Everything President Trump has said about President Obama’s climate plan and why he had to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord turns out to be a lie.
This new analysis reports a very low cost of complying with Obama’s much-vilified “Clean Power Plan,” (CPP) which set the rules for cleaning up the dirty U.S. power sector and was the cornerstone of America’s climate pledge at Paris.
Trump’s EPA now calculates that achieving the emissions reductions of the CPP would cost just $700 million in 2030 dropping to $400 million in 2035. The Obama EPA’s estimate for the 2030 costs were seven times larger.
According to the new analysis, the present value of the CPP’s compliance costs would be just $3 to $5 billion — while the present value of the health, economic, and environmental benefits of the reduced pollution would be as much as $80 billion.
In short, Obama’s CPP is a no brainer — small cost, huge benefits. And remember, this is according to figures buried in calculations released alongside the announced plan to repeal the CPP.
Yet, Trump has asserted for years that the CPP was a costly mistake, and that’s why the U.S. had to become the only major country in the world to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
In fact, just a few hours after the EPA released its analysis, Trump repeated his now-falsified claim to a Charleston, West Virginia audience.
In his Tuesday night speech, Trump said (emphasis added):
We’re canceling Obama’s illegal anti-coal destroying regulations, their so-called “Clean Power Plan.” Doesn’t that sound nice, “clean power.” You know, when I ended the Paris Accord — what’s a more beautiful name than the Paris Accord. Let’s call it the West Virginia accord, maybe I would’ve signed it. But when I entered it, that was going to cost us hundreds of billions of dollars — hundreds of billions.
Trump’s EPA has just debunked that claim.
Below is the EPA chart (see the “No CPP” column on the left) included in the data published August 21.
According to the table, if the CPP is not adopted, the savings expected (from not having to comply with stricter regulations) are estimated at $700 million ($0.7 billion) in 2030.
Obama’s own EPA had estimated that complying with the CPP in 2030 would cost more than seven times as much — $5.1 billion.
If you are wondering why the Trump EPA calculates such low compliance costs, there’s a fairly simple answer.
Since Trump took office, the economics of coal power has gotten worse and worse, especially compared to solar and wind power — so much so that the rate of collapse of coal plants has more than doubled.
The EPA puts it somewhat more opaquely in its new regulatory impact analysis, but the message is the same (emphasis added):
Due to a number of changes in the electricity sector since the CPP was finalized … the sector has become less carbon intensive over the past several years, and the trend is projected to continue.
These changes and trends are reflected in the modeling used for this analysis.
As such, achieving the emissions levels required under CPP requires less effort and expense, relative to a scenario without the CPP, and the estimated compliance costs are significantly lower than what was estimated in the final CPP RIA.
EPA’s phrase “the [electricity] sector has become less carbon intensive over the past several years, and the trend is projected to continue,” is the euphemistic way of saying coal plants are shutting down because they are uneconomic, and therefore they are going to keep shutting down, even without any new climate rules.
Indeed, the Obama EPA’s final Clean Power Plan RIA from August 2015 had projected the CPP would have cut CO2 emissions by 415 million tons in 2030, whereas the EPA’s new RIA finds that the CPP would only cut emissions by 74 million tons.
Market economics is going to do all of the rest, shutting down more than 4 out of 5 plants that the CPP would have. Obama’s “war on coal” has been replaced by the free market’s “war on coal.”
So after all of Trump’s repeated lies and absurdities — after he turned the U.S. into a rogue nation and earned the wrath of the world by walking away from the Paris climate deal — the truth is it was all for no good reason.
With or without Obama’s Clean Power Plan, coal plants are on the way out — indeed that process has sped up under Trump — and the President’s new plan will not change that at all.