Updated: Apr 30, 2020
When power plants burn coal or natural gas, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon pollution causes global warming—one of the most far-reaching and consequential problems that the world currently faces.
Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is legally obligated to regulate carbon dioxide from major sources in the United States. That’s why, in 2015, the EPA released its first standard aimed at cutting carbon from power plants, known as the “Clean Power Plan.” (CPP) The power sector is second only to the transportation sector as a source of US carbon emissions. The new plan under Trump is called the “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule, the Trump administration is selling this as the “right way” of doing clean energy. Trump administration officials say the Clean Power Plan, in its effort to reduce carbon emissions, illegally tried to force electric utilities to use greener energy sources. We can debate the merits of that argument another time.
The reality of the repeal of the CPP and the replacement with the ACE is that within the hundreds of pages of technical analysis that accompany the new proposal it actually indicates that emissions would GROW under the plan. Compared to the Obama-era plan, the analysis says, “implementing the proposed rule is expected to increase emissions of carbon dioxide and the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health.” Read it for yourself on Page. 138
Furthermore, the Trump E.P.A. predicts its plan will see between 470 and 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 because of increased rates of microscopic airborne particulates known as PM 2.5, which are dangerous because of their link to heart and lung disease as well as their ability to trigger chronic problems like asthma and bronchitis. Read it for yourself page 172
Implementing the proposed guidelines will affect the level and distribution of PM2.5 (PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair). Read it for yourself on page 146. And The Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) for Particulate Matter (PM) found acute exposure to PM2.5 to be causally related to cardiovascular effects and mortality (i.e., premature death), and respiratory effects as likely-to-be-causally related. Read it for yourself on page 153
To sum it up, if you’re a coal miner who is looking to start working again, I am happy for you. It’s difficult to be jobless, I get it. If you are watching the Trump rally tonight in West Virginia, I think you have every reason to be excited that the Coal jobs are coming back, and ostensibly I’m certain Trump will make mention of this. That said, the relaxation of the CPP rules will not bode well for the majority of Americans, especially as it concerns their health, and the health of those they love. It’s easy to get lost in the science jargon, but trust me the increased levels of PM 2.5 does not discriminate by political party or age. This will have a significant impact on our health, and the Trump administration knows this.
Here's where you can find the Regulatory Impact Analysis mentioned: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-08/documents/utilities_ria_proposed_ace_2018-08.pdf