Climate Change and Public Health

An illustrated depiction of lungs and a heart monitor line in front of the iconic climate stripes.

Health Effects of Cli­mate Change

Health Effects of Burn­ing Fos­sil Fuels

Envi­ron­men­tal Justice

Trump Admin­is­tra­tion Cli­mate Rollbacks

Online Con­fer­ence

The envi­ron­men­tal impacts of cli­mate change are well known: extreme weath­er, ris­ing seas, and cat­a­stroph­ic wild­fires, among oth­ers. Less appre­ci­at­ed is the cli­mate change-caused health cri­sis. The intense heat, killer storms, and dis­ease vec­tors spawned by cli­mate change are tak­ing a major human toll. Plus the pri­ma­ry cause of cli­mate change — the burn­ing of fos­sil fuels — gen­er­ates dan­ger­ous lev­els of air pol­lu­tion that cause asth­ma and oth­er res­pi­ra­to­ry issues, while short­en­ing lives. If robust action is not tak­en to mit­i­gate the effects of cli­mate change, these many adverse health con­se­quences are expect­ed to wors­en, result­ing in tens of thou­sands of addi­tion­al peo­ple sick and lives lost, with dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties hurt most of all.

Although over­whelm­ing evi­dence points to the need for strong fed­er­al action to address cli­mate change, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has failed to set even the most basic nation­wide stan­dards to curb green­house gas emis­sions. Rather than take action to mit­i­gate the harm­ful effects of cli­mate change, this admin­is­tra­tion con­sis­tent­ly ignores sci­ence and sides with indus­try, rolling back com­mon sense reg­u­la­tions with no appar­ent regard for the con­se­quences to pub­lic health and the envi­ron­ment. Thank­ful­ly, state attor­neys gen­er­al have stepped in to chal­lenge the roll­back of cli­mate reg­u­la­tions and fight to pro­tect human health and the envi­ron­ment from the rav­ages of cli­mate change.

Health Effects of Climate Change

The con­se­quences of cli­mate change — includ­ing more fre­quent and intense severe weath­er, heat, drought and flood­ing extremes, chang­ing pat­terns of vec­tor-borne dis­eases, and threats to food and water secu­ri­ty — can have sig­nif­i­cant impacts on pub­lic health. These impacts range from imme­di­ate threats to phys­i­cal safe­ty to long-term effects on men­tal health and soci­etal well­be­ing. As cli­mate change inten­si­fies, its impacts on pub­lic health are expect­ed to per­sist for longer peri­ods of time, occur at unprece­dent­ed times of the year, and expand into areas that have nev­er expe­ri­enced these threats before.(1)

Intense Heat

Heat caus­es more deaths in the U.S. than any oth­er weath­er-relat­ed haz­ard(2) — esti­mates sug­gest that approx­i­mate­ly 12,000 Amer­i­cans die of heat-relat­ed caus­es annu­al­ly, and more than 80 per­cent of these vic­tims are over 60 years old.(3) As humid heat extremes become more fre­quent due to cli­mate change, sci­en­tists pre­dict that relat­ed health impacts will increase accord­ing­ly, lead­ing to tens of thou­sands of addi­tion­al heat-relat­ed pre­ma­ture deaths every sum­mer.(4) Com­mon heat-relat­ed ill­ness­es include heat stroke and exhaus­tion; heat stress can also cause or exac­er­bate car­dio­vas­cu­lar and kid­ney prob­lems.(5)

Extreme Weath­er Events

Extreme weath­er events exac­er­bat­ed by cli­mate change — includ­ing drought, heavy rain­fall, floods, and intense hur­ri­canes that feed off of warm ocean waters— cause death, injury, ill­ness, wors­en­ing of under­ly­ing med­ical con­di­tions, and adverse effects on men­tal health.(6) Hur­ri­canes Har­vey and Maria, for exam­ple, killed thou­sands of peo­ple in Hous­ton and Puer­to Rico, respec­tive­ly.(7) As extreme weath­er events become more fre­quent and intense, these risks to pub­lic health are expect­ed to worsen. 

Chem­i­cal Safety

Chem­i­cal safe­ty is a major pub­lic health con­cern at all times, but espe­cial­ly dur­ing extreme weath­er events. Extreme weath­er events can dis­lodge harm­ful chem­i­cals from soil, homes, indus­tri­al waste sites and oth­er sources, and dis­perse them into the air and water.(8) Exces­sive flood­ing caused by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey in 2017 led to mul­ti­ple fires and explo­sions at a chem­i­cal plant in Cros­by, Texas. More than 200 near­by res­i­dents were forced to evac­u­ate and 21 emer­gency respon­ders sought med­ical treat­ment after being exposed to the com­bust­ed chem­i­cals.(9) An inves­ti­ga­tion of the dis­as­ter con­duct­ed by the U.S. Chem­i­cal Safe­ty Board revealed that, although these types of severe weath­er events are becom­ing more intense and fre­quent, there is a sig­nif­i­cant lack of guid­ance in plan­ning for flood­ing and oth­er severe weath­er events in the chem­i­cal indus­try. (10)

After Hur­ri­cane Maria in 2017, researchers in Puer­to Rico found ele­vat­ed lev­els of poly­chlo­ri­nat­ed biphenyls (PCBs), a sus­pect­ed car­cino­gen, in res­i­dents of a bay­side town. The researchers hypoth­e­sized that PCBs from for­mer indus­tri­al sites near­by washed into the bay and the sur­round­ing area dur­ing the hur­ri­cane, expos­ing res­i­dents who sur­vived the storm to PCB-con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed fish and air.(11)

In West­lake, Louisiana, a fire at a chem­i­cal plant began when Hur­ri­cane Lau­ra hit in 2020. The fire released smoke con­tain­ing chlo­rine, nitro­gen oxide, and oth­er tox­ins that can be extreme­ly dan­ger­ous when inhaled, lead­ing author­i­ties to shut down the inter­state high­way near the facil­i­ty, issue stay-at-home orders for near­by res­i­dents, and instruct res­i­dents to close doors and win­dows to avoid inhal­ing the smoke.(12)

Super­fund Sites

Accord­ing to the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office, the effects of cli­mate change pose a threat to 60 per­cent of the Super­fund sites that are scat­tered across the U.S.(13) Par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cern­ing for pub­lic health are the effects of flood­ing caused by hur­ri­cane storm surges and sea lev­el rise, which can wash out and expose near­by res­i­dents to dan­ger­ous tox­ic sub­stances. For exam­ple, flood­wa­ters from Hur­ri­cane Har­vey com­pro­mised the con­tain­ment of haz­ardous chem­i­cals at the San Jac­in­to Waste Pits Super­fund site in Hous­ton, Texas. Flood­wa­ters from Hur­ri­cane Irene in 2011 caused the release of the can­cer-caus­ing agent ben­zene beyond the pro­tec­tive bar­ri­ers of the Amer­i­can Cyanamid Super­fund site in New Jer­sey. Sci­en­tists pre­dict that extreme coastal flood­ing caused by cli­mate change will pose a risk to more than 900 Super­fund sites with­in the next 20 years.(14)

Health Care

Extreme weath­er events also exac­er­bate exist­ing pub­lic health prob­lems by dis­rupt­ing crit­i­cal health care sys­tems and infra­struc­ture. Dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Sandy in 2012, six hos­pi­tals and 26 res­i­den­tial care facil­i­ties in New York City were closed, and thou­sands of res­i­dents who are reliant on home nurs­ing, per­son­al care atten­dants, med­ical equip­ment, and refrig­er­a­tion for main­tain­ing med­ica­tions were affect­ed by flood­ing and loss of pow­er.(15)

In Puer­to Rico, researchers found that inter­rup­tions to the island’s med­ical care sys­tems led to a sus­tained high mor­tal­i­ty rate in the months fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Maria in 2017.(16) One week after the hur­ri­cane made land­fall, only 11 of the island’s 69 hos­pi­tals had pow­er or fuel, and six months after, one in 10 per­ma­nent health cen­ters lacked con­sis­tent elec­tric­i­ty.(17) The rapid increase in the num­ber of health care work­ers leav­ing the island after the hur­ri­cane and a lack of fund­ing at both the fed­er­al and local lev­els has pre­vent­ed the island from rebuild­ing much of its health care infra­struc­ture, even three years after the hur­ri­cane.(18)


As the plan­et warms, wild­fires are becom­ing more fre­quent and intense world­wide. In the U.S., wild­fires burned more than twice as much land area between 2000 and 2018 as they did between 1985 and 1999.(19) Wild­fires not only present an imme­di­ate safe­ty risk to local res­i­dents, but also threat­en the health of more dis­tant com­mu­ni­ties, even those thou­sands of miles away,(20) through expo­sure to harm­ful air pol­lu­tants found in wild­fire smoke, which include par­tic­u­late mat­ter, ozone, and car­bon monox­ide.(21) Health effects asso­ci­at­ed with wild­fire smoke range from minor eye, nose, and throat irri­ta­tion to hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and death from severe res­pi­ra­to­ry issues.(22)

Vec­tor-Borne Illnesses

As the plan­et warms, dis­eases car­ried by vec­tors, such as mos­qui­toes, ticks, and fleas, are expect­ed to become more wide­spread.(23) Cli­mate change is alter­ing the geo­graph­ic range and preva­lence of dis­ease vec­tors that thrive in warm cli­mates, expos­ing a grow­ing por­tion of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion to ticks that car­ry Lyme dis­ease and mos­qui­toes that trans­mit West Nile, chikun­gun­ya, dengue, and Zika virus­es.(24) Researchers have pre­dict­ed that the num­ber of cas­es of Lyme dis­ease in the U.S. will rise an esti­mat­ed 20 per­cent by mid-cen­tu­ry.(25) Of 244 U.S. cities stud­ied by a team of researchers at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, 94 per­cent have seen an increase in the num­ber of dis­ease dan­ger days” dur­ing which res­i­dents are at a height­ened risk of con­tract­ing dis­eases spread by mos­qui­toes.(26)

