Trump's easing of coal rules could kill 1,400 people per year

Terry Joseph
August 23, 2018

And before courts could settle the issue, the Trump administration announced that it was going to replace the program with something narrower.

"Did you see what I did to that?"

In that scenario, the Trump E.P.A. predicts its plan will see between 470 and 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 because of increased rates of microscopic airborne particulates known as PM 2.5, which are unsafe because of their link to heart and lung disease as well as their ability to trigger chronic problems like asthma and bronchitis. Trump has long targeted the plan - the cornerstone of Barack Obama's climate change agenda - by portraying it as disastrous for coal-producing regions in particular and the U.S. economy in general. Analysts say that Trump's efforts will be unable to reverse the trend. Officials pointed to the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the Clean Power Plan in response to a lawsuit arguing that the EPA had over extended itself. But it remains on the books as part of the EPA's legally mandated role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. This - the plan published on Tuesday - is that something.

While the new Trump plan announced Tuesday likely won't affect Minnesota's power plants, it could increase overall air pollution in the state if other states opt to burn more coal, said David Thornton, assistant commissioner with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The plan envisioned this would cut greenhouse gases from the power sector by around 32% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. Indeed, the White House press release for the new regulation does not contain a single mention of climate change or global warming. States have three years to evaluate their power plants and submit proposals for compliance, after which the EPA has another year to review - all before any implementation begins.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the nation's power sector consumed 661 million short tons of coal previous year, the lowest level since 1983. Washingtonians deserve clean air to breathe.

For instance, by 2030, replacing Obama's plan with Trump's plan will lead to up to 120,000 more cases of worsened asthma a year.

"It fails to take meaningful action to fight climate change and would actually increase emissions across the country", she said in a statement.

Why are they doing this?

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule regulating coal-fired power plants, which - according to the government's own figures - could cause thousands of premature deaths per year.

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"EPA takes its Clean Air Act responsibilities seriously and is committed to providing certainty to state and industry partners. And we know reduction in particle exposure means saved lives", said Janet McCabe, the former head of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

Trump has been a vocal supporter of the fossil fuels industry.

"The era of top-down, one-size-fits-all federal mandates is over", said EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler, in a phone call with reporters.

The EPA's 289-page regulatory analysis acknowledged that every possible scenario under its proposal projects "small increases" in climate-changing emissions and some pollutants, compared to the Obama plan.

The bigger picture of the livability of the planet looms ominously.

Even under the administration plan, power sector emissions will continue to decline.

During the conference, Wehrum also suggested that the new rule would keep the US on track to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the EPA's own documents also state that carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase.

"A coal plant that operates more efficiently may be called upon to run more hours, increasing the total amount of Carbon dioxide emitted overall", Lissa Lynch, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

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