Clean Power Plan Hearing is Trump’s Latest Desperate Act to Save Dying Coal Industry
WASHINGTON – For the only public hearing on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the Trump administration picked a location where residents are sure to support the desperate attempt to save the dying coal industry.
Today’s hearing is being held in Charlotte, W.Va., “to hear from those most impacted by the CPP,” said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in a statement on the agency’s website.
The Clean Power Plan was put in place during the Obama administration in an effort to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants that can trigger serious health problems. This pollution is also a leading cause of climate change. When the plan was proposed, the EPA estimated it would “lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.”
But under Trump and Pruitt, the EPA has done an about-face. Scrapping the CPP is part of the administration’s scheme to prop up the failing coal industry, which has declined rapidly as cleaner, cheaper and renewable sources of energy have become more widely available.
“Repealing the CPP won’t reverse the inevitable demise of coal,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Coal’s fate has been sealed by simple economics with the explosion of cheaper and renewable energy. But blocking the plan will cause more asthma attacks in children, and more heart attacks and premature deaths among adults. It’s clear evidence that the president and the administrator don’t care about protecting public health, but instead preserving polluters’ profits.”
“Instead of attempting to prop up the coal industry, the Trump administration should be exploring ways to smooth the transition for coal miners to jobs producing clean, sustainable sources of energy,” said Grant Smith, EWG’s senior energy policy advisor. “In addition to the significant health benefits that could be achieved by implementing the Clean Power Plan, it is well documented that U.S. solar jobs already far exceed the number of jobs in the more than 100-year-old coal mining industry.”
Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced a proposed rule that would force regional electricity suppliers to pay above-market-value prices for coal and nuclear power. Currently, operators of regional electricity grids shop around for the lowest-cost power sources available. But with the glut of natural gas on the market and the cost of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources steadily dropping, energy from aging coal and nuclear plants has trouble competing.
According to federal data compiled by EWG in a recent report, utilities plan to close 75 coal and nuclear units in the next three years.
EWG researchers analyzed data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Energy Information Administration showing that since 2009, solar power capacity has grown by a factor of 89 and wind power capacity has increased sixfold.
Another component to Trump’s frantic effort to placate coal industry executives and save face in light of his repeated campaign promises to “bring back coal,” was his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. The United States is now the only country on Earth not part of the pact to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, even though the U.S. government unequivocally states these emissions are the primary cause of climate change.
“During the campaign, then-candidate Trump sold coal miners, their families and the companies that employ them a bill of goods when he promised he’d save coal,” said Cook. “Now he’s throwing them scraps that will do little to stave of the inevitable demise of the industry as the clean fuel economy continues to grow.”