Food Secu­ri­ty

The effects of cli­mate change — includ­ing extreme weath­er, expo­sure to pathogens and pest infes­ta­tions, and ris­ing lev­els of car­bon diox­ide — pose a seri­ous threat to food secu­ri­ty in the U.S.(27) Floods, droughts, and storms can cause sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to crop fields and warmer tem­per­a­tures can inhib­it the growth of cer­tain crops, includ­ing corn.(28) Sci­en­tists have pre­dict­ed that U.S. corn pro­duc­tion could fall by 18 per­cent by 2100 if glob­al tem­per­a­tures rise by 2°C — or worse, by 50 per­cent if glob­al tem­per­a­tures rise by 4°C.(29) High tem­per­a­tures can also increase the risk of crops being exposed to pathogens and tox­ins that cause food­borne ill­ness­es, and ele­vat­ed lev­els of car­bon diox­ide can dimin­ish the nutri­tion­al qual­i­ty of food by reduc­ing con­cen­tra­tions of dietary iron, zinc, pro­tein, and oth­er impor­tant nutri­ents. These impacts will dis­rupt food sup­ply chains, reduce access to food, and increase food prices.(30)

Water Secu­ri­ty

High tem­per­a­tures and heavy rain­fall and flood­ing due to cli­mate change pose a threat to water qual­i­ty and secu­ri­ty in the U.S. Warm­ing water tem­per­a­tures and increased stormwa­ter runoff trig­gered by more fre­quent and intense rain­fall can fos­ter harm­ful algae blooms and intro­duce tox­ic pathogens to both recre­ation­al waters and drink­ing water.(31) Dam­age to aging water and sewage infra­struc­ture caused by more severe storms and flood­ing also jeop­ar­dizes access to ade­quate clean drink­ing water. Just this sum­mer, 3,700 gal­lons of sewage spilled into a riv­er in North Car­oli­na as a result of intense rain dur­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Isa­ias.(32) Researchers pre­dict that by 2100, Chica­go will expe­ri­ence a 50 to 120 per­cent increase in over­flow events where stormwa­ter drainage sys­tems are over­whelmed and untreat­ed sewage flows into neigh­bor­ing water bod­ies.(33)

Men­tal Health

Cli­mate change can have seri­ous con­se­quences for men­tal health. Weath­er-relat­ed dis­as­ters can cause a range of men­tal health issues, from short-term stress and increased alco­hol and tobac­co use, to chron­ic anx­i­ety, depres­sion, post-trau­mat­ic stress, and sui­cide. The mere threat of cli­mate impacts and relat­ed uncer­tain­ty can also con­tribute to anx­i­ety and depres­sion.(35) In addi­tion, heat can affect men­tal health and cause mood changes and an increase in aggres­sive behav­ior.(36)

Men­tal health treat­ment after severe weath­er events and dis­as­ters is impor­tant to ensur­ing that these symp­toms do not per­sist, but fed­er­al pro­grams meant to aid sur­vivors strug­gling with men­tal health issues only reach a frac­tion of those who need help. Since Hur­ri­cane Har­vey in 2017, researchers found that 50 per­cent of Hous­ton-area res­i­dents suf­fered from pow­er­ful or severe emo­tion­al dis­tress, yet 70 per­cent of sur­vivors report­ed they did not receive men­tal health treat­ment.(37) Men­tal health prob­lems that go untreat­ed can linger long after a dis­as­ter, as evi­denced by a study con­duct­ed 12 years after Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na hit Louisiana in 2005, which revealed that one in five low-income moth­ers affect­ed by the storm still suf­fered from post-trau­mat­ic symp­toms.(38)

Citations - Health Effects of Climate Change

1 — Alli­son Crim­mins et al., Tʜᴇ Iᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛs ᴏꜰ Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Cʜᴀɴɢᴇ ᴏɴ Hᴜᴍᴀɴ Hᴇᴀʟᴛʜ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ Uɴɪᴛᴇᴅ Sᴛᴀᴛᴇs: A Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪꜰɪᴄ Assᴇssᴍᴇɴᴛ (2016), http://​dx​.doi​.org/​10​.​7930​/J0R4;

2 — Weath­er Relat­ed Fatal­i­ty and Injury Sta­tis­tics, Nᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ Wᴇᴀᴛʜᴇʀ Sᴇʀᴠɪᴄᴇ (2019), https://​www​.weath​er​.gov/​h​azsta…;

3 — Seniors at Risk: Heat and Cli­mate Change, Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Cᴇɴᴛʀᴀʟ (June 24, 2020), https://medialibrary.climatece…;

4 — Crim­mins et al., supra note 1, at 45

5 — Saman­tha Har­ring­ton, How cli­mate change threat­ens pub­lic health, Yᴀʟᴇ Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Cᴏɴɴᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴs (Aug. 19, 2019), https://yaleclimateconnections…;

6 — Kristie L. Ebi et al., Human Health, in Iᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛs, Rɪsᴋs, ᴀɴᴅ Aᴅᴀᴘᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ Uɴɪᴛᴇᴅ Sᴛᴀᴛᴇs: Fᴏᴜʀᴛʜ Nᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Assᴇssᴍᴇɴᴛ, Vᴏʟᴜᴍᴇ II 14 (2018), https://nca2018.globalchange.g…;

7 — CNN Edi­to­r­i­al Research, Hur­ri­cane Sta­tis­tics Fast Facts, CNN (updat­ed June 2, 2020), https://​www​.cnn​.com/​2013​/​05/31.

8 — Christo­pher Flavelle, Tox­ic Stew’ Stirred Up by Dis­as­ters Pos­es Long-Term Dan­ger, New Find­ings Show, N.Y. Tɪᴍᴇs (July 15, 2019), https://​www​.nytimes​.com/​2019/0;

9 — U.S. Cʜᴇᴍɪᴄᴀʟ Sᴀꜰᴇᴛʏ ᴀɴᴅ Hᴀᴢᴀʀᴅ Iɴᴠᴇsᴛɪɢᴀᴛɪᴏɴ Bᴏᴀʀᴅ, Exᴛʀᴇᴍᴇ Wᴇᴀᴛʜᴇʀ, Exᴛʀᴇᴍᴇ Cᴏɴsᴇǫᴜᴇɴᴄᴇs: CSB Iɴᴠᴇsᴛɪɢᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ Aʀᴋᴇᴍᴀ Cʀᴏsʙʏ Fᴀᴄɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴀɴᴅ Hᴜʀʀɪᴄᴀɴᴇ Hᴀʀᴠᴇʏ (2018), https://​www​.csb​.gov/​a​s​s​e​t​s/1/2;

10 — Extreme weath­er led to chem plant fire, haz­mat release, Iɴᴅᴜsᴛʀɪᴀʟ Sᴀꜰᴇᴛʏ ᴀɴᴅ Hʏɢɪᴇɴᴇ Nᴇᴡs (May 29, 2018), https://​www​.ishn​.com/​a​r​t​i​cles/…;

11 — Flavelle, supra note 8.

12 — Nick Miroff, Hur­ri­cane Lau­ra strikes Louisiana as Cat­e­go­ry 4 storm, bat­ter­ing Lake Charles area and bring­ing flood threat, Wᴀsʜ. Pᴏsᴛ (August 27, 2020), https://​www​.wash​ing​ton​post​.com….

13 — Gᴏᴠᴇʀɴᴍᴇɴᴛ Aᴄᴄᴏᴜɴᴛᴀʙɪʟɪᴛʏ Oꜰꜰɪᴄᴇ, Sᴜᴘᴇʀꜰᴜɴᴅ: EPA Sʜᴏᴜʟᴅ Tᴀᴋᴇ Aᴅᴅɪᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ Aᴄᴛɪᴏɴs ᴛᴏ Mᴀɴᴀɢᴇ Rɪsᴋs ꜰʀᴏᴍ Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Cʜᴀɴɢᴇ (2019), https://​www​.gao​.gov/​a​s​s​e​t​s/710.

14 — A Tox­ic Rela­tion­ship: Extreme Coastal Flood­ing and Super­fund Sites, Cᴇɴᴛᴇʀ ꜰᴏʀ Sᴄɪᴇɴᴄᴇ ᴀɴᴅ Dᴇᴍᴏᴄʀᴀᴄʏ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ Uɴɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ Cᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴᴇᴅ Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪsᴛs (2020), https://​www​.ucsusa​.org/​s​i​tes/d….

15 — Lessons Learned from Hur­ri­cane Sandy and Rec­om­men­da­tions for Improved Health­care and Pub­lic Health Response and Recov­ery for Future Cat­a­stroph­ic Events, Aᴍᴇʀɪᴄᴀɴ Cᴏʟʟᴇɢᴇ ᴏꜰ Eᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ Pʜʏsɪᴄɪᴀɴs (2015), https://​www​.acep​.org/​g​l​o​b​alass….

16 — Nis­hant Kishore et al., Mor­tal­i­ty in Puer­to Rico after Hur­ri­cane Maria, 379 N. Eɴɢʟ. J. Mᴇᴅ. 162 (2018), https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1056​/​N​EJMsa….

17 — Matt Kurht, Puer­to Rico’s health­care sys­tem slow­ly recov­er­ing 6 months after Hur­ri­cane Maria, Fɪᴇʀᴄᴇ Hᴇᴀʟᴛʜᴄᴀʀᴇ (Mar. 20, 2018), https://www.fiercehealthcare.c….

18 — Cather­ine Kim, A 13-year-old’s death high­lights Puer­to Rico’s post-Maria health care cri­sis, Vᴏx (Feb. 27, 2020), https://​www​.vox​.com/​i​d​e​n​t​ities….

19 — The Con­nec­tion Between Cli­mate Change and Wild­fires, Uɴɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ Cᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴᴇᴅ Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪsᴛs, https://​www​.ucsusa​.org/​r​e​sourc… (last updat­ed Mar. 112020).

20 — See, Michael Kodas & Eve­lyn Nieves, The Fires May be in Cal­i­for­nia, but the Smoke, and its Health Effects, Trav­el Across the Coun­try, Iɴsɪᴅᴇ Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Nᴇᴡs (Aug. 27, 2020), https://​insid​e​cli​mate​news​.org/….

