Today, a draft proposal emerged of the latest step in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s attack on clean air and climate security – a proposal to revoke the Clean Power Plan, America’s only nationwide limit on carbon pollution from power plants.
The proposal offers no commitment to do anything to address dangerous carbon pollution from existing power plants – our nation’s largest industrial source of this harmful pollution.
Here are five key takeaways from the proposal that emerged today.
1. Devaluing the health and well-being of all Americans
The Clean Power Plan would deliver tremendous benefits to American communities by reducing harmful pollution. For example, EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks every year once it is fully implemented.
But in a vivid example of how little Administrator Pruitt prioritizes public health, this proposal uses discredited methods to justify the view that premature deaths and other significant health impacts from harmful air pollution don’t exist and don’t matter. It even undercuts the harms we face from carbon pollution by using methods at odds with leading experts, including the National Academy of Sciences.
Administrator Pruitt is trying to paint over the fact that undoing the Clean Power Plan will expose Americans to dirtier air, and will delay urgently needed action to address climate change.
Asthma attacks, heart attacks, floods and storm surges, wildfires, droughts, and heat waves hurt real people. EPA has a responsibility to protect the public — but Pruitt has made a priority of protecting the fossil fuel interests that have propelled his political career.
Across America, the past weeks of extreme weather have provided a tragic reminder of the threats we face from climate change. Hurricanes exacerbated by climate change – like Maria, Harvey, and Irma – have left millions reeling, with lives lost and communities profoundly disrupted for years to come.
Yet the draft proposal makes no commitment to protect Americans from dangerous climate change. Instead it “continues to consider” whether to protect Americans from carbon pollution from existing power plants (ignoring settled law that EPA must issue safeguards against climate pollution under the Clean Air Act – as the Supreme Court has already concluded three times.)
Administrator Pruitt chastised others for asking about climate change after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit, saying the timing was “insensitive.” But at that same time, he was working to roll back our nation’s most significant effort to protect Americans from climate change.
3. America should be moving ahead on clean power – not going backwards
Power market trends are moving towards cleaner power sources, creating jobs and shared economic prosperity across the country.
More and more evidence shows that achieving the Clean Power Plan’s goals will be even cheaper than expected. Yet Administrator Pruitt’s draft uses accounting gimmicks to claim costs would somehow be higher than originally anticipated.
If anything, the Clean Power Plan’s targets should be stronger. But Administrator Pruitt now seems to be pulling out the stops to shield polluting power plants from taking any steps to reduce their harmful impacts.
4. Who benefits? Pruitt’s political allies
Scott Pruitt built his political career by suing relentlessly to block EPA safeguards, including the Clean Power Plan.
Pruitt’s campaigns and political organizations received extensive contributions from Clean Power Plan opponents, including $25,000 from coal company Murray Energy just one month before the Clean Power Plan oral argument.
Those Clean Power Plan opponents now stand to benefit from this draft proposal – at the expense of the health and safety of American families.
5. Americans speak out for the Clean Power Plan
When President Trump issued an executive order in March that threatened to roll back the Clean Power Plan, Americans across the country responded with an outpouring of support.
Groups supporting the Clean Power Plan included: faith organizations; health associations; at least 75 mayors, state governors, and attorneys general representing nearly half the U.S. population; power companies; and leading companies like Apple, General Electric, and Walmart.
A similarly broad and diverse coalition has been defending the Clean Power Plan in court –including eighteen states and sixty municipalities across the country; power companies that own and operate nearly ten percent of the nation’s generating capacity; consumer and ratepayer advocates; and many others.
In a recent nationwide poll, almost 70 percent of Americans expressed support for strict limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants – including a majority of Americans in every Congressional district in the country.