Augusta Free Press

Jennifer Kaufer: Virginia leaders voted to delay health protections for kids

I was disappointed to hear that the House of Delegates approved Senate Bill 21 – harmful legislation that could delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan is an opportunity for Virginia to reduce carbon emissions and protect public health. The bill would require General Assembly approval of Virginia’s plan, delaying the health benefits it could provide Virginians.

Climate change puts our families’ health at risk, in part because it makes it harder to clean up dangerous ozone pollution, or smog. One of the most important steps our leaders in Virginia can take to protect lung health is to put in place robust and enforceable air pollution safeguards by implementing a strong Clean Power Plan.

By reducing our carbon emissions here in the Commonwealth, we will also reduce pollutants that cause smog and soot at the same time. These pollutants can trigger symptoms of chronic lung disease and result in missed school and workdays, medical appointments and hospital stays – and even premature death. Fundamentally, failure to reduce carbon pollution means leaving the legacy of higher risk to our children’s health.

We thank Governor McAuliffe for his leadership and commitment to continuing to take steps to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by developing a strong state implementation plan. We ask the governor to veto SB 21 and any other legislation that would weaken, delay or block life-saving public health protections from air pollution.

Jennifer Kaufer is the Healthy Air Coalition Coordinator for the American Lung Association in Virginia.