21 — John R. Balmes, Where There’s Wild­fire, There’s Smoke, 378 N. Eɴɢʟ. J. Mᴇᴅ. 881 (2018), https://​www​.nejm​.org/​d​o​i​/​full/….

22 — Id.

23 — Crim­mins et al., supra note 1, at 131.

24 — Ebi et al., supra note 6, at 545.

25 — Igor Dumic & Edson Sev­erni­ni, Tick­ing Bomb”: The Impact of Cli­mate Change and the Inci­dence of Lyme Dis­ease, 2018 Cᴀɴᴀᴅɪᴀɴ Jᴏᴜʀɴᴀʟ ᴏꜰ Iɴꜰᴇᴄᴛɪᴏᴜs Dɪsᴇᴀsᴇs ᴀɴᴅ Mᴇᴅɪᴄᴀʟ Mɪᴄʀᴏʙɪᴏʟᴏɢʏ (2018), https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1155​/​2018/5.

26 — Mos­qui­to Dis­ease Dan­ger Days, Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Cᴇɴᴛʀᴀʟ (Aug. 8, 2018), https://medialibrary.climatece….

27 — Ebi et al., supra note 6, at 546.

28 — Har­ring­ton, supra note 5.

29 — Rene Cho, How Cli­mate Change Will Alter Our Food, Cᴏʟᴜᴍʙɪᴀ Uɴɪᴠ. Eᴀʀᴛʜ Iɴsᴛɪᴛᴜᴛᴇ (July 25, 2018), https://​blogs​.ei​.colum​bia​.edu/….

30 — Ebi et al., supra note 6, at 546.

31 — Id. at 545.

32 — 3,700 gal­lons of sewage spills in N.C. amid rain from Isa­ias, E&E Nᴇᴡs (Aug. 5, 2020), https://​www​.eenews​.net/​g​r​eenwi….

33 — Har­ring­ton, supra note 5.

34 — Ebi et al., supra note 6, at 546.

35 — Har­ring­ton, supra note 5.

36 — Ebi et al., supra note 6, at 546.

37 — Dean Rus­sell & Jamie Smith Hop­kins, Dis­as­ters are Dri­ving a Men­tal Health Cri­sis, Cᴛʀ. ꜰᴏʀ Pᴜʙ. Iɴᴛᴇɢʀɪᴛʏ (Aug. 25, 2020), https://​pub​licin​tegri​ty​.org/en….

38 — Id.

Health Effects of Burning Fossil Fuels

Air Pol­lu­tion

The burn­ing of fos­sil fuels is the world’s largest con­trib­u­tor to air pol­lu­tion and is a major glob­al pub­lic health con­cern. It releas­es a wide array of harm­ful pol­lu­tants, includ­ing par­tic­u­late mat­ter, ozone, nitro­gen diox­ide, sul­fur diox­ide, mer­cury, and oth­er haz­ardous air pol­lu­tants. The health effects of breath­ing pol­lut­ed air include reduced lung func­tion, asth­ma, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, preterm birth, and pre­ma­ture death.(39) Gen­er­al­ly, old­er peo­ple are more sus­cep­ti­ble to pre­ma­ture death due to air pol­lu­tion(40) while chil­dren are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble to asth­ma and impaired lung func­tion devel­op­ment.(41) Air pol­lu­tion, pre­dom­i­nant­ly from burn­ing fos­sil fuels, reduces world­wide aver­age life expectan­cy by near­ly three years.(42) If fos­sil fuel emis­sions were com­plete­ly elim­i­nat­ed, the glob­al aver­age life expectan­cy would increase by 1.1 years.(43)

In the U.S., more than 100 mil­lion peo­ple live in areas where pol­lu­tion exceeds nation­al stan­dards.(44) Research has shown that reduc­ing pol­lu­tion and improv­ing air qual­i­ty has sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive impacts on health. In South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, for exam­ple, reduc­tions in nitro­gen diox­ide and par­tic­u­late mat­ter (PM) over a 21-year peri­od led to 20 per­cent few­er asth­ma diag­noses in chil­dren.(45) Yet, research has shown that even pol­lu­tion at lev­els below nation­al stan­dards adverse­ly affects health, sig­nal­ing a need for stronger reg­u­la­tion and enforce­ment. A study of the Medicare pop­u­la­tion in the U.S. found sig­nif­i­cant evi­dence of increased risk of death from expo­sure to fine PM and ozone at con­cen­tra­tions below the Nation­al Ambi­ent Air Qual­i­ty Stan­dards.(46) Anoth­er study con­clud­ed that as air pol­lu­tion increas­es, the rate of mor­tal­i­ty increas­es almost lin­ear­ly, and that any lev­el of air pol­lu­tion is harm­ful to human health.(47)

Par­tic­u­late Mat­ter Pollution

PM pol­lu­tion is a mix­ture of sol­id par­ti­cles and liq­uid droplets found in the air and is the largest envi­ron­men­tal health risk fac­tor in the U.S., account­ing for 63 per­cent of deaths from envi­ron­men­tal caus­es.(48) PM pol­lu­tion varies in size, and is usu­al­ly clas­si­fied in two cat­e­gories — larg­er par­ti­cles with diam­e­ters up to 10 microm­e­ters and the more dead­ly(49) fine par­ti­cles with diam­e­ters 2.5 microm­e­ters or small­er.(50) The major­i­ty of PM2.5 is formed through chem­i­cal reac­tions in the air with pol­lu­tants emit­ted from pow­er plants, auto­mo­biles, and oth­er sources of fos­sil fuel emis­sions.(51)

Expo­sure to PM has been asso­ci­at­ed with a wide range of health prob­lems, includ­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, res­pi­ra­to­ry issues, lung can­cer, and adverse birth out­comes,(52) and is asso­ci­at­ed with up to 45,000 deaths annu­al­ly.(53) PM2.5 pol­lu­tion has more recent­ly been linked to hos­pi­tal­iza­tions for com­mon dis­eases, includ­ing those relat­ed to blood, skin, and kid­neys, even when dai­ly PM2.5 lev­els are below World Health Orga­ni­za­tion (WHO) air qual­i­ty guide­lines.(54) In fact, researchers have con­clud­ed that there is no lev­el of PM2.5 pol­lu­tion below which the risk of death is neg­li­gi­ble, and there­fore no safe” lev­el of PM2.5.(55)

Improve­ments in air qual­i­ty from reduc­ing PM pol­lu­tion have been shown to have sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive impacts on health. For exam­ple, reduc­ing PM pol­lu­tion could increase aver­age life expectan­cy by eight months in the wild­fire-prone areas in the Cen­tral Val­ley of Cal­i­for­nia and by two months in the indus­try-heavy areas of Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia and east­ern Ohio.(56) Unfor­tu­nate­ly, after declin­ing by 24.2 per­cent from 2009 to 2016, aver­age annu­al PM pol­lu­tion in the U.S. increased by 5.5 per­cent between 2016 and 2018. This increase was asso­ci­at­ed with 9,700 addi­tion­al pre­ma­ture deaths in 2018, rep­re­sent­ing $89 bil­lion in dam­ages.(57)

Ozone Pol­lu­tion

Ozone, the main ingre­di­ent in form­ing smog, is anoth­er excep­tion­al­ly dan­ger­ous air pol­lu­tant that results from burn­ing fos­sil fuels. Ozone is made up of nitro­gen oxides and volatile organ­ic chem­i­cals that devel­op in the atmos­phere after being emit­ted from tailpipes, pow­er plants, refiner­ies, and oth­er sources.(58) Expo­sure to ground-lev­el ozone is asso­ci­at­ed with many adverse health effects includ­ing pre­ma­ture death, res­pi­ra­to­ry hos­pi­tal admis­sions, cas­es of aggra­vat­ed asth­ma, lost days of school, and reduced pro­duc­tiv­i­ty among out­door work­ers.(59) More than one mil­lion deaths world­wide(60) and 51,000 deaths in the U.S. are asso­ci­at­ed with ground lev­el ozone pol­lu­tion every year.(61)

Coal Impacts on Pub­lic Health

Burn­ing coal releas­es a num­ber of harm­ful pol­lu­tants, includ­ing par­tic­u­late mat­ter, sul­fur diox­ide, nitro­gen diox­ide, and met­als such as mer­cury, arsenic, chromi­um, and oth­er known and pos­si­ble car­cino­gens. The pub­lic health con­se­quences of extract­ing, pro­cess­ing, and burn­ing coal include res­pi­ra­to­ry ill­ness, can­cer, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, kid­ney dis­ease, poor birth out­comes, poor qual­i­ty of life, men­tal health prob­lems, and death.(62) More than 3,000 deaths every year are attrib­ut­able to PM2.5 pol­lu­tion from U.S. coal-fired pow­er plants.(63) Expo­sure to mer­cury released from pow­er plants has been linked to an increased risk of dia­betes and autoim­mune dys­func­tion in adults and per­ma­nent neu­ro­log­i­cal dam­age in chil­dren.(64)

Research has shown that reg­u­la­tion and enforce­ment efforts aimed at reduc­ing emis­sions from coal-fired pow­er plants result in pos­i­tive impacts for pub­lic health.(65) For exam­ple, reduc­tions in sul­fur diox­ide emis­sions from coal-fired pow­er plants in Ken­tucky were asso­ci­at­ed with few­er local hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and emer­gency depart­ment vis­its due to asth­ma, as well as decreas­es in people’s use of res­cue inhalers.(66) Analy­sis by the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists found that clos­ing Illi­nois’ coal plants by 2030 and replac­ing them with clean ener­gy would pre­vent sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of heart attacks, hos­pi­tal admis­sions, inci­dents of chron­ic bron­chi­tis, and pre­ma­ture deaths.(67)

