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Will Repeal of Carbon Limits Risk Montanans' Health?


Big Sky Connection

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Eric Tegethoff

October 11, 2017

HELENA, Mont. - Public-health groups in Montana and across the country are concerned about what the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to back out of the Clean Power Plan will mean for the nation's most vulnerable.


The plan set federal limits on pollution from existing power plants. EPA chief Scott Pruitt has claimed the administration is preventing an overreach of executive authority, but Ronni Flannery, healthy-air director for the American Lung Association in Montana, said the decision puts people's health at risk.


"The proposal absolutely disregards decades of medical research and denies the life-saving value of cleaning up particle pollution, which is a pollutant that causes asthma attacks, lung cancer, heart attacks and premature deaths," she said.


Flannery said the repeal will exacerbate the effects of climate change, something Montana already has seen with increasing wildfires. She said children, seniors, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses face the most harmful health effects, and make up about 60 percent of the state's population. The American Lung Association and 16 other health and medical groups have denounced the Trump administration's decision.


Dr. Elena Rios, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Medical Association, said capping carbon pollution from power plants cuts hospital and emergency-room visits. She said she thinks the administration should keep this and other positive effects of cleaner air in mind.


"The government's number-one responsibility from a public health perspective is to help all people," she said, "and that's why we think President Trump and his administration really should not go backwards in cutting back on environmental health standards."


When the EPA finalized this rule in 2015, its own projections were that it would prevent 90,000 asthma attacks, 300,000 missed work and school days, and 3,600 premature deaths annually by 2030.


The EPA proposal is online at



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