Editor’s note: This post was updated on October 10, 2017.
The decision by the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revoke the Clean Power Plan – our only nationwide limits on carbon pollution from power plants – is Scott Pruitt’s latest reprehensible effort to tear down America’s public health and environmental safeguards.
The proposed rule Pruitt signed today, if implemented, would put an end to a flexible and cost-effective Obama-era program to reduce unchecked carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants – measures that would prevent thousands of deaths and many more childhood asthma attacks while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are five reasons Pruitt’s proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan is so harmful, and why you need to make your voice heard now.
1. Uses faulty science to downplay public health risks
In a vivid example of how little the EPA administrator prioritizes public health, his proposal uses discredited methods to shortchange the tremendous health benefits of the Clean Power Plan. The EPA has estimated it would prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks annually once it is fully implemented.
It even undercuts the harm we face from carbon pollution by using methods that are at odds with experts at the National Academy of Sciences.
Pruitt is cooking the books at the cost of our health.
2. Ignores the fact that climate change is upon us
Over the past few weeks, hurricanes exacerbated by climate change have left millions reeling, with lives lost and communities profoundly disrupted for years to come.
Yet, Pruitt’s proposal ”continues to consider” whether to protect Americans from carbon pollution from existing power plants, while making no commitment to do so. Failing to act on climate change would ignore settled law that the EPA must issue safeguards against climate pollution under the Clean Air Act as the Supreme Court has already concluded three times.
3. Uses accounting gimmicks to inflate costs
A growing body of evidence shows that achieving the Clean Power Plan’s goals will be even cheaper than the EPA had initially estimated. But Pruitt employs accounting tricks to claim that costs would somehow be higher than originally anticipated.
Our view is that, if anything, the Clean Power Plan’s targets should be stronger.
Pruitt ignores the fact that power market trends today are moving toward cleaner power sources, creating jobs and shared economic prosperity across the country – a trend the Clean Power Plan would bolster.
4. Benefits Pruitt’s political supporters
Scott Pruitt built his political career by suing relentlessly to block EPA safeguards, including the Clean Power Plan.
His campaigns and political organizations received extensive contributions from Clean Power Plan opponents, including $25,000 from coal company Murray Energy just one month before the Clean Power Plan oral argument before a federal appeals court in June 2016.
Those industry opponents now stand to benefit from Pruitt’s proposal – at the expense of the health and safety of American families.
5. Ignores broad support for Clean Power Plan
When President Trump issued an executive order in March that threatened to roll back the Clean Power Plan, Americans across the country responded with an outpouring of support.
Faith organizations, health associations and at least 75 mayors, state governors and attorneys general who represent nearly half the United States population spoke up for the plan [PDF]. So did some power companies and leading brands such as Apple, General Electric and Walmart.
A similarly broad and diverse coalition defended the Clean Power Plan in court – including 18 states and 60 municipalities. It also included power companies that own and operate nearly 10 percent of the nation’s generating capacity, consumer and ratepayer advocates and many others.
Pruitt is ignoring this groundswell of support for pollution limits – just like he’s overlooking the fact that nearly 70 percent of Americans support strict limits on carbon pollution from power plants. That’s a majority of Americans in every congressional district in the country.
With the EPA administrator’s latest move, we all need to speak up.