Coal-fired pow­er plants also harm pub­lic health by pro­duc­ing immense quan­ti­ties of coal ash, a byprod­uct of burn­ing coal that con­tains numer­ous tox­ic met­als includ­ing mer­cury, arsenic, lead, chromi­um, cad­mi­um, nick­el, zinc, and oth­ers.(68) There are at least 737 coal ash dumps in 43 states, near­ly all of which are con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing ground­wa­ter with tox­ins.(69) Pow­er plants typ­i­cal­ly dis­pose of coal ash in sur­face impound­ments, often unlined, which leak into sur­round­ing soil, ground­wa­ter and sur­face water, and are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly like­ly to be locat­ed near low-income com­mu­ni­ties. Breath­ing and ingest­ing coal ash tox­ins can cause a mul­ti­tude of health prob­lems includ­ing can­cer, car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems, and ner­vous sys­tem dam­age,(70) and research has doc­u­ment­ed increased health prob­lems in chil­dren who reside near coal ash impound­ments.(71)

Oil & Gas Pro­duc­tion and Pub­lic Health

More than 50 mil­lion Amer­i­cans live near oil and gas oper­a­tions that have mea­sured air pol­lu­tion lev­els exceed­ing the fed­er­al health stan­dard.(72) Oil and gas oper­a­tions are the lead­ing indus­tri­al source of smog-form­ing volatile organ­ic com­pounds, releas­ing numer­ous tox­ic chem­i­cals, such as hydro­gen sul­fide, toluene, xylene, ben­zene, and formalde­hyde, that have seri­ous pub­lic health impacts.(73) Expo­sure to air pol­lu­tion released by the oil and gas sec­tor is expect­ed to cause 2,000 pre­ma­ture deaths, 3,600 emer­gency room vis­its, 100,000 lost days of work, and over a mil­lion asth­ma exac­er­ba­tions annu­al­ly by 2025 and each year there­after, result­ing in annu­al health dam­ages of $13 to 26 bil­lion.(74) Stud­ies have also linked liv­ing near oil and gas wells to low­er birth weights, preterm births, and oth­er neg­a­tive birth out­comes in Col­orado, Penn­syl­va­nia, Okla­homa, and Texas. A study of mil­lions of birth records in Cal­i­for­nia found that preg­nant women liv­ing near the high­est-pro­duc­ing wells in the state were 40 per­cent more like­ly to have low birth weight babies than peo­ple liv­ing far­ther away or near inac­tive sites.(75)

Trans­porta­tion and Pub­lic Health

The trans­porta­tion sec­tor, which relies almost entire­ly on fos­sil fuels, is the largest source of U.S. green­house gas emis­sions and accounts for more than two-thirds of all oil burned in the U.S. every day.(76) Pol­lu­tion emit­ted by the trans­porta­tion sec­tor includes par­tic­u­late mat­ter, volatile organ­ic com­pounds, nitro­gen oxides, car­bon monox­ide, and sul­fur diox­ide, and caus­es a wide array of health impacts rang­ing from res­pi­ra­to­ry, car­dio­vas­cu­lar, and immune sys­tem prob­lems to can­cer and pre­ma­ture death.(77) In New York City alone, PM2.5 pol­lu­tion from motor vehi­cle emis­sions con­tributes to 320 deaths and 870 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and emer­gency depart­ment vis­its annu­al­ly.(78) As with near­ly all pol­lut­ing indus­tries, reduc­ing air pol­lu­tion from the trans­porta­tion sec­tor would have sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive impacts on pub­lic health. For exam­ple, stud­ies have found that imple­ment­ing clean trans­porta­tion poli­cies could pre­vent 120,000 pre­ma­ture deaths by 2030 and 14,000 deaths annu­al­ly there­after.(79)

Citations - Health Effects of Burning Fossil Fuels

39 — Clean­er Air Tied to Health­i­er Lungs in Kids, Nᴀᴛ. Iɴsᴛs. ᴏꜰ Hᴇᴀʟᴛʜ (Mar. 16, 2015), https://​www​.nih​.gov/​n​e​w​s​-​event… [here­inafter Clean­er Air].

40 — Neela Baner­jee, Breath­ing Pol­lut­ed Air Short­ens People’s Lives by an Aver­age of 3 Years, a New Study Finds, Iɴsɪᴅᴇ Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Nᴇᴡs (March 3, 2020), https://​insid​e​cli​mate​news​.org/….

41 — Clean­er Air, supra note 39.

42 — Jos Lelieveld et al., Loss of life expectan­cy from air pol­lu­tion com­pared to oth­er risk fac­tors: a world­wide per­spec­tive, 116 Cᴀʀᴅɪᴏᴠᴀsᴄᴜʟᴀʀ Rᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜ 1910 (2020), https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1093​/​c​vr/cv….

43 — Id.

44 — Christo­pher G. Nolte et al., Air Qual­i­ty, in Iᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛs, Rɪsᴋs, ᴀɴᴅ Aᴅᴀᴘᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ Uɴɪᴛᴇᴅ Sᴛᴀᴛᴇs: Fᴏᴜʀᴛʜ Nᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Assᴇssᴍᴇɴᴛ, Vᴏʟᴜᴍᴇ II 13 (2018), https://nca2018.globalchange.g….

45 — Asth­ma cas­es dropped when air pol­lu­tion declined, Nᴀᴛ. Iɴsᴛs. ᴏꜰ Hᴇᴀʟᴛʜ (June 18, 2019), https://​www​.nih​.gov/​n​e​w​s​-​event….

46 — Qian Di et al., Air Pol­lu­tion and Mor­tal­i­ty in the Medicare Pop­u­la­tion, 376 N. Eɴɢʟ. J. Mᴇᴅ. 2513 (2017), http://​doi​.org/​10​.​1056​/​N​E​JMoa1.

47 — Air pol­lu­tion linked to risk of pre­ma­ture death, Nᴀᴛ. Iɴsᴛs. ᴏꜰ Hᴇᴀʟᴛʜ (Jan. 9, 2018), https://​www​.nih​.gov/​n​e​w​s​-​event….

48 — Inequitable Expo­sure to Air Pol­lu­tion from Vehi­cles in the North­east and Mid-Atlantic, Uɴɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ Cᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴᴇᴅ Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪsᴛs (June 21, 2019), https://​www​.ucsusa​.org/​r​e​sourc….

49 — The Weight of Num­bers: Air Pol­lu­tion and PM2.5, Uɴᴅᴀʀᴋ (2018), https://​undark​.org/​b​r​e​a​t​h​takin….

50 — Clean­er Air, supra note 39.

51 — Par­tic­u­late Mat­ter (PM) Basics, U.S. Eɴᴠᴛʟ. Pʀᴏᴛ. Aɢᴇɴᴄʏ, https://​www​.epa​.gov/​p​m​-​p​o​lluti… (last vis­it­ed Sept. 142020).

52 — Par­ti­cle Pol­lu­tion, U.S. Cᴛʀ. ꜰᴏʀ Dɪsᴇᴀsᴇ Cᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ ᴀɴᴅ Pʀᴇᴠᴇɴᴛɪᴏɴ https://​www​.cdc​.gov/​a​i​r​/​p​artic… (last updat­ed Sept. 42020).

53 — U.S. Eɴᴠᴛʟ. Pʀᴏᴛ. Aɢᴇɴᴄʏ, Pᴏʟɪᴄʏ Assᴇssᴍᴇɴᴛ ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ Rᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ Nᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ Aᴍʙɪᴇɴᴛ Aɪʀ Qᴜᴀʟɪᴛʏ Sᴛᴀɴᴅᴀʀᴅs ꜰᴏʀ Pᴀʀᴛɪᴄᴜʟᴀᴛᴇ Mᴀᴛᴛᴇʀ (2020), https://​www​.epa​.gov/​s​i​t​e​s​/prod….

54 — Short-term expo­sure to air pol­lu­tion linked with hos­pi­tal admis­sions, sub­stan­tial costs, Tʜᴇ Hᴀʀᴠᴀʀᴅ Gᴀᴢᴇᴛᴛᴇ (Dec. 23, 2019), https://​news​.har​vard​.edu/​gazet….

55 — Di et al., supra note 46.

56 — Michael Green­stone & Claire Fan, Air Qual­i­ty Life Index Annu­al Update, Eɴᴇʀɢʏ Pᴏʟɪᴄʏ Iɴsᴛ. ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ Uɴɪᴠ. ᴏꜰ Cʜɪᴄᴀɢᴏ (July 2020), https://​aqli​.epic​.uchica​go​.edu….

57 — Karen Clay & Nicholas Z. Muller, Recent Increas­es in Air Pol­lu­tion: Evi­dence and Impli­ca­tions for Mor­tal­i­ty, Nᴀᴛ. Bᴜʀᴇᴀᴜ ᴏꜰ Eᴄᴏɴᴏᴍɪᴄ Rᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜ (2019), http://​doi​.org/​10​.​3386​/​W​26381.

58 — Ozone, Aᴍ. Lᴜɴɢ Assɴ., https://​www​.lung​.org/​c​l​e​a​n-air… (last updat­ed Apr. 202020).

59 — Nolte et al., supra note 44, at 518.

60 — Andy Haines & Kristie Ebi, The Imper­a­tive for Cli­mate Action to Pro­tect Health, 380 N. Eɴɢʟ. J. Mᴇᴅ. 263 (2019), http://​doi​.org/​10​.​1056​/​N​E​JMra1.

61 — Health and Eco­nom­ic Ben­e­fits of 2°C Cli­mate Pol­i­cy: Hear­ing on The Dev­as­tat­ing Impacts of Cli­mate Change on Health” before the H. Comm. on Over­sight and Reform, 116th Cong. (2020) (tes­ti­mo­ny of Drew Shin­dell, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sor of Earth Sci­ences, Nicholas School of the Envi­ron­ment), https://​over​sight​.house​.gov/si….

62 — Michael Hendryx et al., Impacts of Coal Use on Health, 41 Aɴɴᴜᴀʟ Rᴇᴠɪᴇᴡs 397 (2020) https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1146​/​a​nnure….

