This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final version of its Affordable Clean Energy rule, effectively killing the Clean Power Plan.
Science and climate groups responded in outrage, saying that the newest rule will do nothing to curb U.S. power plant carbon emissions.
“The Trump Affordable Clean Energy rule is a sham. It is dangerously irresponsible and completely at odds with the urgent need to address climate change, not to mention the EPA’s mission to protect public health,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a statement.
“This administration’s strategy is clear: Since the beginning, it has taken its marching orders from the fossil fuel industry and launched a broadside attack on climate action and public health protections.”
The now-dismantled Clean Power Plan was put into place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. This new gives more power to fossil fuel polluters. According to The Hill it “aims to give states more time and authority to decide how to implement the best new technology to ease net emissions from coal-fired plants,” while getting rid of “a review process that mandates older power plants to mitigate their emissions levels.”
“The EPA is attempting to justify this woefully weak rule by lowballing the cost of climate impacts and dismissing the benefits of cutting the harmful pollutants like particulate matter that are emitted along with carbon dioxide when power plants burn fossil fuels,” said Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and policy director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This blatantly dishonest tactic has only one purpose: to hide the harm to public health.”
“Administrator Wheeler’s crooked math cannot alter fundamental reality: Climate change is costly and dirtier air will harm all of us, especially children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations,” continues Cleetus. “This rule will do nothing to stem the overall trend of coal plant retirements which are at an all-time high because of market pressures, including from cheap natural gas.”
An earlier proposal of the plan actually included such language as “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.” The New York Times estimated last year that implementation of the plan could result in an estimated 470 to 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030. Luckily, environmental advocacy groups have already promised to fight the new rule in court.