Here in Maine, most of us appreciate clean air and clean water and place high value on our outdoorsyway of life. We understand, without question, that the health of our families, our economy and our natural environment are inextricably linked. And that’s undoubtedly why Mainers have a long history of electing representatives like U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree who share these same values. These legislators have not only fought for healthy air and safedrinking water but have displayed leadership in addressing the real and growing impacts of climate change by supporting the Clean Power Plan: a breakthrough policy that will significantly reduce the carbon pollution which is the root of our climate problem.

The Clean Power Plan sets first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Reducing carbon pollution may be the single best thing we can do to lessen the health impacts of climate change. This is important considering that Maine has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country. Nationally, it is estimated that the Clean Power Plan will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed days of work and school by 2030. There is simply no question that the Clean Power Plan will have a tremendous positive impact on the health of Maine children and adults for generations to come.

Despite these benefits the coal industry is vehemently opposed to the Clean Power Plan and is waging an allout war in Congress to weaken or dismantle it. Earlier this month the most serious threat to the Clean Power Plan was voted on in both the House and Senate. But Maine Senators and Rep. Pingree took a strong stand in support of the Clean Power Plan Each deserves our thanks especially

Sen. Collins who was one of only three Republicans to break with her party leadership to support the plan.

We’re seeing threats to lung health right here in Maine that are directly related to our warming planet, including high heat, ozone pollution, longer and more intense pollen seasons, and toxic smoke from forest fires blowing into Maine. Children, seniors, and people with existing heart and lung conditions are most at risk. But even healthy adults who work or exercise outdoors can be harmed by unhealthy air.

This summer U.S. Surgeon General Murthy called climate change a “serious, immediate, and global threat to human health.” And in the same week, the internationally-renowned medical journal Lancet reported that steps to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and other sources can benefit health as soon as they are put in place, and will continue to provide benefits going forward. Maine health professionals immediately took up General Murthy’s mantle and called on their colleagues around the country to act on climate change.

As we embark upon this new year, we have many reasons to be hopeful that our nation and our international neighbors are finally working together to address the very serious threat of climate change. And here in Maine we can be grateful that we have Susan Collins, Angus King, and Chellie Pingree representing us in Congress while a legion of Maine physicians, nurses, and public health professionals are calling for strong and sensible policies that will help each one of us do our part to reduce the pollution at the root of climate change.


Lance Boucher is Director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association in Maine.

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