Sci-tech

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

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

The EPA acknowledges that the proposed plan is expected to "increase emissions of carbon dioxide" and "increase the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health", as compared to the projections for Obama's plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Affordable Clean Energy rule, which President Trump planned to tout at a roundtable meeting in Charleston, West Virginia, on Tuesday evening, represents the administration's most ambitious proposal to bolster the nation's coal industry.

"What we're doing is moving forward in a measured approach to reduce Carbon dioxide in the long-term and provide cheaper electricity for all Americans", Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told FOX Business' Liz Claman on Tuesday. The US might well have missed its emissions reduction goals set in the Paris climate agreement even with the clean power plan in place. The move dovetails with a separate administration proposal to relax Obama-era greenhouse gas emission limits on vehicles and coming efforts to ease restrictions on the amount of methane that can escape from oil wells.

The Environmental Protection Agency's "Affordable Clean Energy" proposal would replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan's sweeping changes in the US electricity mix with more modest emissions curbs at individual power plants. The Obama administration had worked to nudge the country's power producers toward natural gas, wind, solar and other less-polluting energy sources.

Trump's proposal for modest efficiency improvements at power plants falls far short of what's needed to combat climate change, environmentalists said.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, asked in an interview whether his state would sue to block the plan, said "we're moving in that direction" but would see the administrative process through.

In the scenario that most states would likely adopt, the EPA predicts that between 470 and 1,400 premature deaths would occur every year by 2030 because of the release of microscopic particulates linked to asthma and bronchitis.

The EPA must take comment on the proposal for the next 60 days, and environmental groups are sure to fight it.

"This is a double-barreled assault on climate policy", Joseph Goffman, who is now executive director of the Environmental & Energy Law Program at Harvard University, told CBS News.

Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states based on power-plant emissions and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions.

"Once again, this administration is choosing polluters' profits over public health and safety", he said.

Trump has vowed to end what Republicans call a "war on coal" waged by Obama.

The Supreme Court put Obama's plan on hold in 2016 following a legal challenge by industry and coal-friendly states, an order that remains in effect.

After wiping out plans to continue boosting fuel economy standards earlier this month, the EPA on Tuesday proposed rolling back emissions standards on electric power plants. It's a cruel irony that Trump and his acting Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Andrew Wheeler, are announcing their unlawfully weak plan as worsening wildfires, flooding, and heat waves besiege our country.

'We agree with those policymakers who have become increasingly concerned that coal retirements are a threat to grid resilience and national security, ' she said.