Climate-related health risks are more evident than ever as we continue to fight the coronavirus pandemic amid increasingly severe storms, temperatures, and natural disasters
Washington (May 14, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08) 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 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. Also co-sponsoring the legislation are Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). In the House of Representatives, Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), and Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) are co-leading the bill.
“Climate change is making people and the planet sicker, and we need a national treatment plan to address the worst effects,” said Senator Markey. “The pandemic has illuminated the threat of new infectious diseases at a terrible cost, storms are stronger and more frequent, and extreme weather and air pollution continue to cost us lives and livelihoods. The toll has been highest in the Black and Brown communities, and we need to address these inequities and prepare our health system for the continued and escalating effects of the climate crisis. I thank Rep. Cartwright for his continued partnership on legislation that recognizes that the public health impacts of climate change demand immediate action.”
“Our changing climate has an impact on the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat and so much more, and with that comes consequences for our health,” said Rep. Cartwright. “We need a playbook for addressing these growing challenges. This bill is a significant step towards safeguarding our environment and public health, protecting our communities and saving in health care costs.”
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 health.
·       Prioritize communities who have been harmed by the disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis due to environmental injustices.
·       Enhance domestic and international tracking capacity for infectious diseases and environmental health indicators
·       Develop a coordinated research and preparedness agenda on climate and health.
·       Require health impact assessments to determine how current and proposed laws, policies, and programs would protect against the health impacts of climate change.
“The U.S. is already experiencing significant health impacts of climate change because of increased air pollution, droughts, wildfires, more frequent and intense heat waves and other extreme weather events and we must act now to protect our communities. These impacts are especially harmful to children and pregnant women, people with low income, the aged and people with disabilities and chronic illnesses and many communities of color,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association. “We thank Senator Markey and Representative Cartwright for their ongoing leadership to address this critical public health issue with the reintroduction of the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act. This important legislation acknowledges the critical role that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and all its component agencies must play in helping to address these threats by requiring the development of a national strategic action plan in coordination with other key agencies. The ongoing work of CDC’s Climate and Health program is especially critical to improving the capacity of our state and local public health agencies by ensuring they have the tools, resources and information needed to protect their communities from the negative health impacts of climate change.”
“Climate change is already impacting the health of millions of Americans. Emissions from cars, power plants and oil and gas wells contribute to dangerous air pollution and drive climate change, resulting in more frequent and intense wildfires and extreme weather events. State and local health departments are on the front lines of responding to these climate change impacts and would benefit from a National Strategic Action Plan to better prepare for and respond to the health impacts of climate change. We thank Senator Markey and Representative Cartwright for again showing leadership to protect public health,” said Harold Wimmer, American Lung Association President & CEO.
Organizations endorsing this legislation include: Allergy & Asthma Network, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, American Thoracic Society, Association of Public Health Laboratories, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Children's Environmental Health Network, Climate for Health, ecoAmerica, Health by Design (Indiana), HealthHIV, Indiana Public Health Association, Medical Students for a Sustainable Future, National Association of County and City Health Officials. National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Environmental Health Association, National League for Nursing, National WIC Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Health Institute, Society for Public Health Education, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Trust for America's Health, University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment, Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.