Experts:  George Thurston, ScD, leading scholar on health effects of air pollution, and chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee

Mary Rice, MD, MPH, pulmonologist, vice chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee.

A decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan ignores scientific fact and places the health and well-being of nearly every American at greater risk.  The science documenting the causes of climate change and the immediate economic and health benefits that will be derived from acting to address the climate crisis are unambiguous. 

Key Messages:

  • Repealing the Clean Power Plan is a conscious decision to make climate change and human health worse by rolling back the initial clean air progress that had already been achieved by the EPA.
  • Our patients, particularly children and the elderly, are facing the consequences of climate change on a daily basis.
  • Climate-related adverse health effects include heat-related illness and death, as well as serious breathing problems resulting from more forest fires, longer pollen seasons and heat-related ozone air pollution.
  • The Clean Power Plan would provide immediate and local human health benefits due to cleaner air, including lower cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions and mortality, as a result of lowering power plant emissions.


A 2015 survey of ATS members, which include pulmonary and critical care physicians and scientists, showed that 89 percent acknowledge climate change is currently happening and 65 percent find that climate change is relevant to direct patient care. The ATS was one of several medical society partners that filed an amicus brief in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan when it was challenged in 2016.