President Obama is bringing forth the first carbon pollution limits on existing power plants in the U.S. He is positioning his administration’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases as vital for the health of children.
“I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” the President said in his weekly radio address on Saturday. The address was recorded in Children’s Medical Center, where he met with young asthma patients. “In America, we don’t have to choose between the health of our economy and the health of our children,” he added.
Though the specifics of the plan have been closely guarded, administration officials say that states will be given a set of mandatory standards, then allowed flexibility on how best to achieve them.
Obama’s critics say the move will drive up costs, cut jobs and damage a fragile economy.
“We all want clean air and clean water,” Republican Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming said in the weekly GOP address. “We don’t want costly regulations that make little or no difference, that are making things less affordable. Republicans want electricity and gas when you need it, at a price you can afford.”
Obama expressed his frustration with the opposition. “These excuses for inaction somehow suggest a lack of faith in American businesses and American ingenuity,” he said. “The truth is, when we ask our workers and businesses to innovate, they do. When we raise the bar, they meet it.”
Obama states that in the first year the new rules take effect, they will prevent up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks. Though scientists say there is no direct connection between carbon dioxide and asthma attacks, coal-fired power plants that emit high levels of greenhouse gases also send high levels of other pollutants into the air that do affect health.