Health - June 6, 2014

New Proposed EPA Regulations Announced

On June 2, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency launched their proposed plan to reduce carbon emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants. The proposed regulations would reduce emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels and reduce pollutants like soot and smog by more than 25 percent by the year 2030. The EPA projects that this reduction will avoid 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks that happen in children and that by 2030 the reductions could also result in net climate and health benefits of $48 billion to $82 billion. During a conference call with the American Lung Association, President Obama said “this is important to all of us” and that it is important to work together to protect “this beautiful blue ball in the middle of space that we’re a part of.” The announcement has brought about both positive and negative remarks from both sides of the aisle. The EPA will take comments 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and hold four hearings on the proposal during the week of July 28.


Senator Scarnati Proposes Booting Elected Officials out of Pension Program

With summer recess looming over elected officials, the race for pension reform is on. If the legislature doesn’t act before the summer break, Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) is suggesting that all elected officials in the legislative, executive, and judicial branch be moved out of the defined state benefit pension plan. Scarnati said he knows the idea won’t offer the needed savings but that he thinks it’ll send the message that the legislature is serious about reform.  He offered his proposal during a telephone interview earlier this week during which he also noted growing concern that none of the reform plans currently offered have drawn the votes needed to pass. If a consensus plan does gain traction, Scarnati would like to see elected officials be “treated like new employees and pushed out of the guaranteed pension system and into a 401k-style plan.” Scarnati stated that “everybody believes we are the pension problem, so let’s take it out on ourselves. Then well see what the real problem is.”  Muhlenbreg College political scientist said that Scarnati’s proposal demonstrates that lawmakers recognized “they need to do more than talk the talk”