There are currently public health safeguards on pollutants from power plants for mercury, lead and soot, but none limiting the carbon pollution that is dumped into the air. Not only is carbon pollution fueling climate change, but it is posing a serious threat to public health here in Maine, especially to the elderly.

Many seniors are battling chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease and high blood pressure, which are only made worse under the added stress of hot weather. Last year was the hottest on record in the continental United States, and scientists predict that average temperatures in North America will continue to rise by another 4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit this century, putting the elderly in further danger of heat-related complications.

According to the American Lung Association, more than 15.8 million adults, age 65 and over, live in counties that received at least one failing grade for its air pollutants, and more than 2.8 million seniors are breathing air that fails all three pollution tests. Further, the ALA found that 2.7 million children and more than 8.7 million adults with asthma live in counties that received an F for at least one pollutant.

For the health and safety of our communities, the public needs to back the EPA’s efforts to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants.

I urge Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to support the president’s climate action plan and the EPA’s proposal to regulate carbon emissions from new power plants.

Stephen Drane, Auburn

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