Bringing back coal will kill thousands of people per year

24 August, 2018, 06:30 | Author: Ann Santiago
  • Trump administration's rewrite of Clean Power Plan will be a boon to the coal industry

The Trump administration's newest proposal to weaken regulations on coal-fired power plants is called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, or ACE.

Kevin Drumm at Mother Jones takes a look at the increased death rates expected from the Trump administration's rollback of air standards for coal-burning power plants and finds Arkansas will be one of the big losers.

Bo Copley, a West Virginia coal worker who made headlines in 2016 when he confronted then-candidate Hillary Clinton with his family photo and asked about her plans to cut coal mining jobs, also praised Trump's plans to ease the regulations and follow through his campaign promise to protect the industry and the jobs.

New rules from the Environmental Protection Agency give states the power to set their own goals for greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The Affordable Clean Energy proposal does not disappoint coal executives: It lays out what the EPA appears to view as the minimum needed to meet statutory obligations set out in the 2007 Supreme Court decision in MA v. EPA, which held that the EPA should regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act if carbon dioxide endangered public health and welfare.

With the Trump administration's new Affordable Clean Energy rule, the agency says overall US coal production is expected to decrease. It says its Affordable Clean Energy rule "empowers states, promotes energy independence and facilitates economic growth and job creation".

The agency projects that scrapping the Clean Power Plan entirely would increase the number of premature deaths in 2030 by no more than 1,740. That rule aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in an effort to stem the effects of climate change.

Tom Fanning, chief executive of Southern Co., said Tuesday the utility doesn't plan to upgrade its existing coal-fired units or build new ones.

"That's a test created to never be triggered", said John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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Other critics are pointing out that EPA's own analysis predicts the new proposal would result in more deaths. "Given the magnitude of the problem with climate change and the magnitude of the solution that we need, it's really concerning that we are looking to the states as opposed to having federal leadership, which is really what we need".

"We're the only country in the world doing this, looking at coal as the future instead of understanding the future is about clean air, the future is about clean energy", Gina McCarthy, who served as EPA administrator under Obama, told CNN.

Nebraska, whose power generation relies heavily on fossil fuels, was among the states that filed a lawsuit challenging the Clean Power Plan.

The Trump administration hailed its new proposal for lowering energy costs for ordinary families and businesses.

"The fingerprints of the coal industry are all over this plan", Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.

"EPA takes its Clean Air Act responsibilities seriously and is committed to providing certainty to state and industry partners".

EPA called the Obama-era regulations on coal power plants "overly prescriptive and burdensome".

President Trump rolled back Obama's fuel efficiency rules earlier this month.

"It is the states that can best tackle the question of how we reduce emissions without raising people's electric bills and hurting our economy", Barrasso wrote.

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