Obama administration joins CO leaders in Denver to discuss health-risks from global warming
DENVER – Hours after releasing new findings that unchecked global warming could cause an estimated 57,000 deaths a year in the U.S. due to poor air quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staff joined Colorado’s U.S. Health and Human Services regional administrator, state leaders, and local health experts for a roundtable discussion at the University of Denver convened by Environment Colorado.
Environment Colorado’s climate and health roundtable marks the two-year anniversary of President Obama’s climate action plan, the centerpiece of which, EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, sets targets for Colorado and all other states to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 2030.
“A new report released this week makes clear that when it comes to the climate challenge, we face a choice between two very different futures,” said Laura Farris, the EPA’s Regional Climate Change Coordinator. “Climate change is already having an impact on human health and is challenging EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission. We know that taking action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions will significantly benefit Americans by reducing health impacts, saving lives and avoiding more costly damages across the economy.”
The Denver metro area is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, once viewed as a distant threat. While also fueling more extreme weather events, warmer temperatures worsen air quality where smog is already a problem and increase the risk of deaths from heat waves.
Detailing these impacts in 2009, The Lancet, one of the world’s most respected medical journals, labeled climate change “the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century.”
Speaking before an audience of University of Denver students and community members, Farris was joined by Kim Gillan, HHS Region 8 administrator; Representative Dominick Moreno, assistant majority leader; Matt Jones, Colorado State Senator (D-Longmont), Max Tyler, Colorado State Representative (D-Lakewood); Julie Moyle, registered nurse with the Health Hospitals Initiative; Kai Abelkis, Boulder community health sustainability coordinator; and Travis Madsen, Environment Colorado’s global warming state campaign director.
“Coloradans are entrepreneurial, inventive, and well-positioned to safeguard their communities by meeting their share of the Clean Power Plan’s pollution reduction goals,” said Representative Moreno. “I look forward to seeing Colorado take the lead, for the sake of our health and the natural wonder this state has to offer.”
The University of Denver roundtable served to amplify statements from both the White House and the Surgeon General, all part of a weeklong effort to raise the visibility of climate-related health impacts in advance of the finalization of the Clean Power Plan later this summer.
“Colorado needs global warming solutions like the Clean Power Plan to help us breathe easier,” said Environment Colorado’s Travis Madsen. “We applaud President Obama and the EPA for their leadership on the Clean Power Plan and look forward to continuing the work to reduce global warming pollution to levels science says are healthy and safe for Coloradans.”
Environment Colorado is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit www.environmentcolorado.org.