63 — Rais­ing Aware­ness of the Health Impacts of Coal Plant Pol­lu­tion, Cʟᴇᴀɴ Aɪʀ Tᴀsᴋ Fᴏʀᴄᴇ https://​www​.catf​.us/​e​d​u​c​a​tiona… (last vis­it­ed Sept. 14, 2020) [here­inafter Rais­ing Awareness].

64 — Mass­a­chu­setts et al., Com­ment Let­ter on Pro­posed Nation­al Emis­sion Stan­dards for Haz­ardous Air Pol­lu­tants Coal- and Oil-Fired Elec­tric Util­i­ty Steam Gen­er­at­ing Units – Recon­sid­er­a­tion of Sup­ple­men­tal Find­ing and Resid­ual Risk and Tech­nol­o­gy Review (Apr. 17, 2019) (state com­ments in oppo­si­tion to pro­posed revers­ing of the find­ing in the MATS rule).

65 — Rais­ing Aware­ness, supra note 63.

66 — Drop in coal pow­er plant emis­sions asso­ci­at­ed with asth­ma improve­ments, Nᴀᴛ. Iɴsᴛs. ᴏꜰ Hᴇᴀʟᴛʜ (Apr. 21, 2020), https://​www​.nih​.gov/​n​e​w​s​-​event….

67 — Soot to Solar: Illi­nois’ Clean Ener­gy Tran­si­tion, Uɴɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ Cᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴᴇᴅ Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪsᴛs (Oct. 24, 2018), https://​www​.ucsusa​.org/​r​e​sourc….

68 — Hendryx et al., supra note 62, at 404.

69 — Map­ping the Coal Ash Con­t­a­m­i­na­tion, Eᴀʀᴛʜᴊᴜsᴛɪᴄᴇ (Nov. 6, 2019), https://​earth​jus​tice​.org/​featu….

70 — Harm to Human Health from Breath­ing and Ingest­ing Coal Ash Tox­i­cants, Eᴀʀᴛʜᴊᴜsᴛɪᴄᴇ, https://​earth​jus​tice​.org/​featu… (last vis­it­ed Sept. 142020).

71 — Hendryx et al., supra note 62, at 405.

72 — Methane Pol­lu­tion from the Oil & Gas Indus­try Harms Pub­lic Health, Eɴᴠᴛʟ. Dᴇꜰᴇɴsᴇ Fᴜɴᴅ, https://​www​.edf​.org/​s​i​t​e​s​/defa… (last vis­it­ed Sept. 14, 2020) [here­inafter Methane Pollution].

73 — Id.

74 — Methane Leaks from Oil & Gas Explo­ration: A Health Night­mare, Nᴀᴛᴜʀᴀʟ Rᴇsᴏᴜʀᴄᴇs Dᴇꜰᴇɴsᴇ Cᴏᴜɴᴄɪʟ (Dec. 04, 2018), https://​www​.nrdc​.org/​e​x​p​e​rts/v….

75 — Emi­ly Doo­ley, Cal­i­for­nia Study Finds Low­er Birth Weights Near Oil, Gas Wells, Bʟᴏᴏᴍʙᴇʀɢ Lᴀᴡ Nᴇᴡs (Jan. 27, 2020), https://​www​.bloomber​glaw​.com/d….

76 — The Impacts of Oil, Uɴɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ Cᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴᴇᴅ Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪsᴛs, https://​www​.ucsusa​.org/​t​r​anspo… (last vis­it­ed Sept. 142020).

77 — Cars, Trucks, Bus­es and Air Pol­lu­tion, Uɴɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ Cᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴᴇᴅ Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪsᴛs, https://​www​.ucsusa​.org/​r​e​sourc… (last updat­ed July 192018).

78 — Iyad Kheir­bek, The con­tri­bu­tion of motor vehi­cle emis­sions to ambi­ent fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter pub­lic health impacts in New York City: a health bur­den assess­ment, 15 Eɴᴠᴛʟ. Hᴇᴀʟᴛʜ 89 (2016) http://​doi​.org/​10​.​1186​/​s​12940-….

79 — Haines & Ebi, supra note 60.

Environmental Justice

The toll of cli­mate change on human health is a seri­ous envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice issue. Although all Amer­i­cans are vul­ner­a­ble to the health impacts of cli­mate change, these impacts are not felt equal­ly across the coun­try. Peo­ple of col­or, Indige­nous peo­ples, low-income com­mu­ni­ties, immi­grant groups, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, chil­dren, preg­nant women, and old­er adults are more sus­cep­ti­ble to many of the health harms relat­ed to cli­mate change and fos­sil fuel emis­sions.(80) Ensur­ing that all peo­ple regard­less of race, col­or, nation­al ori­gin or income are includ­ed and treat­ed equal­ly in the devel­op­ment, imple­men­ta­tion, and enforce­ment of the laws and reg­u­la­tions mit­i­gat­ing the effects of cli­mate change is cru­cial to pro­tect­ing the health of all Americans.

Cli­mate Impacts

Lim­it­ed eco­nom­ic resources and dete­ri­o­rat­ing infra­struc­ture are some of the bar­ri­ers to com­mu­ni­ties’ abil­i­ty to recov­er after expe­ri­enc­ing extreme weath­er events, increas­ing their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to cli­mate-relat­ed health effects. In the wake of Hur­ri­canes Kat­ri­na and Sandy, many envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice com­mu­ni­ties expe­ri­enced increased ill­ness and injury, death, and dis­place­ment due to poor-qual­i­ty hous­ing, lack of access to emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tions, lack of access to trans­porta­tion, inad­e­quate access to health care ser­vices and med­ica­tions, lim­it­ed post-dis­as­ter employ­ment, and lim­it­ed or no health and prop­er­ty insur­ance.(81)

In 2017, three hur­ri­canes impact­ed the Unit­ed States and caused severe dam­age. Yet, exist­ing inequal­i­ties and the fed­er­al government’s abysmal response after Hur­ri­cane Maria in Puer­to Rico result­ed in long-last­ing chal­lenges to the island’s recov­ery. Puer­to Ricans do not have access to many of the ben­e­fits of the Afford­able Care Act and, there­fore, rely on pub­lic pro­grams like com­mu­ni­ty health cen­ters, Med­ic­aid, and Medicare for health­care. After the storm hit, these severe­ly under­fund­ed pro­grams were not able to meet the health needs of the island.(82) In addi­tion, com­pared to the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency’s (FEMA) response after hur­ri­canes made land­fall in Texas and Flori­da in the same year, there are vast dif­fer­ences in the num­ber of sup­plies and per­son­nel that FEMA deployed to Puer­to Rico. These dis­crep­an­cies com­pound­ed with the wide­spread dis­rup­tions to already frag­ile med­ical sys­tems on the island like­ly con­tributed to Hur­ri­cane Maria being one of the dead­liest storms in U.S. his­to­ry.(83)

In some areas of the coun­try, cli­mate change is per­ma­nent­ly dis­plac­ing peo­ple from their homes, cre­at­ing cli­mate refugees. In Alas­ka, the loss of sea ice due to abnor­mal­ly high tem­per­a­tures and unusu­al weath­er pat­terns is caus­ing dra­mat­ic coastal ero­sion, threat­en­ing the exis­tence of 31 Native coastal and riv­er com­mu­ni­ties. In the small vil­lage New­tok, for exam­ple, ero­sion and flood­ing threat­en the safe­ty and well­be­ing of res­i­dents and have forced many of them to relo­cate.(84) Off the coast of Louisiana, repeat­ed dev­as­ta­tion from mul­ti­ple hur­ri­canes, the loss of land­mass due to sea lev­el rise and ero­sion, and oil and gas devel­op­ment are also forc­ing res­i­dents of bay­ou com­mu­ni­ties to relo­cate or make plans to relo­cate if these con­di­tions con­tin­ue to wors­en.(85)

Pol­i­cy fail­ures in areas out­side of pub­lic health and envi­ron­men­tal pol­i­cy have also led to envi­ron­men­tal injus­tice due to cli­mate impacts. Evi­dence sug­gests that redlin­ing poli­cies of the 20th cen­tu­ry, which seg­re­gat­ed cities and divert­ed invest­ments away from com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, have led to urban heat islands that con­tin­ue to dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact these neigh­bor­hoods.(86) Red­lined neigh­bor­hoods in more than 100 U.S. cities are more like­ly to have few­er trees and parks that cool the air and more asphalt and high­ways that radi­ate heat. On aver­age, these neigh­bor­hoods are 5°F warmer than non-red­lined dis­tricts, lead­ing to a high­er risk of heat­stroke and oth­er heat-relat­ed ill­ness­es for these res­i­dents.(87) Even cities that have enact­ed poli­cies to com­bat the effects of past hous­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion poli­cies still expe­ri­ence dif­fer­ences in tem­per­a­tures of as much as 12.5°F between his­tor­i­cal­ly red­lined neigh­bor­hoods and non-red­lined neigh­bor­hoods.(88) As the effects of cli­mate change lead to more days of extreme heat, these com­mu­ni­ties will feel the great­est impact.

