- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

With his top aides hailing him as the “greenest president” in history, President Obama on Tuesday launched a new effort to highlight the impacts of climate change on Americans’ health, the latest attempt to justify this administration’s unprecedented environmental agenda.

The new effort centers on actions by both the federal government and leading private companies such as Google and Microsoft. The administration will begin making available new data on the health effects of global warming, which include increases in asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Data on the health risks resulting from climate change, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies, now will be available online.

The administration also said it will form a coalition of deans from 30 leading medical and nursing schools who are “committed to ensure the next generation of health professionals is trained to address the health impacts of climate change.”

Private companies also are joining the effort. Google, for example, says it will use 10 million hours of advanced computing time to draw up new “risk maps” for wildfires and other consequences of climate change.

The initiative underscores the White House’s strong desire to secure popular support for its climate-change agenda, which centers on stringent new limits on power-plant emissions, new auto fuel efficiency standards and other steps. Broadly, Mr. Obama is promising to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2030.

The president said Wednesday Americans must understand those steps are necessary for good health, not just to protect the environment.

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“I want everybody to start recognizing the costs of inaction, and recognize that the costs of inaction are even higher than the costs of action. In the same way that there are costs associated when you have severe drought or significant wildfires or the kinds of storm surges that we saw in Hurricane Sandy, well, there are public health costs, as well,” Mr. Obama said at a roundtable discussion at Howard University detailing the new plan. “And we’re ultimately going to be better off being proactive getting out in front of this thing, as opposed to [being] reactive where we pay a whole lot more in pain and suffering as well as in terms of trying to deal with the back end of the problem.”

The effort comes on the same day the White House boasted that Mr. Obama, with his extensive climate-change agenda, should be regarded as the most environmentally friendly president the country has ever seen.

“The president is going to go down in history as the greenest president we’ve ever had,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

But critics maintain that Mr. Obama’s status as a “green” president carries with it heavy consequences for the American economy, including higher electricity prices and lost jobs.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the president’s pledge to cut emissions by between 26 percent and 28 percent — made in conjunction with China’s promise to hit peak emissions by 2030 — is dangerous for the U.S. economy.

“The Obama administration will struggle to justify the lack of environmental progress achieved from such a deal, especially when American jobs become vulnerable to global competitors who can offer cheap and reliable energy,” Mr. Inhofe wrote last week in an op-ed for Fox News. “The 28 percent promise makes it clear that the administration is determined to use every tool it can identify, manipulate or invent to advance its goal of overhauling our nation’s economy in the name of climate change.”



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