Trump emissions plan could dirty Minnesota's air, but energy transition continues

"We've got a billionaire governor who owns coal mines".

"Yesterday, President Donald Trump gave us a deadly coal plan", Inslee said.

As one of Obama's former EPA administrators Gina McCarthy said earlier this year, undoing all Obama's climate policies will be a "difficult slog". John Barrasso from the coal state of Wyoming welcomes the overhaul of the Obama administration's 2015 regulations, called the Clean Power Plan. In June, he ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to bail out struggling coal-fueled power plants and, last month, the EPA finalized a rule that relaxes the requirements for storing toxic coal ash.

Trump, whose ascent to the presidency effectively killed off the plan, had blasted it "intrusive" and claimed it would "kill jobs".

A three-page summary being circulated at the White House focuses on boosting efficiency at coal-fired power plants and allowing states to reduce "wasteful compliance costs" while focusing on improved environmental outcomes.

"Beyond that, we are in a critical period with regard to addressing climate change", he said in an emailed statement.

The plan also would let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades, according to a summary of the plan and several people familiar with the full proposal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the plan publicly.

The models for the Trump plan also project tens of thousands of additional major asthma attacks and hundreds more heart attacks compared with the Obama plan.

"The cost of failing to act is enormous - from increases in lung disease and heavy metal poisoning to the many health harms from climate change that doctors are already seeing among their patients", said Mona Sarfaty, director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.

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"It's possible that the market has moved so far that this plan isn't going to substantially slow down progress, but it's clearly not going to inspire anything", Thornton said. "We love clean, beautiful West Virginia coal", he said, extolling the combustible mineral's superiority to less "indestructible" alternatives like windmills, gas, and solar energy. Downwind states, Howarth said in a statement, are particularly vulnerable to the choices of their upwind counterparts, who determine their air quality: Pollution levels in NY, for example, could be determined by decision made in Pennsylvania, or Ohio.

Why are they doing this? "And we know reduction in particle exposure means saved lives", said Janet McCabe, the former head of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

The EPA's new proposal is open for public comment, and a final rule is expected later this year.

Scientists say that without extensive study they can not directly link a single weather event to climate change, but that it is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires.

"Trump is obviously using the coal industry as a political football", Stockman said.

Obama's plan was created to cut US carbon dioxide emissions to 32 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, said the rule change was "at the top" of the coal industry's list of policy priorities, because utility executives had been shuttering coal plants at a fast pace when faced with the prospect of curbing emissions of not just carbon dioxide, but mercury, soot and smog-forming pollutants.

The implementation of those rules were halted by the Supreme Court in 2016, to give the courts time to consider the arguments over whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had exceeded its legal authority.

Some environmentalists and states attorneys general have announced plans to sue the Trump administration over the new rule, citing both health risks and longer-term impacts on health and then environment as a result of climate change.

Trump has vowed to end what Republicans call a "war on coal" waged by Obama.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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