Lawmakers Reintroduce Legislation to Prepare for Health Impacts of Climate Change
Recent U.S. Climate Assessment says, “Adaptation and mitigation policies and programs that help individuals, communities, and states prepare for the risks of a changing climate reduce the number of injuries, illnesses, and deaths from climate-related health outcomes”
Washington (February 1Y, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17) today introduced the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, legislation that will help improve America’s public health response to climate change by supporting research, health impact monitoring, and preparation in the health sector and by developing a national action plan. The legislation would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a National Strategic Action Plan to assist health professionals in preparing for and responding to the public health effects of climate change. Also co-sponsoring the legislation are Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Representatives Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Doris Matsui (CA-06), and Bradley Schneider (IL-10).
“Climate change is making people and the planet sicker, and we need a national treatment plan to address the worst effects,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force. “Stronger and more frequent storms, air pollution, and more food, water and animal-borne transmitted diseases are already happening, and we need to prepare for these and the additional impacts that will come. I thank Rep. Cartwright for his continued partnership on legislation that recognizes that the public health impacts of climate change demand immediate action.”
“Climate change is a major threat to Americans’ health,” said Senator Whitehouse, co-Chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force. “In downwind states like Rhode Island, we cope with bad air days that make it risky for some Rhode Islanders to go outside on hot days in the summer. That is just one of the public health challenges we experience as climate change intensifies. I’m proud to join Senators Markey and Schatz to help us get ready for the health effects of climate change.”
“Americans know that climate change is a public health issue,” said Senator Schatz, co-Chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force. “They see it with the increase of rats, ticks, heat waves, and air quality alerts. It’s time that the U.S. government made a plan so that we can help health professionals deal with these issues and protect the health of the American people.”
“Climate change is impacting our air quality, depleting our waterways, and raising food and health care costs for Americans,” said Congressman Cartwright, a vice chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). “This bill is a necessary step towards protecting the health and well-being of families across the nation, especially those who live in our most vulnerable communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve our nation’s public health response to the disastrous effects of climate change.”
“The scientific community is sounding the alarm on our narrowing window to address the impacts of climate change and we cannot be caught flat-footed,” said Congressman Carbajal. “We must provide our public health agencies, and the community groups they help inform, with the tools to address and prepare for these risks. This report will help us in that important effort and I thank Mr. Cartwright for his action to help protect our public health.”
“We must combat the climate crisis head on,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Climate change will impact every aspect of our daily lives from severe weather to public health. That’s why I’m supporting the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, which will ensure our healthcare system is ready and able to rapidly respond.”
“Global climate change is real, and as we work to address the problem of emissions, we also need to prepare for its far-reaching effects which impact our environment, economy, security, infrastructure, and public health,” said Rep. Schneider. “This bill is a step toward better understanding the threats to our health and wellness posed by a changing climate. Equipping health professionals with research, monitoring, and preparation will help our communities mitigate the negative health consequences of climate change.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
Specifically, the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act would:
- Provide technical support to state and local health departments to develop preparedness
- plans and conduct community outreach;
- Enhance forecasting and modeling, track environmental and disease data and expand
- research capacity to better understand the relationship between climate change and
- Enhance domestic and international tracking capacity for infectious diseases and
- environmental health indicators;
- Develop a coordinated research and preparedness agenda on climate and health.
“Climate change is a public health emergency,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO, American Lung Association. “From wildfire smoke to increased levels of ozone pollution due to rising temperatures, our changing climate is making it harder to reduce air pollution, resulting in serious risks for Americans’ lung health. It is critical to reduce the emissions that cause climate change and to help communities across the country adapt to the dangerous impacts already taking a toll on health today. I applaud Senator Markey and Representative Cartwright for their leadership on this urgent health issue.”
“We need to act now to protect our communities from the negative health effects of climate change,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “The U.S. is already experiencing these health impacts as a result of increased air pollution, droughts, wildfires, more frequent and intense heat waves and other extreme weather events. We thank Senator Markey and Representative Cartwright for his leadership to address this critical public health issue with the reintroduction of the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act. This important legislation would further enhance our understanding of the health threats posed by climate change and improve support for our state and local public health workforce to ensure they have the tools, resources and information they need to protect their communities from these growing public health threats.”
“Moms Clean Air Force wholeheartedly endorses this timely and urgent effort to focus the talents of the nation’s best doctors and health scientists on the impacts of climate change on the health of our beloved children, the elderly—and all members of our families. Our million-plus members are demanding that we get on a path to climate safety, and this bill will help us face the extensive public health impacts of climate change. Hospitals and health clinics must be prepared for what is happening now; emergency services cannot be left to scramble when communities are hit hard by extreme heat, flooding, and drought, among other problems. This bill will lay a solid foundation for caring for our citizens’ health in the face of climate change.”
Organizations endorsing the legislation include: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Preventive Medicine, American Lung Association, American Psychological Association, American Thoracic Society, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, Center for Climate Change and Health, Center for Health and the Global Environment, University of Washington, George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, Health Care Without Harm, Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Mom’s Clean Air Force, National Association of County and City Health Officials, National Recreation and Park Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Environmental Health Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Health Institute, Sierra Club, Trust for America’s Health, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Hip Hop Caucus.