California Medical Association House of Delegates:
Support for EPA Clean Power Plan

Support for EPA Clean Power Plan

Authors:  Robert M. Gould, MD and Cindy Lee Russell, MD               

Introduced by: Robert M. Gould, MD (


Whereas the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment of 2014 stated that: “Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, threats to mental health, and illnesses transmitted by food, water, and disease-carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks,” and concluded that climate change is not solely a threat to future health but that “climate change threatens health here and now”; [1], and

Whereas, in 2002, the California Medical Association (CMA) adopted policy strongly urging the President of the United States to take proactive steps to curb greenhouse emissions and work with other nations to address the increasing dangers of global climate change by committing to binding reduction targets for emissions; [2]; and

Whereas, in 2008 the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted policy concurring with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant, creating conditions that affect public health, with disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and the poor, with the AMA supporting educating the medical community on the potential adverse public health effects of global climate change; [3], and

Whereas, on June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clean Power Plan, the U.S.’s first-ever carbon-pollution standards for existing power plants, that aims to achieve a 30% reduction in carbon emissions from U.S. power plants below 2005 levels by 2030; [4], and

Whereas, fossil-fueled power plants are the single-largest source of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the U.S., emitting 2.2 billion tons of CO2 in 2012; and currently accounting for 39% of total U.S. CO2 emissions; [5], and

Whereas, power plants are also the single-largest source of sulfur dioxide (71%) and mercury (53%) emissions in the U.S., and the second-largest source (17%) of nitrogen oxide, a major contributor to ground-level ozone; [6] and Whereas the proposed Clean Power Plan provides opportunities to reduce carbon pollution by making sure that existing power plants run more efficiently; by increasing low-carbon, zero-emitting renewable energy sources like wind and solar; and by increasing end-use energy efficiency; [7] and,   Whereas, reducing CO2 emissions from power plants can provide significant co-benefits to public and environmental health by related reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and mercury, pollutants that have been associated with increases in the risk of premature death, heart attacks, severity of asthma, and other health effects; [8] and Whereas, a 2011 report examining just a small number of climate-related events indicated a conservative estimate of billions of dollars annually for premature deaths and direct health care costs; [9] and Whereas, the EPA has estimated that once fully implemented, the proposed Clean Power Plan will prevent an estimated up to 150,000 asthma attacks and 6,600 premature deaths annually [10], and that the Clean Power Plan has public health and climate benefits worth an estimated

$55 billion to $93 billion per year in 2030, far outweighing the costs of $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion, [11] be it RESOLVED, That CMA calls on physicians and other health professionals to provide strong support for the proposed EPA Clean Power Plan, and to support strengthening the plan to maximize public and environmental health benefits; RESOLVED, That this matter be referred for national action.


1. Melillo JM, Richmond TC, Yohe GW, Eds., 2014:  Highlights of Climate Change Impacts in the United States:  The Third National Climate Assessment.  U.S. Global Change Research Program, 148 pp. Available at: Accessed October 1, 2014

2. California Medical Association Resolution 106-02. Climate Change and Human Health. Adopted February 4, 2002.

3. American Medical Association. Global Climate Change and Human Health. Reports of the Council on Science and Public Health. 2008 Interim Meeting, pp. 279-294.

4. USEPA 2014a. Accessed: October 6, 2014.

5. USEPA 2014b. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data, Accessed: October 6, 2014.

6. NEI 2011. National Emissions Inventory 2011. Accessed: October 6, 2014;

USEPA 2014b. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data, Accessed: October 6, 2014.

7. From CPP Proposed Rule; Federal Register vol.79, no.117 (Wed. June 18, 2014), p.34835. Available at: Accessed: October 6, 2014.

8. Schwartz J, Buonocore J et al. Health Co-benefits of Carbon Standards for Existing Power Plants. Part 2 of the Co-Benefits of Carbon Standards Study. Harvard School of Public Health, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Syracuse University, Boston University. September 30, 2014. Available at: Accessed October 6, 2014.

9. Knowlton K, Rotkin-Ellman M, Geballe L, Max W, Solomon GM. Six climate change-related events in the United States accounted for about $14 billion in lost lives and health costs. Health Affairs (Millwood). 2011 Nov; 30(11):2167-76. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0229. PubMed PMID: 22068410.

10. USEPA. 2014. EPA Fact Sheet: Clean Power Plan – Overview of the Clean Power Plan. Available at: Accessed October 6, 2014.

11. USEPA. 2014. EPA Fact Sheet: Clean Power Plan – By the Numbers – Cutting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants.” Available at: Accessed October 6, 2014.