Report: Trump administration effort to change the math regarding air pollution will kill and harm thousands of Americans
Is the Trump administration willing to kill thousands of people to satisfy its coal industry patrons? A New York Times report indicates they might. President Trump wants to allow coal mines to remain in operation longer than current federal rules would allow. To justify that, some at the EPA have complied to change the math in dubious ways, allowing Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy rule to move forward.
After the EPA found that Trump’s new rule would lead to the deaths of 1,400 more Americans a year, the administration could not defend the rule.
According to Vice News, Trump’s rule would also “cause up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, a rise in bronchitis, and tens of thousands of missed school days.”
It seemed that Trump’s efforts to stop the so-called “War on Coal” would be thwarted. More coal miners would be out of a job, as coal power plants are quickly becoming obsolete as clean energy becomes more affordable. So, the administration ordered EPA scientists to find a new model with a lower body count and once more roll back Obama-era regulations in the Clean Power Plan.
The Obama regulations never got the chance to go into effect after Attorneys General from more than two dozen Republican-controlled states challenged the EPA’s authority to impose the rules on states. The Supreme Court then stayed the rules.
Not be be missed, in today's department of excellent journalism: @LFFriedman piece on how EPA is adopting a new formula for its upcoming power plant rule that will shrink projections of how many Americans' lives will be shortened by air pollution https://t.co/fSlEh1DtjF https://t.co/lIz40ZfgG7
— Juliet Eilperin (@eilperin) May 20, 2019
According to CNN:
“The different method for evaluating health impacts, according to the paper, is notable because it discards more than a decade of peer-reviewed EPA methods and relies on unfounded medical assumptions.'”
Whistleblowers say the new model is inaccurate and will whitewash the death toll of dirty energy. It could also be used to justify still more air pollution.
— HarvardPublicHealth (@HarvardChanSPH) March 30, 2019
The new methodology would assume there is little or no health benefit to making the air any cleaner than what the law requires.
Former fossil-fuel-industry lobbyist and current EPA air-quality chief, William L. Wehrum seems to have decided the EPA’s current model determining pollution within the “safe” range is more than adequate. There’s no benefit to public health in reducing it further, which is absurd.
The EPA panel of 20 people that determined that thousands of Americans would die was disbanded and in their place, a 7-person committee led by a fossil-fuel industry funded statistician, Tony Cox, took over in their place.
According to NPR, Cox and other members of the committee argued in March against any need to prevent soot in the air.
“At a public meeting Thursday that ran nearly two hours long, multiple members of that committee, including Chair Tony Cox and Steven Packham of the Utah Division of Air Quality, said they do not agree that breathing air polluted with soot can lead to an early death.”
“This is waving a red flag in front of a bull, so I acknowledge that,” Cox said after expressing his disgust at what he said was a lack of scientific evidence.
Francesca Dominici, a biostatistician at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has defended the evidence as plentiful and widely supported by scientists. In fact, the EPA standards may not be safe enough.
“The EPA has a very well-vetted process that has been going on over the years called the weight of the evidence,” said Dominici. “This is a process that has been endorsed not only by the EPA, but by the National Academy of Sciences, [and] is pretty well accepted by the scientific community.”
Our study is out! EPA safety standards for short term exposure to air pollution are not safe enough https://t.co/fSvBhWkIS4
— francesca dominici (@francescadomin8) December 26, 2017
The Los Angeles Times called Cox out as “a ‘fringe’ scientist and ideologue pushing policies detrimental to public health.” Two air pollution scientists warned that Cox is “ignoring consensus viewpoints on the effects of smog and particulate pollution.”
In a paper published in @sciencemagazine, air pollution scientists @GretchenTG and @francescadomin8 say that #CASAC chairman Tony Cox is ignoring consensus viewpoints on the effects of #smog and particulate #pollution. @latimes @susrust @tonybarboza https://t.co/yk5l73cS9L
— Environmental Protection Network (@EnvProtectioNet) March 21, 2019
Once more, the Trump administration seems to be willing to roll back progress to prop up the coal industry. The cost of doing so can’t be simply erased by changing the math.
The Intelligencer puts it this way:
“The Trump administration’s problem is that it doesn’t wish to admit that it is willing to kill thousands of Americans to keep its coal-industry patrons in the black.”
As difficult as this news is for those who want cleaner air, the good news is that some states are responding to strengthen environmental laws even as the Trump administration seeks to weaken them.
More from PBS News Hour below:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube