WASHINGTON – This morning, the Environmental Protection Agency released the Trump administration's plan to let states regulate air pollution from coal-fired power plants, which would mean more children suffering from asthma, more Americans dying early deaths and only miniscule reduction of global warming pollution, warned Environmental Working Group.
“Trump’s latest scheme to bail out the coal industry is a disaster for public health and the climate,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “When you have a president who doesn’t believe in climate change and a former coal lobbyist running the Environmental Protection Agency, they’ll stop at nothing to keep a dirty, dying industry on life support – no matter the cost to people and the planet.”
Trump is expected to travel to West Virginia later this evening to tout his plan to replace the Clean Power Plan proposed in 2015 by President Obama, that would have for the first time capped emissions of carbon and other pollutants from coal fired power plants - a leading source of the air pollution that can trigger asthma attacks in children, early deaths among adults and intensifies climate change.
The Obama plan would have required coal-fired power plants install new technologies that reduce emissions and encourage investment in cleaner, safer sources of energy. Trump, backed by acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler, is expected to propose that individual states decide how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the option to do nothing to lower pollution from coal plants.
In 2015, the Obama EPA estimated that the Clean Power Plan could prevent between 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths annually. President Trump’s EPA in 2017 released its own analysis of the CPP and found it would prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths – nearly 1,000 more than what the agency estimated during the Obama administration.
Additionally, the EPA estimates that if the plan were left untouched, it would avoid 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030.
Trump’s proposed repeal would mean 36,000 premature deaths and more than 600,000 cases of childhood respiratory disease each decade, according to Harvard University experts on the human impact of public health policies.
The Washington Post reported that administration officials and the EPA admit the proposal would do almost nothing to mitigate the release of dangerous contaminants like carbon dioxide, mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from coal plant smokestacks.
Robert Murray, the head of the nation’s largest coal-mining company, Murray Energy, was one of Trump’s most vocal and generous supporters, donating $300,000 alone to his inauguration celebration. Before coming to EPA, Wheeler was a lobbyist for the coal industry, including for Murray Energy, and was vice president of the Washington Coal Club.
This is one of Wheeler’s first major initiatives since becoming acting EPA Administrator after disgraced former agency chief Scott Pruitt resigned in the wake of multiple ethics scandals. Wheeler has pledged to move ahead with an agenda very much in line with Pruitt’s on behalf of the energy, chemical and agribusiness industries.
“Pruitt may be gone, but coming up with radical schemes to please polluters instead of protecting public health is still the guiding principle of Andrew Wheeler’s EPA,” Said Cook, of the agency under Wheeler’s control. “What’s next – tossing out speed limits and bringing back leaded gasoline?”
“Today’s action only adds to the mountain of evidence that President Trump and Mr. Wheeler are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry,” added Cook. “Sadly, it is the families in the communities and states that pushed Trump into the White House who will suffer the most from this decision.”