WASHINGTON – With just over 40 days left in office, on Wednesday the Trump administration finalized a rule making it harder for the Environmental Protection Agency to enact clean air standards that protect public health and address the climate crisis.
Outgoing EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced changes to the Clean Air Act that dramatically alter the way the agency calculates the cost and benefits of policies to reduce air pollution. The changes mean that when the EPA evaluates proposed clean air standards, it must consider all costs to affected industries – but discount many of the public health benefits, such as lowering the risks of respiratory illnesses, immune system damage and early deaths, and reducing the greenhouse gas pollution that causes global warming.
“For four years, this administration has waged war on public health by kowtowing to polluters,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Now, on the way out the door, this amounts to sabotaging the efforts of the incoming administration to protect Americans from dirty air.”
The new rule will almost certainly face court challenges and immediate efforts by the Biden administration to overturn it. But Cook said those efforts will take time and waste resources that could be spent advancing one of President-elect Joe Biden’s top priorities – curbing climate-disrupting air pollution.
“It will literally be a breath of fresh air to soon have a president and an EPA working each day to make Americans and the planet healthier and safe,” said Cook. “But Administrator Wheeler and President Trump are hellbent on making that job as difficult as possible.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.