EPA admits Trump would sacrifice thousands of U.S. lives to save a few coal plants

Joe Romm

Joe Romm Founding Editor, Think Progress

President Trump’s own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conceded Tuesday that replacing President Obama’s climate plan for electric utilities with his new plan will be a public health disaster and cost the economy billions.

Obama’s original “Clean Power Plan” would significantly reduce both carbon pollution and many toxic pollutants, including fine particulate matter and ozone smog.

Trump’s new “Affordable Clean Energy Plan” proposes to scuttle the Obama plan and replace it with a mostly voluntary call to utilities to slightly increase the efficiency of their coal plants.

But buried deep in the EPA’s new 289-page “Regulatory Impact Analysis,” are tables that make clear that Trump’s new plan will kill tens of thousands of Americans and make millions sicker in the coming decades.

Or, as the Trump plan euphemistically describes it, the plan will lead to “Forgone Human Health Ancillary Co-Benefits.”

For instance, by 2030, replacing Obama’s plan with Trump’s plan will lead to up to 120,000 more cases of worsened asthma a year. Sicker kids mean up to 140,000 more school absence days each year.

The extra pollution will prematurely kill up 1,400 more Americans from particulates and up to 230 from ozone each year.

It’s worth noting, however, that these numbers for death and sickness and lost school and work time are considerably lower than the estimates Trump’s EPA made just last October, when they concluded that undoing Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) will mean up to 4,500 more premature deaths a year starting in 2030.

The EPA appears to also have lowered the benefits of Obama’s Clean Power Plan — and “the projected cost of complying with the CPP” — because coal plants keep getting shut down and replaced with cleaner plants.

Therefore, it would require less effort to achieve the CPP targets, and the CPP’s benefits would be smaller, since coal is already failing in the market by itself, before the CPP has been implemented.

Nonetheless, EPA’s new Regulatory Impact Analysis concedes that replacing Obama’s plan with Trump’s will mean foregoing as much as $4 billion a year in net benefits from 2023 to 2037.

Total losses in the coming decades from the extra sickness and death, the lost work and reduced productivity, and the worsened climate impacts could easily exceed $50 billion.

The bottom line is that the president is more concerned about prolonging the lives of a few dozen coal plants and improving the short-term profits of a few fossil fuel companies than he is about prolonging or improving the lives of millions of Americans.


Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches