Trump's Dirty Energy Plan Will SHOCK YOU! Like With Electricity, Until You Are Dead.


After announcing it would kill Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan last fall, the Trump Administration is finally rolling out its own replacement regulations, cleverly titled the "Affordable Clean Energy" rule, which is obviously much better because it is affordable, because it has Affordable right there in the name. (This is different from health care, and the Affordable Care Act, which is named Obamacare and therefore does not have Affordable in its name.) The biggest upshot of the new rules is that where Obama's plan would have reduced US greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent by 2030, the new rules hope market forces will reduce greenhouse emissions by somewhere between 0.7 percent and 1.5 percent, according to the EPA's estimates. Bummer for polar bears, not to mention other large mammals like Donald Trump, you, and me.

Say, have you happened to look at the sky lately? Oh, you can't because it is blocked by smoke. Womp womp.

But look at the upside! By keeping old dirty coal plants in service much, much longer, the power generation sector will save $400 million a year, and coal CEOs will make out like bandits. And the only cost will be to people breathing dirty air -- as the New York Times reports, Trump's EPA acknowledges, in the fine print, the additional pollution from burning all that coal will also cause between 470 and 1,400 additional deaths per year, plus untold medical bills from lung disease, plus more particulate matter, and of course all the CO2 to heat up the planet more. Fortunately, we'll all be so busy celebrating how great we are, nobody will notice.

You see, all those old dirty coal plants that Trump wants to stay in service don't just spew carbon dioxide into the air; they also literally make people sick. Burning coal emits lung-unfriendly pollutants such as sulfur dioxide. It also releases nitrogen oxides that lead to ozone -- and ozone in the form of smog damages lungs, too. Under Trump's plan, states will be allowed to set their own standards for emissions from those old plants, and if they decide not to reduce emissions at all, well that's just fine, because states' rights, hooray. If Trump's plans for looser vehicle emissions are any model, we should assume blue states won't be allowed to get too tough on air quality, of course.

Obama's Clean Power Plan would have pushed electric utilities to phase out coal plants in favor of cleaner solar and wind where possible, or at the very least natural gas, and that wouldn't merely have reduced the threat of climate change, it would have saved lives:

Mr. Obama's E.P.A. also estimated that, by 2030, the Clean Power Plan would result in 180,000 fewer missed school days per year by children because of ozone-related illnesses. Asthma instances would also drop significantly, according to the analysis.

By contrast, the Trump administration analysis finds that own its plan would see 48,000 new cases of exacerbated asthma and at least 21,000 new missed days of school annually by 2030 because those pollutants would increase in the atmosphere rather than decrease.

It should be noted, however, that people with asthma and lung disease didn't give nearly as much money to Trump's campaign as the coal industry did, so they only have themselves to blame. Besides, most coal-fired power plants are surrounded by poor and minority communities, which suffer disproportionately from the health effects of all that pollution. Again, did those people vote for Trump? Clearly expendable.

Just to add to the beauty of the new Trump era, another new EPA proposal might also do away with the very studies in the EPA reports that suggest people will be killed and made sicker by dirty old coal plants. The EPA wants to enshrine a terrible Republican plan to prohibit government from using any study in which all research data isn't published. Rs have pushed this as a "transparency" measure, but it would actually restrict consideration of vast amounts of medical research -- as the Times notes,

Scientists overwhelmingly oppose the move, pointing out that participants in long-term health studies typically agree to take part only if their personal health information won't be made public.

Had that restriction been in effect when the "Affordable Clean Energy" plan was rolled out, EPA could ignore the predictions of increased deaths and illness it already relegated to the fine print, since the studies making those projections would be verboten. Isn't fucking around with science fun? Heck, we bet most studies showing smoking causes cancer relied on confidential medical records, so just imagine what eliminating other burdensome regulations could do for the tobacco industry!

Welcome to your beautiful now smoke-filled era of prosperity, America! Maybe Donald Trump will build big beautiful coal plants -- with the loose standards he'll allow states to set -- at each of his golf resorts, to prove they're perfectly safe. Surely he wouldn't be a hypocrite about all this.

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[NYT / WaPo / Scientific American / WaPo]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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