Pol­lu­tion Impacts

Low-income com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or are more like­ly to be locat­ed near pol­lut­ing indus­tries and be exposed to pol­lut­ed air.(89) Peo­ple of col­or are near­ly twice as like­ly as white peo­ple to live with­in one mile of chem­i­cal facil­i­ties, and chil­dren of col­or make up more than two-thirds of the chil­dren that live in this zone.(90) A study of the bur­den of PM-emit­ting facil­i­ties on sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties found that peo­ple liv­ing in pover­ty had 1.4 times more expo­sure to PM pol­lu­tion than the over­all pop­u­la­tion, and peo­ple of col­or had 1.3 times more expo­sure.(91)

In Impe­r­i­al Coun­ty, Cal­i­for­nia, res­i­dents suf­fer from poor air qual­i­ty due to high lev­els of ozone pol­lu­tion from Mex­i­cali, a large city across the bor­der in Mex­i­co. It is well-doc­u­ment­ed that res­i­dents of Impe­r­i­al Coun­ty expe­ri­ence above aver­age rates of asth­ma, and high pover­ty and unem­ploy­ment rates and lan­guage bar­ri­ers pre­vent res­i­dents from receiv­ing ade­quate med­ical care. Yet, the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) waived require­ments under the Clean Air Act to clean up the air in Impe­r­i­al Coun­ty because much of the air pol­lu­tion comes from across the U.S.-Mexico bor­der.(92)

Researchers have also found that envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice com­mu­ni­ties are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly locat­ed near oil and gas facil­i­ties. For instance, over 1 mil­lion Black peo­ple live in coun­ties with a risk of can­cer from tox­ins emit­ted by nat­ur­al gas facil­i­ties above EPA’s lev­el of con­cern,” and more than 6.7 mil­lion Black peo­ple live in the 91 coun­ties in the U.S. with oil refiner­ies.(93) Wells, pipelines, and com­pres­sor sta­tions are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly locat­ed in low-income, non-white, and mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties, where they may leak gas, gen­er­ate noise, and endan­ger health while pro­duc­ing no local ben­e­fits.(94) The loca­tion of these oil and gas facil­i­ties is undoubt­ed­ly a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the 138,000 asth­ma attacks and 101,000 lost school days that Black chil­dren expe­ri­ence each year.(95)

In addi­tion, the trans­porta­tion sec­tor places an exces­sive bur­den of air pol­lu­tion on envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice com­mu­ni­ties. A study of air pol­lu­tion from cars, trucks, and bus­es in the North­east and Mid-Atlantic found that com­mu­ni­ties of col­or are exposed to 66 per­cent more PM2.5 pol­lu­tion than white com­mu­ni­ties(96); and an assess­ment of the health bur­den of vehi­cle emis­sions in New York City con­clud­ed that high pover­ty neigh­bor­hoods are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact­ed by ozone and PM2.5 pol­lu­tion.(97)

Citations - Environmental Justice

80 — Crim­mins et al., supra note 1, at 249.

81 — Id. at 253.

82 — David Blu­men­thal & Shanoor Seer­vai, What Hur­ri­cane Maria’s Death Toll Reveals About Health Care in Puer­to Rico, Tʜᴇ Cᴏᴍᴍᴏɴᴡᴇᴀʟᴛʜ Fᴜɴᴅ (June 7, 2018),‑h….

83 — Id.

84 — Geof Koss, We can­not wait.’ Sink­ing Alas­ka vil­lage finds new home, E&E Nᴇᴡs (Sept. 4 2019), https://​www​.eenews​.net/​s​t​ories….

85 — Annie Snider, Let­ter from Louisiana: It’s Not Going To Be Alright’, Pᴏʟɪᴛɪᴄᴏ (Sept. 1 2017), https://​www​.politi​co​.com/​magaz….

86 — Brad Plumer & Nad­ja Popovich, How Decades of Racist Hous­ing Pol­i­cy Left Neigh­bor­hoods Swel­ter­ing, N.Y. Tɪᴍᴇs (Aug. 24 2020), https://​www​.nytimes​.com/​i​ntera…®i_id=96909927§ion_index=2§ion_name=three_more_big_stories&segment_id=36808&te=1&user_id=ab7270241d0d903428af42eb1eace88a.

87 — Daniel Cusick, Past Racist Redlin­ing’ Prac­tices Increased Cli­mate Bur­den on Minor­i­ty Neigh­bor­hoods, Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪꜰɪᴄ Aᴍᴇʀɪᴄᴀɴ (Jan. 21 2020), https://www.scientificamerican….

88 — Id.

89 — Ihad Mikati, Dis­par­i­ties in Dis­tri­b­u­tion of Par­tic­u­late Mat­ter Emis­sion Sources by Race and Pover­ty Sta­tus, 108 Aᴍ. Jᴏᴜʀɴᴀʟ ᴏꜰ Pᴜʙ. Hᴇᴀʟᴛʜ 480 (2018), https://​doi​.org/​10​.​2105​/​A​JPH.2.

90 — Aman­da Star­buck & Ronald White, Liv­ing in the Shad­ow of Dan­ger: Pover­ty, Race, and Unequal Chem­i­cal Facil­i­ty Haz­ards, Cᴛʀ. ꜰᴏʀ Eꜰꜰᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ Gᴏᴠᴇʀɴᴍᴇɴᴛ (2018), https://www.foreffectivegov.or….

91 — Mikati, supra note 89.

92 — Charles Cor­bet, Fight­ing for Clean Air in Impe­r­i­al Coun­ty, Cal­i­for­nia, Lᴇɢᴀʟ Pʟᴀɴᴇᴛ (Aug. 27, 2020), https://​legal​-plan​et​.org/​2020/….

93 — Les­ley Fleis­chman & Mar­cus Franklin, Fumes Across the Fence-Line: The Health Impacts of Air Pol­lu­tion from Oil & Gas Facil­i­ties on African Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ties, Cʟᴇᴀɴ Aɪʀ Tᴀsᴋ Fᴏʀᴄᴇ (Nov. 2017), http://​www​.catf​.us/​w​p​-​c​o​n​tent/….

94 — Philip Lan­dri­g­an et al., The False Promise of Nat­ur­al Gas, 382 N. Eɴɢʟ. J. Mᴇᴅ. 104 (2020), http://​doi​.org/​10​.​1056​/​N​E​JMp19.

95 — Fleis­chman & Franklin, supra note 93.

96 — In the North­east, Com­mu­ni­ties of Col­or Breathe 66% More Air Pol­lu­tion from Vehi­cles, Uɴɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ Cᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴᴇᴅ Sᴄɪᴇɴᴛɪsᴛs (June 27, 2019), https://​www​.ucsusa​.org/​a​b​out/n….

97 — Kheir­bek, supra note 78.

Trump Administration Climate Rollbacks

Afford­able Clean Ener­gy Rule

One of the Trump administration’s most sig­nif­i­cant anti-envi­ron­ment ini­tia­tives is the so-called Afford­able Clean Ener­gy” rule, a reg­u­la­to­ry effort that pro­tects the fos­sil fuel indus­try at the expense of our cli­mate, the envi­ron­ment, and pub­lic health. The rule replaced the Clean Pow­er Plan, final­ized by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion in 2015, which would have estab­lished the first nation­wide and state-based lim­its on green­house gas emis­sions from fos­sil fuel-fired pow­er plants. Reduc­tions in harm­ful air pol­lu­tants under the Clean Pow­er Plan would have avoid­ed at least 2,700 to 6,600 pre­ma­ture deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asth­ma attacks in chil­dren annu­al­ly by 2030.(98)

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion, how­ev­er, ignored the health and cli­mate ben­e­fits of reduced reliance on fos­sil fuels, final­iz­ing a sig­nif­i­cant­ly watered-down replace­ment rule in June 2019. The replace­ment rule is based on an unlaw­ful­ly restric­tive appli­ca­tion of the Clean Air Act which vio­lates the agency’s oblig­a­tion to reduce car­bon emis­sions. Con­se­quent­ly, as a 23-state coali­tion of state attor­neys gen­er­al point­ed out in com­ments object­ing to the rule, the roll­back will result in an increase of 100 mil­lion tons of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions and lead to an addi­tion­al 1,630 pre­ma­ture deaths, 120,000 asth­ma attacks, 140,000 missed school days, and 48,000 lost work days in 2030 rel­a­tive to the Clean Pow­er Plan.(99) Giv­en the enor­mous stakes for pub­lic health and the envi­ron­ment, state attor­neys gen­er­al are chal­leng­ing the final rule in court. 

Clean Car Standards

The 2012 Clean Car Stan­dards were a joint effort between the EPA, the Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion, the Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board and car man­u­fac­tur­ers to lim­it green­house gas emis­sions by grad­u­al­ly rais­ing fuel effi­cien­cy stan­dards for new pas­sen­ger vehi­cles and light trucks. Despite the clear health and eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits of these stan­dards, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion replaced them with sig­nif­i­cant­ly weak­ened stan­dards and revoked California’s Clean Air Act waiv­er to set its own, more strin­gent stan­dards. As a coali­tion of state attor­neys gen­er­al empha­sized in com­ments on the roll­back, the watered-down stan­dards will not make Amer­i­cans safer, as the flawed analy­sis pre­sent­ed by the admin­is­tra­tion argued.(101) In fact, the addi­tion­al air pol­lu­tion that will result from the rule is expect­ed to cause 18,500 pre­ma­ture deaths, 250,000 more asth­ma attacks, and 350,000 addi­tion­al res­pi­ra­to­ry ail­ments due to air pol­lu­tion by 2050. The Trump administration’s so-called SAFE Vehi­cles” rule, which 25 state attor­neys gen­er­al are chal­leng­ing in court, will result in increased health care costs for Amer­i­cans, lost days of work and school, and a net cost to soci­ety of $13.1 bil­lion.(102)

Reg­u­lat­ing Methane Emissions

The Trump administration’s efforts to roll back reg­u­la­tions that reduce methane emis­sions from the oil and gas indus­try will have seri­ous pub­lic health con­se­quences due to both the sig­nif­i­cant impacts that methane has on the cli­mate and the harm­ful pol­lu­tants released along­side methane by oil and gas oper­a­tions. Sci­en­tists have con­clud­ed that imme­di­ate and sub­stan­tial reduc­tions in methane emis­sions are nec­es­sary to lim­it warm­ing by 1.5°C by 2050.(103)

New and Exist­ing Sources of Methane Emissions

Despite the over­whelm­ing evi­dence of methane’s impact on the warm­ing cli­mate, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has loos­ened or elim­i­nat­ed reg­u­la­tions for both new and exist­ing sources of methane emis­sions from oil and gas oper­a­tions. After unlaw­ful­ly delay­ing imple­men­ta­tion of ele­ments of an Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion rule set­ting New Source Per­for­mance Stan­dards (NSPS) for new and mod­i­fied sources of methane emis­sions, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion final­ized its own replace­ment rule essen­tial­ly remov­ing all methane con­trols on the oil and gas indus­try. The EPA acknowl­edged that its rule will increase methane emis­sions by 400,000 tons, volatile organ­ic com­pounds emis­sions by 11,000 tons, and haz­ardous air pol­lu­tants by about 330 tons between 2021 and 2030 as com­pared to the 2016 stan­dards.(104) As not­ed by a coali­tion of attor­neys gen­er­al in a com­ment let­ter oppos­ing the roll­back, these changes will inter­fere with states’ abil­i­ty to meet the 2015 Nation­al Ambi­ent Air Qual­i­ty Stan­dards (NAAQS) for ozone, jeop­ar­diz­ing the health of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.(105)

