Climate advocacy groups on Wednesday decried the Trump administration's killing of the Clean Power Plan.
"This is an immoral and an illegal attack on clean air, clean energy, and the health of the public, and it shows just how heartless the Trump administration is when it comes to appeasing its polluters allies," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
The rollback of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan—which, for the first time imposed reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants—was done to put in place the so-called Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) plan. A better name, say critics, would be the Dirty Power Plan.
Environmental campaigners, including 350.org executive director May Boeve, panned a previous version of the Trump plan. Boeve called it "an all-out assault on our climate and communities" that "gives more power to fossil fuel polluters while leaving people to deal with the consequences of a worsening climate crisis."
Specifically, The Hill reported Wednesday, ACE "aims to give states more time and authority to decide how to implement the best new technology to ease net emissions from coal-fired plants." It also gets rid of "a review process that mandates older power plants to mitigate their emissions levels," the outlet added.
"Our ACE rule will incentivize new technology which will ensure coal plants will be part of a cleaner future," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at an event at agency headquarters attended by coal state lawmakers, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and a dozen coal miners in uniform.
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The Union of Concerned Scientists, however, call the rule a "sham" that relies on "crooked math."
"The EPA is attempting to justify this woefully weak rule by lowballing the cost of climate impacts and dismissing the benefits of cutting the harmful pollutants like particulate matter that are emitted along with carbon dioxide when power plants burn fossil fuels. This blatantly dishonest tactic has only one purpose: to hide the harm to public health," said Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and policy director of UCS's Climate and Energy Program.
The agency, said Cleetus, is "trying to normalize this twisted cost-benefit analysis to make it easier to weaken a range of safeguards under the Clean Air Act and other public health-based laws, including those that would curb global warming emissions."
"But Administrator Wheeler's crooked math cannot alter fundamental reality," she continued. "Climate change is costly and dirtier air will harm all of us, especially children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations."
The change comes as signs of the climate crisis become more and more clear.
"As the Midwest drowns from unrelenting, powerful downpours, wildfire season kicks into high gear in the West, and cities along the Atlantic coast watch sea levels rise outside their doorsteps each day," said Environment America's Andrea McGimsey, "it is a travesty that the Trump administration is reversing course on clean power and a stable climate."
Still, all may not be lost.
Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, "we're confident this attack on our lungs and our planet won't survive in the courts."