New TV ads will focus on childhood asthma in bid to protect carbon rules

Source: Jean Chemnick • E&E  • Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Environmentalists will link carbon emissions to asthma in a television ad campaign that begins today.

The Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council are sponsoring the ad featuring elementary-school children wandering the halls of Congress with inhalers and wearing oxygen masks to meetings with lawmakers.

“If every polluter’s lobbyist around Congress was suddenly replaced by severely asthmatic children, then maybe Congress wouldn’t always be trying to gut clean air standards,” a narrator says at the start of the spot.

It concludes: “If they could see it, maybe they’d stop it.”

The ad will air for a week in Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania — swing states in this year’s election — and in Washington, D.C.

The ad buy is timed to coincide with U.S. EPA’s release of its first New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed rule for new power plants has been under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget for four months.

Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have targeted nearly all new EPA air quality regulations for delay or rollback, but the greenhouse gas rules have been especially controversial because so many Republicans deny that human emissions are causing warming

The ad does not mention “climate change” or “global warming,” and the word “carbon” appears with “mercury” and “arsenic” as a contributor to hospital visits and asthma attacks.

Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist with NRDC, said the ad was intended to show the health benefits of addressing climate change, noting that warmer temperatures contribute to ground-level ozone, a component of smog.

“It’s definitely a story with a human face in this ad,” Knowlton said, adding that supporting documents connect the dots between climate change and health effects.

Knowlton said the health message was not necessarily chosen to appeal to a broader audience, especially in swing states.

“I think it’s really important that the health message come forward to the public overall,” she said. All states, she added, will see health benefits from Clean Air Act rules.

Click here to watch the ad.