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has also refused to reg­u­late exist­ing sources of methane emis­sions from oil and gas oper­a­tions, a Clean Air Act require­ment trig­gered by the pro­mul­ga­tion of reg­u­la­tions for new sources — a refusal that state attor­neys gen­er­al are chal­leng­ing in court.(106)

Methane Waste Prevention

The Trump administration’s attempts to nul­li­fy the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 2016 methane Waste Pre­ven­tion Rule are anoth­er exam­ple of its fail­ure to reduce methane emis­sions from the oil and gas indus­try. The rule was intend­ed to reduce waste­ful emis­sions of nat­ur­al gas from vent­ing, flar­ing and equip­ment leaks dur­ing oil and gas pro­duc­tion activ­i­ties on fed­er­al and trib­al lands. How­ev­er, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has launched mul­ti­ple attempts to repeal the rule and aban­don emis­sions reduc­tions total­ing 175,000180,000 tons of methane, 250,000267,000 tons of volatile organ­ic com­pounds, and 1,8602,030 tons of oth­er tox­ic air pol­lu­tants each year.

After the court sided with the state attor­neys gen­er­al and blocked BLM’s delay of the rule in 2018, the agency released a rescis­sion rule repeal­ing key require­ments that pre­vent waste of nat­ur­al gas on pub­lic lands. State attor­neys gen­er­al again sued BLM, point­ing out its fail­ure to con­sid­er the envi­ron­men­tal impacts of the rule before pro­mul­gat­ing it and to account for the glob­al costs of increased methane emis­sions.(107) In July 2020, the court ruled in favor of the attor­neys gen­er­al, vacat­ing the 2018 rescis­sion rule and reim­ple­ment­ing the 2016 Waste Pre­ven­tion Rule.(108)

Land­fill Methane Emissions

State attor­neys gen­er­al are also chal­leng­ing the EPA’s plan to delay imple­men­ta­tion of Oba­ma-era stan­dards on methane emis­sions from sol­id waste land­fills, the third-largest source of human-relat­ed methane emis­sions in the Unit­ed States.(109) The EPA esti­mat­ed that these reg­u­la­tions would yield methane emis­sion reduc­tions of approx­i­mate­ly 330,000 met­ric tons per year by 2025, yet the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has delayed imple­men­ta­tion until 2021.(110) Land­fills also release haz­ardous air pol­lu­tants and VOCs, and any delay in mit­i­gat­ing these emis­sions has an imme­di­ate, adverse impact on the health of com­mu­ni­ties locat­ed near land­fills.(111)

Par­tic­u­late Mat­ter NAAQS

PM pol­lu­tion is reg­u­lat­ed under the Clean Air Act’s NAAQS pro­gram as a cri­te­ria air pol­lu­tant, and review of NAAQS is required every five years. Since the last review was com­plet­ed in 2012, a wealth of new evi­dence sup­ports more strin­gent stan­dards for PM pol­lu­tion in order to bet­ter pro­tect human health and wel­fare. Despite the over­whelm­ing con­sen­sus in the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty about the reli­a­bil­i­ty of this evi­dence, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion in April 2020 pro­posed not to strength­en NAAQS.(112) In com­ments crit­i­ciz­ing the pro­posed deci­sion, state attor­neys gen­er­al high­light­ed the inad­e­qua­cy of the EPA’s deci­sion, par­tic­u­lar­ly its con­clu­sion that leav­ing the PM NAAQS unchanged will have no dis­pro­por­tion­ate impact on minor­i­ty or oth­er at-risk groups.(113) Sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence whol­ly con­tra­dicts this con­clu­sion, and the EPA’s will­ing­ness to so egre­gious­ly dis­re­gard this and all the oth­er evi­dence point­ing to the need for more strin­gent NAAQS for PM is a threat to the health of mil­lions of Americans. 

Mer­cury and Air Tox­i­cs Standards

The Mer­cury and Air Tox­i­cs Stan­dards (MATS) rule reg­u­lates emis­sions of mer­cury, acid gas­es and oth­er tox­ic pol­lu­tants from pow­er plants under the Clean Air Act. The coal-fired pow­er plants that are sub­ject to the MATS rule are respon­si­ble for more haz­ardous air pol­lu­tion than any oth­er indus­tri­al pol­lu­tion source, accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Lung Asso­ci­a­tion.(114) Since their imple­men­ta­tion begin­ning in 2012, the stan­dards have also been suc­cess­ful in reduc­ing oth­er pow­er plant pol­lu­tants, includ­ing par­tic­u­late mat­ter. In total, the MATS rule has result­ed in 4,200 to 11,000 avoid­ed pre­ma­ture deaths, 2,800 few­er cas­es of chron­ic bron­chi­tis, 830 few­er hos­pi­tal admis­sions for res­pi­ra­to­ry symp­toms, and 1,800 few­er hos­pi­tal admis­sions for car­dio­vas­cu­lar symp­toms.(115)

How­ev­er, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion recent­ly reversed the Oba­ma administration’s deter­mi­na­tion that the MATS rule is appro­pri­ate and nec­es­sary” under the Clean Air Act, based on a flawed cost-ben­e­fit analy­sis that dis­count­ed the pub­lic health ben­e­fits of reduc­ing mer­cury pol­lu­tion and dis­re­gard­ed bil­lions of dol­lars of co-benefits.The roll­back irra­tional­ly requires the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) to no longer take into account the entire­ty of health ben­e­fits that flow from con­trol­ling mer­cury emis­sions when set­ting pol­lu­tion stan­dards, set­ting a dan­ger­ous prece­dent that could crip­ple the agency’s air pol­lu­tion pro­gram. A coali­tion of state attor­neys gen­er­al are chal­leng­ing the rever­sal in court, and have also stepped in to pro­tect the MATS rule from an indus­try-led law­suit, warn­ing that the cur­rent EPA can­not be expect­ed to faith­ful­ly defend it.

Coal Ash

Reg­u­la­tion of the dis­pos­al of coal ash, the tox­ic remains of coal burned in pow­er plants, is essen­tial for pro­tect­ing the drink­ing water of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion, how­ev­er, has issued sev­er­al rule­mak­ings weak­en­ing these reg­u­la­tions, includ­ing a pro­pos­al to extend dead­lines for clos­ing coal ash impound­ments as far out as 2028, a pro­pos­al that would allow increased dis­charges of pol­lu­tants such as arsenic, lead, mer­cury, and sele­ni­um into water­ways, and a pro­pos­al that would allow many impound­ments, includ­ing those with a his­to­ry of leak­ing, to poten­tial­ly remain open indef­i­nite­ly.(116)

As point­ed out in sev­er­al com­ment let­ters by state attor­neys gen­er­al object­ing to these pro­pos­als, the EPA has con­sis­tent­ly ignored the over­whelm­ing evi­dence of the dan­gers to the envi­ron­ment and pub­lic health posed by unlined or leak­ing coal ash impound­ments.(117) For instance, the Resource Con­ser­va­tion and Recov­ery Act (RCRA) requires that dumps pose no rea­son­able prob­a­bil­i­ty of adverse effects on health or the envi­ron­ment from dis­pos­al of sol­id waste,”(118) yet unlined impound­ments have a 9.1 per­cent chance of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing drink­ing water wells with­in one mile.(119) The EPA also admit­ted that recent data sug­gests a greater num­ber of impound­ments are leak­ing than the agency orig­i­nal­ly esti­mat­ed dur­ing the pre­vi­ous rule­mak­ing in 2015, yet pro­posed no new risk assess­ment to eval­u­ate the impacts of the pro­posed changes. Rather than ensure pub­lic health is pro­tect­ed, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion once again chose to weak­en reg­u­la­tions in order to ben­e­fit industry.

Citations - Trump Administration Climate Rollbacks

98 — Fact Sheet: Clean Pow­er Plan Ben­e­fits, U.S. Eɴᴠᴛʟ. Pʀᴏᴛ. Aɢᴇɴᴄʏ, https://​archive​.epa​.gov/​e​pa/cl… (last vis­it­ed Sept. 142020).

99 — New York et al., Com­ment Let­ter on Pro­posed Emis­sion Guide­lines for Green­house Gas Emis­sions from Exist­ing Elec­tric Util­i­ty Gen­er­at­ing Units; Revi­sions to Emis­sion Guide­line Imple­ment­ing Reg­u­la­tions; Revi­sions to New Source Review Pro­gram (Oct. 31, 2018) (state com­ments in oppo­si­tion to the EPA’s 2018 so-called Afford­able Clean Ener­gy rule).

100 — Cal­i­for­nia et al. Com­ment Let­ter on Pro­posed Safer Afford­able Fuel-Effi­cient (SAFE) Vehi­cles Rule for Mod­el Years 2021 – 2026 Pas­sen­ger Cars and Light Trucks (Oct. 26, 2018) (state com­ments in oppo­si­tion to the EPA’s 2018 pro­posed Clean Cars Stan­dards rollback).

101 — Methane Pol­lu­tion, supra note 72.

102 — Max­ine Joselow, Trump’s car rule would cause more pol­lu­tion deaths, E&E Nᴇᴡs (Apr. 2, 2020), https://​www​.eenews​.net/​s​t​ories….

