The Trump administration’s replacement for President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan will cause up to 1,630 premature deaths, 96,000 more cases of “exacerbated” asthma, 48,000 lost work days, and 140,000 lost school days in 2030, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimate that might understate the impact, according to independent analysts.
“The Trump EPA once again proves that it cares more about extending the lives of old coal plants rather than saving the lives of the American people,” Clean Air Task Force Advocacy Director Conrad Schneider told Bloomberg. “The result will actually be more pollution and unnecessary loss of life.”
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The numbers show up in a 289-page technical document accompanying the new regulation, released Tuesday to coincide with two campaign events Trump was expected to attend in West Virginia.
“The new rule would give states more leeway to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from their power sectors—even though, by the agency’s own admission, that will result in higher levels of particulate matter and ozone being emitted by coal plants than would have occurred” under the Obama plan, Bloomberg reports. “That pollution is linked with respiratory infections, asthma, and impaired lung function.”
As for the EPA estimate of premature deaths and other health impacts, “the numbers are a significant drop from the agency’s own earlier estimates,” Bloomberg notes, and the American Lung Association is questioning how the agency carried out the new calculations. “They put their thumb on the scale,” said Paul Billings, ALA’s senior vice president of public policy.
“As recently as last October, the agency said that doing away with the plan would mean as many as 4,500 additional deaths,” Bloomberg adds.
The Trump administration release received immediate pushback from the heads of environment and energy agencies from 14 states, representing 123 million people and 43% of the U.S. economy. In a statement to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the signatories “make clear the need to reduce carbon pollution, as their states are already experiencing the harmful effects of climate change, including increased wildfires, severe heat waves, and costly storms,” reports the Georgetown Climate Center, which facilitated the joint release.
“In the letter, the agency leaders cite the EPA’s duty under the Clean Air Act to protect citizens from dangerous air pollution and reaffirm their support for the EPA’s approach under the Clean Power Plan, which relied on the innovative strategies that power plants are already implementing to reduce emissions,” Georgetown notes. “Under the EPA’s own analysis, the Trump Administration’s replacement proposal would not effectively address carbon pollution from power plants.”