Trump Administration Removes Scientific Information about Climate Change in Proposed Rollback of Clean Power Plan

September 4, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Washington, D.C. – September 5, 2018) The Trump Administration has removed the vast majority of information about climate change from its proposal to scrap the Clean Power Plan and replace it with a vastly weaker program that would substantially increase climate pollution – including information that “emission reduction choices made today matter in determining impacts … in the coming centuries and millennia” and that recent scientific studies strengthen the case that climate pollution endangers public health and welfare.

“These changes raise serious questions about why EPA removed fundamental information about climate science from a proposed rule that deals specifically with climate pollution,” said EDF Director of Regulatory Policy and Lead Attorney Tomás Carbonell. “This administration has a long history of attempting to censor the science underpinning our most important health and environmental protections, and this seems to be an egregious example of that. Climate change is a clear and present danger to all Americans and ignoring it is not an option.”

The missing language is in the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) of the Trump Administration’s proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE). RIA’s are required statements of costs and benefits that accompany every major agency rule.

ACE was designed to replace the Clean Power Plan – which established America’s only nationwide limits on climate pollution from power plants. ACE, by contrast, is a weak rule that will increase health-harming pollution from power plants and, by EPA’s own estimates, could result in more than one thousand additional deaths per year by 2030 compared to the Clean Power Plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced ACE on August 21.

Last Friday, August 31, EPA released an earlier draft of the RIA for ACE that had been sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review on July 23. That earlier draft contained language describing the growing evidence that climate change is having severe impacts on the health and well-being of Americans, and pointing out that a failure to reduce climate pollution now would have significant long-term impacts. The language was deleted in the version of the proposed rule that was released to the public.

Here’s the missing language from the July 23 RIA:

            1.2.2 Health and Welfare Impacts from Climate Change

“According to the National Research Council, ‘Emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth’s climate. Because CO2 in the atmosphere is long lived, it can effectively lock Earth and future generations into a range of impacts, some of which could become very severe. Therefore, emission reduction choices made today matter in determining impacts experienced not just over the next few decades, but in the coming centuries and millennia.’”

“In 2009, EPA Administrator issued the Endangerment Finding under CAA section 202(a)(1).8 In the Endangerment Finding, the Administrator found that the current, elevated concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare of current and future generations in the United States.

“Since the administrative record concerning the Endangerment Finding closed following EPA’s 2010 Reconsideration Denial, the climate has continued to change, with new records being set for a number of climate indicators such as global average surface temperatures, Arctic sea ice retreat, CO2 concentrations, and sea level rise. Additionally, a number of major scientific assessments have been released that improve understanding of the climate system and strengthen the case that GHGs endanger public health and welfare both for current and future generations. These assessments are from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and the National Research Council (NRC).”

The above language was marked for deletion in an August 13 redline version that also appears in the docket, and none of this text appears in the final RIA.

This is the language that remains in the RIA released to the public on August 21:

             4.2 Climate Change Impacts

In 2009, EPA Administrator found that elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare. It is these adverse impacts that necessitate EPA regulation of GHGs from EGU sources. Since 2009, other science assessments suggest accelerating trends.”

It is not clear who requested the change.

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