Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced Sunday that he would begin the process of undoing the agency’s Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rule aimed at cutting carbon pollution from power plants, creating jobs, and preserving a livable climate.
Without a trace of irony, Pruitt told coal-miners in Eastern Kentucky, “No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Ky.”
That is a Trump-esque level of tone-deafness. The direct health hazards alone from this action will be devastating. In the year 2030 (and every year after), it could mean up to 3,600 more premature deaths; 17,000 more hospitalizations; 90,000 more asthma attacks in kids; and 300,000 missed days of school and work, according to a 2015 EPA analysis.
On top of that, Pruitt’s move is a cornerstone of the Trump administration’s plan to undermine both domestic and global climate action. Killing the Clean Power Plan (along with other pro-pollution moves by Trump), will make it much harder for the United States to meet its carbon pollution target for the Paris climate deal — and, more importantly, the country won’t be able to make an even stronger commitment in the next round of negotiations.
Recall that back in 2015, when more than 190 nations of the world unanimously agreed to work together to avoid catastrophic climate change, they agreed to keep ratcheting down their carbon pollution targets every few years. Trump announced his intention to pull out of Paris in June. Undoing the Clean Power Plan will make much more difficult for any successor to quickly get the nation and the world back on track.
Scientists from 13 federal agencies have already analyzed what could happen to your children’s future if Trump is able to undo domestic and global climate action. In the second half of this century, America could suffer sea level rise of 1 foot per decade, 8°F to 10°F warming over the U.S. interior, and devastating drops in soil moisture across most of the country, including our in the breadbaskets.
What greater hazard could their be for our kids and future generations than unrestricted carbon pollution and the resulting catastrophic climate change?
Pruitt’s move, combined with Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent proposal to force Americans to buy dirtier, more expensive power from coal, represents a full-scale war on cheap, clean energy and the cleaner air it gives us.
During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to restore the United States to an earlier time, one when we were more dependent on dirty, expensive fossil fuels. He railed against an imaginary “war on coal.”
Pruitt repeated that phony talking point that Sunday. “The war on coal is over,” Pruitt told the Kentucky miners. But leading independent energy experts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) dismantled these claims earlier this year.
“Whatever President Trump may say, U.S. coal’s main problem has been cheap natural gas and renewable power, not a politically driven ‘war on coal,’” BNEF chair Michael Liebreich and chief editor Angus McCrone wrote back in January. Therefore “it will continue being pushed out of the generating mix.”
On Tuesday, BNEF Policy Editor Steph Munro said in a statement that coal is simply too uneconomic to save. “If Administrator Pruitt intends to bring back coal, it will require some form of quota or mandate system.We don’t see traction for coal mandates in Congress or the regulatory bureaucracy,” he said.
Mandating coal, as Pruitt and Perry seem to desire, would raise energy bills and slow economic growth. It would also undermine U.S. leadership in clean energy.
The ever-worsening reality of climate change ensures that the primary new manufacturing jobs will be green and sustainable. In 2010, the New York Times reported that, “in the energy sector alone, the deployment of new technologies, like wind and solar power, has the potential to support 20 million jobs by 2030 and trillions of dollars in revenue, analysts estimate.”
The Paris climate deal means that the potential revenues generated for clean tech in the coming decades will be measured in the tens of trillions of dollars.
China’s most recent five-year energy budget invests $360 billion in renewables by 2020, which Beijing calculates will lead to more than 13 million jobs. China is also aggressively working to be the leader in electric vehicles (EVs) to capture what is projected to be a market of more than 37 million EVs in 2025.
But Trump is killing the very policies and investments that would give the U.S. a piece of what is fast becoming the largest collection of new high-wage job-creating industries.
Tragically, Trump’s war on clean energy and clean air is hazard not only to U.S. jobs, but to the health and well-being of all Americans and their children.
This post has been updated.