Obama Clean Power Plan erased by fake “Clean Energy Rule”
Just because the dreadful Scott Pruitt is finally gone from 45’s EPA doesn’t mean that the environment is any safer. Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler is a former lobbyist for the coal industry and was a staffer for climate change denier Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). On August 21, Wheeler’s EPA proposed the “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) Rule, designed to provide $400 Million annual reduction in the “compliance burden” on energy producers by giving states great flexibility in setting pollution standards, effectively ending Obama’s forward-looking Clean Power Plan.
The Sierra Club says that ACE would not only produce no climate benefits by weakening limits on carbon emissions, but in prolonging the lives of coal-fired plants, would result in worsening public health problems. This is because coal-burning plants emit a variety of pollutants into the atmosphere, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, and particulate matter (soot). Coal ash holding ponds with concentrated toxins (arsenic, lead, mercury) are subject to leaks and spills into ground water and rivers, especially during the increasing number of flooding events.
States would no longer be limited by federal requirements on power plants for carbon reduction or controls on pollutants. “By the EPA’s own calculations, that increase in pollution would cause up to 1,400 premature deaths each year.” There would be increases in lung diseases and heavy metal poisoning, in addition to the many health harms from climate change itself “that doctors are already seeing among their patients.”
Calling such a plan “affordable” and “clean” is more of 45’s trickery. Calling it “affordable” to hang onto coal-burning power plants instead of moving to less-expensive energy sources, and calling plants that generate toxins and soot “clean,” are smoke screens to hide increasing and very expensive public health and environmental damage, just to provide small-bore savings for the fossil fuel industry.
But wait, there’s more — a deluge of recent proposals and campaigns designed to shut down efforts for a cleaner earth:
Last but not least is 45’s nomination to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of “a far-right coal hack, Bernard McNamee, as part of [45’s] long range plan to prop up the dying dinosaur that is coal.” McNamee also has been very active in denying the reality of climate change. FERC has been a nonpartisan agency that regulates the transmission and sale of electricity and natural gas in interstate commerce, along with the transportation of oil between states. With McNamee’s appointment, FERC will now become “a partisan arm of the GOP’s war on a more sustainable future.”
We must fight back against this storm of attacks on our health and the health of our planet: submit comments to proposed regulatory rollbacks, testify at hearings, and support candidates committed to defend our earth.
–Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force