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Obama Says Climate Change Growing Threat to Health

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U.S. President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama said the curbs on carbon emissions to combat climate change that his administration plans to unveil next week will also help address a growing threat to the nation’s health. Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said the curbs on carbon emissions to combat climate change that his administration plans to unveil next week will also help address a growing threat to the nation’s health.

“We don’t have to choose between the health of our economy and the health of our children,” he said in his weekly address, which was recorded yesterday at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington. “As president, and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that’s beyond fixing.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to announce a plan to limit carbon emissions from U.S. power plants on June 2. The two-tired regulation will seek reductions in greenhouse gases of as much as 25 percent over 15 years, according to people familiar with the proposal.

Obama’s address is part of an attempt by the White House to frame the coming debate over the new rules in personal terms, casting climate change as an issue that directly impacts Americans’ daily lives.

The costs of climate change, Obama said, “can be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, lost homes and businesses; and higher prices for food, insurance, and rebuilding.”

Obama recorded the address after meeting with children who are being treated at the hospital for asthma, which is aggravated by air pollution. As part of the campaign to build support for the rules, which are to be unveiled by the EPA, he plans to talk about the initiative during a conference call with the American Lung Association and other public health groups.

Scientists and physicians increasingly link a rise in allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases to the elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by climate change.

A study published in the September 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that asthma-related emergency hospital visits by children are likely to increase by the 2020s as climate change leads to higher ground-level ozone concentrations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at llerer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net Joe Sobczyk, Michael Shepard

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