The effects of global warming continue to pose serious health risks to humans, which is a serious concern in the United States. Global warming is caused by human activities such as CO2 emissions from power plants into the atmosphere. The effects of global warming include the occurrence of extreme weather events caused by global warming such as floods and forest fires. Moreover, it has led to the prevalence, distribution, and seasonality of vector-borne diseases like malaria and Dengue fever. Vector-borne diseases are infections transmitted by infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, which are sensitive to climatic factors such as precipitation patterns and low and high-temperature extremes. As such, there exists a need to regulate human activities that contribute to global warming. The federal, state and local governments in collaboration with the healthcare sector should thus set policies that regulate how power plants release CO2 emissions which contribute to global warming. In 2015, the United States passed the clean power plan (CPP) to aid in regulating carbon emissions from power plants. The target was to reduce CO2 emissions from the electricity-generating sector by 32% by the year 2030 (Davis, Billinger, & Dijkema, 2016). In 2019, the CPP was repealed and replaced by the Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE) which imposed weaker regulations on carbon emission compared to the CPP. Notably, the Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE) is not as effective as the CPP in regulating CO2 emissions.
A Description of the Policy and The Health Issue
In June 2019, the environmental protection agency (EPA), under the leadership of President Trump, repealed the Clean Power Plan. The Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE) was implemented which sought to affect how carbon emissions from power plants are regulated. The U.S. electricity sector emits 2 billion tons of CO2 yearly accounting for 38% of the country’s total energy-related CO2 emissions (Davis, Billinger, & Dijkema, 2016). The Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE) targets heat rate improvements (HRIs) at individual coal plants in the U.S. It allows states to set own rules on coal emissions instead of upholding the strict limits on carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants set by the Clean Power Plan (CPP) (Davis, Billinger, & Dijkema, 2016). Moreover, the ACE rule does not permit states to use force to influence power plants to switch from the use of coal to renewable energy or natural gas or the use of carbon capture technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even though these are the only technologies that promise significant cuts in carbon.
The ACE is considered a downgrade from the CPP since the current national CO2 emissions are higher compared to when the CPP was in place. Notably, although the ACE reduces the emission intensity of coal plants, it is expected to increase the number of operating coal plants and the level of coal-fired electricity generation (Keyes, Lambert, Burtraw, Buonocore, Levy, & Driscoll, 2019). As a result, carbon emissions from power plants will continuously be released into the air thus contributing to global warming. Health issues such as asthma, heatstroke, respiratory illnesses, and premature deaths from extreme weather events like floods and forest fires are caused by global warming.
The Population that is Most Affected by the Policy and How it Affects Them
The elderly and young populations of America are the most affected by the effects of global warming. Most young and elderly people have a weak immune system and are therefore susceptible to global warming effects. The Affordable clean energy rule (ACE) has put in place comparatively weaker measures than the Clean Power Plant (CPP) in reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plantsWentz, & WebbAir pollution can cause asthma in young populations, while exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause heatstroke among the elderly. Furthermore, global warming influences the prevalence vector-borne diseases such as Malaria and Lyme disease. These diseases pose serious health impacts on the young and elderly populations due to their weak immune systems. Also, global warming can lead to extreme weather events like floods and forest fires that can result in injuries or even death.
At What Level does the Policy Occur (Local, State, or National). Evidence
The affordable clean energy rule occurs at the state level. The environmental protection agency allows states to make their own decisions about what systems work best in controlling carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants.
The affordable clean energy rule has affected how carbon emissions from power plants are regulated, which presents significant implications on climate change and human health.
Suggestions for Addressing the Health Issue Caused by the Current Policy
The health concern raised by the ACE rule is the increase of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, which contributes to air pollution and global warming thereby accelerating climate change. Global warming impacts human health in two major ways: it can change the frequency or severity of health problems that are caused by climate or weather factors and it can create unprecedented health problems. Reviewing the ACE rule and revoking the powers which permit states to make their own decisions about what systems work best for them in controlling carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants will help in lowering the amount of CO2 emissions, thereby providing a safe environment for humans to thrive.
Description of the Steps Required to Initiate Policy Change
To change the affordable clean energy rule, political values, feasibility considerations, and stakeholder interests should be taken into account. In the United States, public policies may be enacted by federal, state, or local governments (Pollack Porter, Rutkow, & McGinty, 2018). Effective policy changes are likely to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants, thereby reducing the level of global warming.
Proposed Solution to the Issue
A solution to the issues posed by the affordable clean energy rule (ACE) would be to repeal the ACE and revert to the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The latter has well-defined and effective measures for regulating carbon emissions from power plants.
The Impact of the Proposed Solution on the Health Care Delivery System
The impact of reverting to the Clean Power Plan (CPP) will be the substantial reduction of carbon pollution by 32 percent from the levels registered in 2005 by the year 2030. If the CPP is upheld and its repeal is struck down, then the CPP will prove that the affordable clean energy rule (ACE) is not the best system of emission reductions, because it is less effective than the CPP (Wentz, & Webb, 2019). Also, the move will substantially reduce the emission of other degrading air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide from power plants, thereby minimizing the effects of global warming and climate change on human health.
Adler, D., Wentz, J.A., & Webb, R. (2019). Four important points about EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule. Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School. blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatechange/2019/06/20/four-important-points-about-epas-affordable-clean-energy-rule/.
Davis, C., Bollinger, L. A., & Dijkema, G. P. (2016). The state of the states: data-driven analysis of the US clean power plan. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 60, 631-652. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032116001271
Keyes, A. T., Lambert, K. F., Burtraw, D., Buonocore, J. J., Levy, J. I., & Driscoll, C. T. (2019). The Affordable Clean Energy rule and the impact of emissions rebound on carbon dioxide and criteria air pollutant emissions. Environmental Research Letters. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aafe25/pdf
Pollack Porter, K. M., Rutkow, L., & McGinty, E. E. (2018). The importance of policy change for addressing public health problems. Public Health Reports, 133(1_suppl), 9S-14S. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0033354918788880