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BURN BABY BURN

The US is axing an Obama-era coal pollution rule that is key to its climate change effort

It basically nukes the US's central attempt to curtail its contribution to climate change.
AP Photo/J. David Ake
It basically nukes the US’s central attempt to curtail its contribution to climate change.
  • Zoë Schlanger
By Zoë Schlanger

Environment reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

The Trump administration inked a plan to repeal and replace the centerpiece of former president Barack Obama’s climate change initiatives on Monday night, in a major blow to the US’s ability to meaningfully curtail its impact on advancing climate change.

Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, signed the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, which would ease pollution controls on coal-fired power plants. The Obama-era Clean Power Plan set a course to cut carbon emissions 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Trump administration’s replacement plan does not include any benchmark for carbon emissions, according to the New York Times.

But by axing the central regulations on power plants, the Trump plan will effectively cut carbon dioxide emissions just 0.7% to 1.5% from 2005 levels by 2030, the New York Times reports.

The US is the world’s second-biggest carbon emitter, second to China, thereby one of the biggest drivers of human-induced climate change.

The public has 60 days to comment on the plan before it is finalized.

As we’ve noted before, besides its impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (and therefore climate change), the Clean Power Plan reduced the number of preventable American deaths due to air pollution. Many of the same pollutants that drive climate change also cause human illness.

When it was first finalized, the Clean Power Plan was calculated to prevent:

  • 3,600 annual premature deaths from air-pollution exposure
  • 1,700 annual heart attacks
  • 90,000 annual asthma attacks
  • 300,000 missed work and school days each year

“From these reductions alone, for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan, American families will see up to $4 in health benefits,” EPA cost-benefit analysts wrote at the time.

It was calculated to save the US $34 billion in health costs every year.

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