiovascular disease, which put the health of our elderly, children and other vulnerable populations at greatest risk. We are proud to join this group of medical and public health organizations in supporting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which is an essential action in order to reduce carbon emissions and protect the public’s health.”

Mary Rice, MD, MPH, Vice-Chair, Environmental Health Policy Committee, American Thoracic Society

“The amicus brief shows the court the wealth of scientific literature that documents how climate change is directly harming human health, today.  We are not only talking about future health effects, but real, measurable health effects that our patients are suffering from now.”