Today President Trump signed an executive order commanding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to weaken a range of important public heath protections, including steps to revoke the Clean Power Plan, America’s first-ever standards to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from large power plants. By finalizing this plan in 2015, the agency stepped in to protect the health of all Americans in a way that also protects consumers.
Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, made the following statement:
“Let’s face facts: Rolling back public health protections will cost American lives. By allowing pollution levels to go up, President Trump is also allowing premature deaths to go up, heart attacks and asthma attacks to go up, and sick days from work and school to go up. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s own scientific analysis, revoking the Clean Power Plan – which reduces a range of dangerous air pollutants in addition to carbon – would cause each year up to 3,600 more premature deaths, 1,700 more heart attacks, 90,000 more asthma attacks, and 300,000 more missed work days and school days.
“Today’s order also commands a review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s and the Bureau of Land Management’s protections against methane pollution. By taking that step, the Administration is undercutting common-sense remedies to a serious problem. As much as 10 million metric tons of America’s natural gas are wasted each year through leaks, venting, and flaring of methane pollution – enough natural gas to fuel the needs of every home in Pennsylvania or Ohio for an entire year. Along with this waste of resources and taxpayer revenue comes toxic, smog-forming, air pollution that threatens the health of hundreds of thousands of Americans living near oil and gas wells, compressors, and other gathering, production, and transportation sites. By asking the agencies to dismantle these basic public health safeguards, the Administration is ensuring that the natural gas industry will not be able live up to its reputation for providing a cleaner fuel.
“The executive order also seeks to end the use of an important measure of the economic harm caused by the impacts of climate change. This measure, known as the social cost of carbon, was developed through a transparent and rigorous interagency process and based on the latest peer-reviewed science and economics. The social cost of carbon is essential to ensuring sound, consistent analysis of climate policy based on public health impacts. Rolling back its use across the federal government will not only lead to regulatory confusion, but help conceal the costs of carbon pollution, skewing analysis and biasing policy against common sense solutions that protect property and public health.
“This executive order doesn’t just turn its back on our kids, our seniors, and the most vulnerable among us. It turns its back on the next generation. The president seeks to repeal life-saving safeguards yet offers no replacement plan to protect our communities and families from the clear and present danger of climate pollution, and move our nation toward a clean energy economy. This executive order takes us backward to an era of more pollution and more disease.”
- Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund
Background: The Clean Power Plan
The Clean Power Plan is designed to ensure healthier, longer lives for Americans in all parts of our nation. Once implemented it would prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work or school days every year.
The Clean Power Plan gives all states tremendous flexibility in designing solutions to achieve pollution reductions based on their own policy priorities and prerogatives – including cost-effective energy-saving solutions that would save an average American family an estimated $85 a year in electricity bills.
Millions of Americans and an extraordinarily broad and diverse coalition — including numerous states and cities, former Republican heads of EPA, leading businesses such as Google and Apple, numerous power companies, public health groups including the America Lung Association, and many more — are currently defending the Clean Power Plan in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Large majorities of Americans support the Clean Power Plan – including in states that are currently challenging these vital safeguards in court.
Today’s executive order ignores settled law that greenhouse gases are pollutants under the Clean Air Act, as found in three Supreme Court opinions in the last decade. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Clean Air Act provision that underlies the Clean Power Plan “speaks directly” to climate pollution from existing power plants. Just like mercury and acid rain, greenhouse gases are regulated under our nation’s clean air law due to the cascade of serious health and environmental impacts that follow from the discharge of these dangerous contaminants.
Today’s order also disregards America’s clean energy economy, which is already a powerful economic engine across the country. The bi-partisan Governors’ Wind and Solar Coalition, led by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, recently sent a compelling letter to President Trump highlighting the shared economic benefits of clean energy, including for low income rural communities:
“The nation’s wind and solar energy resources are transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the passage of the Homestead Act over 150 years ago.”
Their letter detailed the impressive contributions of wind and solar to the American economy —particularly to low-income rural communities — such as the $222 million in revenue paid by U.S. wind facilities to rural landowners every year, and the 200,000 people employed in the solar industry in 2016, with 31,000 new jobs added last year alone.
The administration’s agenda would run rough-shod over years of thoughtful policy-making – based on extensive public comment and judicial review – designed to move our nation toward cleaner energy. We need to move forward to the clean energy economy, not backward to an era of more pollution and disease.
Americans in all regions of our nation do not want dirtier water and air. They overwhelmingly support a strong, effective Environmental Protection Agency. We will fight any attacks on clean air and clean water in Congress, the courts, in boardrooms and alongside Americans from both parties who work to safeguard healthier, longer lives for our children and our families.
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.