WASHINGTON May 31 President Barack Obama kicked
off a campaign to promote new restrictions on U.S. power plant
emissions on Saturday by tying the fight against climate change
with efforts to promote better health for children and the
In his weekly radio address, Obama said the United States
had to do more to reduce carbon emissions so that children
suffering from asthma and other related ailments did not face
further problems as a result of polluted air.
His argument was a preview of the case that his
administration will make in the coming weeks after the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday unveils new
rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power
plants across the country.
Although the rules are intended to help Washington meet
international obligations to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas
emissions blamed for global warming, the White House's focus on
human health benefits is part of a sales pitch to drum up
support from the American public.
Obama recorded his address at a medical center in
Washington, where children with asthma were treated.
"Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution,
pollution from the same sources that release carbon and
contribute to climate change," he said. "And for the sake of all
our kids, we've got to do more to reduce it."
Obama noted that roughly 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions
stemmed from power plants that previously faced no restrictions.
"We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury,
sulfur, and arsenic that power plants put in our air and water,
but they can dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the
air," he said. "It's not smart, it's not safe, and it doesn't
Fighting climate change could become one of the top domestic
policy achievements of the president's second term and getting
public support is critical as the White House prepares for an
onslaught of criticism from industry and Republicans.
"Now, special interests and their allies in Congress will
claim that these guidelines will kill jobs and crush the
economy. Let's face it, that's what they always say," Obama
said, noting that such "cynics" were consistently wrong.
"They warned that doing something about the smog choking our
cities, and acid rain poisoning our lakes, would kill
business. It didn't. Our air got cleaner, acid rain was cut
dramatically and our economy kept growing."
Obama said the new guidelines would reduce smog and soot
that threaten vulnerable populations such as the young and the
aged and he said up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart
attacks would be avoided in the first year the standards went
Obama, who departs Washington for a trip to Europe on
Monday, will not be present for the unveiling of the proposed
rules by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
The radio address, recorded on Friday, was designed to put
his stamp on the rules before her official announcement.
(Editing by Matt Driskill)