103 — Joeri Rogelj, Mit­i­ga­tion Path­ways Com­pat­i­ble with 1.5°C in the Con­text of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, in Gʟᴏʙᴀʟ Wᴀʀᴍɪɴɢ ᴏꜰ 1.5°C. ᴀɴ IPCC Sᴘᴇᴄɪᴀʟ Rᴇᴘᴏʀᴛ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ Iᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛs ᴏꜰ Gʟᴏʙᴀʟ Wᴀʀᴍɪɴɢ ᴏꜰ 1.5°C Aʙᴏᴠᴇ Pʀᴇ-Iɴᴅᴜsᴛʀɪᴀʟ Lᴇᴠᴇʟs ᴀɴᴅ Rᴇʟᴀᴛᴇᴅ Gʟᴏʙᴀʟ Gʀᴇᴇɴʜᴏᴜsᴇ Gᴀs Eᴍɪssɪᴏɴ Pᴀᴛʜᴡᴀʏs, ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ Cᴏɴᴛᴇxᴛ ᴏꜰ Sᴛʀᴇɴɢᴛʜᴇɴɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ Gʟᴏʙᴀʟ Rᴇsᴘᴏɴsᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ Tʜʀᴇᴀᴛ ᴏꜰ Cʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ Cʜᴀɴɢᴇ, Sᴜsᴛᴀɪɴᴀʙʟᴇ Dᴇᴠᴇʟᴏᴘᴍᴇɴᴛ, ᴀɴᴅ Eꜰꜰᴏʀᴛs ᴛᴏ Eʀᴀᴅɪᴄᴀᴛᴇ Pᴏᴠᴇʀᴛʏ 2 (2018), https://​www​.ipcc​.ch/​s​i​t​e​/​asset….

104 — Oil and Nat­ur­al Gas Sec­tor: Emis­sion Stan­dards for New, Recon­struct­ed, and Mod­i­fied Sources Review, 85 Fed. Reg. 57,018 (Sept. 14, 2020) (to be cod­i­fied at 40 C.F.R. pt. 60).

105 — Cal­i­for­nia et al., Com­ment Let­ter on Oil and Nat­ur­al Gas Sec­tor: Emis­sion Stan­dards for New, Recon­struct­ed, and Mod­i­fied Sources Review (Sept. 24, 2019) (state com­ments in oppo­si­tion to EPA’s 2019 roll­back of methane emis­sions reg­u­la­tions on the oil and gas industry).

106 — Com­plaint, New York v. Pruitt No. 1:18-cv-00773 (D.D.C. Apr. 52018).

107 — Com­plaint for Declara­to­ry and Injunc­tive Relief, Cal­i­for­nia v. Zinke No. 3:18-cv-05712 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 182018).

108 — Cal­i­for­nia v. Bern­hardt No. 4:18-cv-05712-YGR (N.D. Cal. July 15, 2020) (order strik­ing down BLM’s roll­back of the 2016 Methane Waste Pre­ven­tion rule).

109 — Com­plaint for Declara­to­ry and Injunc­tive Relief, Cal­i­for­nia v. EPA No. 4:18-cv-03237 (N.D. Cal. May 312018).

110 — Id.

111 — Peti­tion­ers’ Proof Brief, Envtl. Defense Fund v. Envtl. Pro­tec­tion Agency No. 19 – 1227 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 122020).

112 — Inde­pen­dent Par­tic­u­late Mat­ter Review Pan­el, The Need for a Tighter Par­tic­u­late-Mat­ter Air-Qual­i­ty Stan­dard, 383 N. Eɴɢʟ. J. Mᴇᴅ. 680 (2020), https://​www​.nejm​.org/​d​o​i​/​pdf/1.

113 — New York et al., Com­ment Let­ter on The EPA Administrator’s Review of the Nation­al Ambi­ent Air Qual­i­ty Stan­dards for Par­tic­u­late Mat­ter (June 292020).

114 — Mass­a­chu­setts et al., Com­ment Let­ter on the EPA’s Pro­posed Nation­al Emis­sion Stan­dards for Haz­ardous Air Pol­lu­tants: Coal- and Oil-Fired Elec­tric Util­i­ty Steam Gen­er­at­ing Units — Recon­sid­er­a­tion of Sup­ple­men­tal Find­ing and Resid­ual Risk and Tech­nol­o­gy Review (Apr. 17, 2020) (state com­ments in oppo­si­tion to EPA’s roll­back of the Mer­cury and Air Tox­i­cs Standards).

115 — Id

116 — Efflu­ent Lim­i­ta­tions Guide­lines and Stan­dards for the Steam Elec­tric Pow­er Gen­er­at­ing Point Source Cat­e­go­ry, 84 Fed. Reg. 64,620 (Nov. 22, 2019) (to be cod­i­fied at 40 C.F.R. pt. 423); Haz­ardous and Sol­id Waste Man­age­ment Sys­tem: Dis­pos­al of Coal Com­bus­tion Resid­u­als From Elec­tric Util­i­ties; A Holis­tic Approach to Clo­sure Part A: Dead­line To Ini­ti­ate Clo­sure, 84 Fed. Reg. 65,941 (Dec. 2, 2019) (to be cod­i­fied at 40 C.F.R. pt. 257); Haz­ardous and Sol­id Waste Man­age­ment Sys­tem: Dis­pos­al of CCR; A Holis­tic Approach to Clo­sure Part B: Alter­nate Demon­stra­tion for Unlined Sur­face Impound­ments; Imple­men­ta­tion of Clo­sure, 85 Fed. Reg. 12,456 (Mar. 3, 2020) (to be cod­i­fied at 40 C.F.R. pt. 257).

117 — Mary­land et al., Com­ment Let­ter on Haz­ardous and Sol­id Waste Man­age­ment Sys­tem: Dis­pos­al of Coal Com­bus­tion Resid­u­als from Elec­tric Util­i­ties; A Holis­tic Approach to Clo­sure Part A: Dead­line to Ini­ti­ate Clo­sure; Efflu­ent Lim­i­ta­tions Guide­lines and Stan­dards for the Steam Elec­tric Pow­er Gen­er­at­ing Point Source Cat­e­go­ry (Jan. 21, 2020); Mary­land et al., Com­ment Let­ter on Haz­ardous and Sol­id Waste Man­age­ment Sys­tem: Dis­pos­al of CCR; A Holis­tic Approach to Clo­sure Part B: Alter­nate Demon­stra­tion for Unlined Sur­face Impound­ments; Imple­men­ta­tion of Clo­sure (Apr. 172020).

118 — 42 U.S.C. § 6944.

119 — Util­i­ty Sol­id Waste Activ­i­ties Group v. Envtl. Pro­tec­tion Agency No. 15 – 1219 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 212018).

Online Conference Perspectives on Climate Change and Public Health

NYU School of Law’s State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter and Insti­tute for Pol­i­cy Integri­ty co-host­ed an online con­fer­ence on Sep­tem­ber 22, 2020 to explore the seri­ous threat that cli­mate change pos­es to pub­lic health. Experts from around the coun­try dis­cussed cli­mate-relat­ed health prob­lems and some of the bar­ri­ers work­ing against the full con­sid­er­a­tion of health impacts in cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal policy.

The State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter and the Insti­tute for Pol­i­cy Integri­ty co-host­ed an online con­fer­ence to explore the seri­ous threat that cli­mate change pos­es to pub­lic health. Experts from around the coun­try dis­cussed cli­mate-relat­ed health prob­lems and some of the bar­ri­ers work­ing against the full con­sid­er­a­tion of health impacts in cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal policy.

Speak­ers included:

Maura Healey

Mau­ra Healey

Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Com­mon­wealth of Massachusetts

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Dr. Aaron Bernstein

Dr. Aaron Bernstein

Inter­im Direc­tor, Cli­mate Health and the Glob­al Envi­ron­ment, Har­vard TH Chan School of Pub­lic Health; Pedi­atric Hos­pi­tal­ist, Boston Chil­dren’s Hospital

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Dr. John Holdren

Dr. John Holdren

Tere­sa and John Heinz Pro­fes­sor of Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy, Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment and Pro­fes­sor of Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence and Pol­i­cy, Depart­ment of Earth and Plan­e­tary Sci­ences, Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty; for­mer Sci­ence Advi­sor to Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and Direc­tor, White House Office of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Pol­i­cy, 2008 – 2016

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Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthy

Pres­i­dent and Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer, NRDC; For­mer Admin­is­tra­tor, U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency

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Dr. Sudip Parikh

Dr. Sudip Parikh

Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer and Exec­u­tive Pub­lish­er, Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Science

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Lisa Friedman

Lisa Fried­man


Reporter, Cli­mate Desk, The New York Times

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Dr. N. Stuart Harris

Dr. N. Stu­art Harris

Chief, Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal (MGH) Divi­sion of Wilder­ness Med­i­cine; Direc­tor, MGH Wilder­ness Med­i­cine Fel­low­ship; Depart­ment of Emer­gency Med­i­cine, MGH; Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Emer­gency Med­i­cine, Har­vard Med­ical School; Affil­i­at­ed Fac­ul­ty, Belfer Cen­ter Arc­tic Ini­tia­tive, Har­vard Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment (Pan­elist and Moderator)

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Dr. Kari Nadeau

Dr. Kari Nadeau

Direc­tor, Sean N. Park­er Cen­ter for Aller­gy and Asth­ma Research at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty; Direc­tor, FARE Cen­ter of Excel­lence at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty; Nad­disy Foun­da­tion Pro­fes­sor of Med­i­cine and Pediatrics

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Dr. William N. Rom

Dr. William N. Rom

Research Pro­fes­sor, Depart­ment of Med­i­cine at NYU Gross­man School of Med­i­cine; Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus of Med­i­cine, Depart­ment of Med­i­cine at NYU Gross­man School of Medicine

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Dr. Linda Walden

Dr. Lin­da Walden

Founding/​Steering Com­mit­tee Geor­gia Clin­i­cians for Cli­mate Action; Imme­di­ate Past Region III Chair, Nation­al Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion (South­east U.S.); Mem­ber, Med­ical Soci­ety Con­sor­tium on Cli­mate and Health; Past Pres­i­dent, Geor­gia State Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion, Inc.; Board of Trustees, Nation­al Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion; Fam­i­ly Physician

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