HomeWashington Letter2016 ▶ ATS Filing Support’s EPA’s Plan to Regulate Carbon Pollution
ATS Filing Support’s EPA’s Plan to Regulate Carbon Pollution

April 2016

This week, the American Thoracic Society led a coalition of medical groups in filing an amicus brief in the case of West Virginia v. EPA regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's final rule to regulate carbon emissions from power plants – known as the Clean Power Plan. The amicus brief summarized the known human health effects of climate change and how studies are documenting that patients are suffering from climate effects today.

The EPA regulation 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.

As documented by several physician surveys, a majority of physicians note that climate change already impacts their patients' health and anticipate greater climate-driven adverse health effects 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.  Joining the ATS in the amicus brief were the following organizations:  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.

Last Reviewed: October 2017