WASHINGTON (September 19, 2014) – In advance of the UN climate meetings in New York next week, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) introduced the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, with Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). The legislation will help improve America’s public health response to climate change by supporting research, monitoring, and preparation in the health sector and by developing a national action plan.
This language originally passed the House of Representatives in 2009 as part of the Waxman-Markey climate bill. It is the first time it is introduced as stand-alone legislation in the Senate, and is the companion bill to one introduced in the House by Rep. Lois Capps.
“Climate change threatens the health of people and the planet. Global warming gets personal when air pollution harms lungs and the risks of food, water and mosquito and tick transmitted diseases increases,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and the lead co-chair of the U.S. Senate Climate Change Clearinghouse. “We need to take action to address the health impacts of climate change that are already happening and prepare for those that are coming. My legislation would create a national action plan and support public health responses to the dangers of global warming.”
Senator Boxer said: “There is overwhelming evidence that climate change is harmful to human health. We must take action to protect the health of our children and families, and this legislation will help public health professionals prepare for and respond to the worst impacts of climate change.”
“The carbon pollution we pump into the atmosphere puts public safety at serious risk from dangerous heat waves, smog that can trigger asthma attacks in kids, and wider spread of disease,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and co-chair of the Senate Climate Action Task Force. “This pragmatic measure will help the United States prepare for these threats and protect the health and safety of all Americans.”
The legislation was hailed today by public health advocates.
“Climate change is here. And we are already experiencing its many health impacts as a result of increased droughts, wildfires, extreme weather events and air pollution. With the introduction of this bill, Sen. Markey provides the leadership needed to ensure that public health professionals can aptly address these threats to our nation’s health through bolstered expertise, improved systems and increased research,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
The legislation would help improve the public health response to the challenges posed by climate change by directing 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.
It would also authorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research the health effects of climate change and health implications of potential greenhouse gas reduction strategies, as well as bolster climate change preparedness planning around the country.
--Providing technical support to state and local health departments to develop preparedness plans and conduct community outreach;
--Developing training programs for public health professionals on the health risks and interventions related to climate change;
--Enhancing domestic and international tracking capacity for infectious diseases and environmental health indicators;
--Developing a coordinated research and preparedness agenda on climate and health.
# # #