Don’t breathe

Don’t breathe a word of this to anyone. In fact, don’t breathe at all if the wrecking crew at the Environmental Protection Agency has its way. You see, the EPA plans to kill off people with air pollution.

This is all part of the Trump dis-administration’s effort to roll back Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have drastically reduced air pollution from coal-burning plants, in favor of Trump’s own Affordable Energy Plan, designed to encourage increased consumption of coal. It’s all part of Trump’s campaign promise to revitalize the coal mining industry.

Whenever a federal agency is contemplating a change to existing regulations, it is expected to demonstrate that the proposed rule change would increase benefits to society rather than impose additional costs.

But when the political appointees at the EPA ran the numbers of projected deaths from particulate matter pollution (which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory problems), the numbers showed that Trump’s Affordable Energy Plan would cause an estimated 1400 additional deaths per year.

So they just changed the formula.

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to use a bogus method for estimating premature deaths from air pollution, dramatically lowering the death toll to help justify President Trump’s decision to roll back clean air rules and bail out the coal industry.  

The New York Times reports that public health experts say the new modeling method is not sound and has never been reviewed by independent scientists. It ignores decades of research by EPA scientists, instead relying on “unfounded medical assumptions” that there is no benefit to air that is any cleaner than is required by law – even when those standards are not strictly based on protecting health but are the product of political and economic compromise.

“Using fake math to hide the death toll from dirty air at the behest of the coal industry is sadly consistent with the Trump administration’s complete disregard for public health,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s senior science advisor for children’s environmental health. “This sleight of hand means that more adults may die early and more children may become victims of asthma.” (Environmental working Group

This is a classic example of the quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and popularized by Mark Twain: There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies, and statistics. The Trumpers are masters of all three.

Trump’s campaign promise to bring back coal jobs was always absurd, another blatant lie. Coal is in steep decline not because of air pollution regulations but because it is no longer economically viable. Natural gas is just plain cheaper.

Trump’s lies certainly garnered him a lot of votes and apparently coal miners still support him by a wide margin. Even the unemployed ones.

And Trump’s courting of the coal industry certainly helped his election effort in another way: huge campaign contributions. In 2016, coal industry campaign contributions topped $13 million, with 97% of that money going to Republican candidates.

What did the coal executives get with that investment? Well, the coal industry is still in decline. But Trump’s effort to overturn the Obama Clean Power Program will, if successful, allow old, outmoded coal-fired power plants to keep operating far longer than they would have under the Obama plan.

And, of course, they’re getting those estimated 1400 additional premature deaths per year due to coal pollution. In fact, a Harvard study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association last year found that Trump’s plan could lead to an additional 36,000 premature deaths and 630,000 cases of childhood asthma over the next ten years.

At a campaign rally in Dallas in 2016, Trump spoke about how he was going to get rid of government regulations that cut into corporate profits. He said, “We are going to get rid of the regulations that are just destroying us. You can’t breathe—you cannot breathe.”

No kidding.

 

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