Trump trashes clean power plan. Sorry about the thousands of needless deaths…
Showing that climate science deniers really are in charge now, Pr*sident Donald Trump took a giant leap backward Tuesday with his signing of the “Energy Independence Executive Order.” The order begins the process of undoing President Barack Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, rescinds a temporary ban on new coal leases on federal lands, dumps a federal guidance to factor in climate change in policymaking, and dismantles the government team that measures the social cost of carbon, methane and nitrous oxide.
Flanked in the Environmental Protection Agency map room by coal miners, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Vice President Mike Pence each spoke briefly—announcing the signing with lots of blather about national security, energy independence, innovation, an end to “regulatory assault,” but not—SURPRISE!—a single word about climate change. Pence noted that the “war on coal” is over.
President Trump himself said the executive order is about growing America’s wealth, gaining energy independence, and creating more employment by ending “job-killing regulations,” adding that “we will put our miners back to work.”
In addition to adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, killing the Clean Power Plan might slow down the decline of coal used to generate electricity for a while, according to projections from the Energy Information Administration. But while coal production may rise a bit, those coal miners providing a backdrop for the signing are likely to be especially bitter when the resurrected coal jobs don’t pan out. Most jobs the industry has shed in the past two decades have fallen to automation and cheap natural gas.
While Trump and the other regime officials at the signing made a big deal of business unfettered by federal regulations, critics of the executive order had a different take on its outcome:
“With climate change threatening many businesses and our entire economy, it’s surprising that President Trump didn’t even mention it. We need more federal support for clean energy technologies,” said David Levine, chief executive of the American Sustainable Business Council, which represents 250,000 businesses.
“The administration unreasonably favors high-carbon fuels like coal over clean energy from wind and solar,” he continued. “This strategy will kill domestic jobs, since renewable energy creates more jobs than fossil fuels. And it will give other countries a competitive advantage over us if we fail to build the a clean energy industry here at home.”
Eliminating the CPP would result in boosting carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions of more than 500 million metric tons in 2030 and 1.2 billion metric tons in 2050. That, of course, makes no never-mind to numbskulls like Pruitt, who says CO2 is not a primary contributor to climate change.
The United States is pledged under Paris to reduce its emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025. It’s done about a third of that. Attaining the rest of the goal was to be achieved by several regulations, including the Clean Power Plan. But studies have shown that even those wouldn’t be enough. Marianne Lavelle reports:
David Bookbinder, a longtime environmental lawyer and a fellow at the libertarian think tank the Niskanen Center, released a new analysis that puts the shortfall at 1 billion metric tons if Trump succeeds in undoing most of the Obama-era climate rules. Meaning, emissions from the world’s second-largest carbon polluter would be virtually unchanged from today. That would jeopardize any chance the world has to set a course of deep and rapid decarbonization over the next critical few years.
While environmental activists are obviously furious, they aren’t alone:
“This is not just dangerous; it’s embarrassing to us and our businesses on a global scale to be dismissing opportunities for new technologies, economic growth, and US leadership,” Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.
Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called Trump’s actions “a declaration of war on American leadership on climate change and our clean energy future” in his own statement.
There will be other damage, too.
Jeffrey Rissman, the chief of Modeling & Energy at Energy Innovation, leads modeling efforts for Energy Policy Solutions. He writes:
Cumulative net costs to the U.S. economy (in increased capital, fuel, and operations and maintenance (O&M) expenditures) would exceed $100 billion by 2030 and would reach nearly $600 billion by 2050.[…]
Although the CPP’s focus is on reducing carbon emissions, the same policies also reduce particulate pollution, which is responsible for thousands of heart attacks and respiratory diseases each year. Repealing the CPP would increase particulate emissions, causing more than 40,000 premature deaths in 2030 and more than 120,000 premature deaths in 2050.
The administration can expect a barrage of lawsuits. But those will take a long time to work their way through the courts. And even if they succeed, the Trump regime is determined to undermine anything that would ameliorate the impacts of climate change.
(Originally appeared at DailyKos. Image from WhiteHouse.gov)