For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Brian Willis, 202.675.2386,

Thousands of Deaths Per Year, Billions of Dollars Lost: Trump Advances Dirty Power Plan

WASHINGTON - In the midst of intense public pressure for action on the climate crisis, former coal lobbyist and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler did the opposite today by finalizing the Trump Administration's plan to roll back the Clean Power Plan - the first-ever safeguards from carbon pollution for existing power plants. Wheeler’s alternative -- the Dirty Power Plan -- is a deadly rollback and an illegal giveaway to the coal industry that EPA previously estimated  could result in up to 1,400 pollution related deaths every year.

Amid his proposal for this climate rollback, Wheeler drew even harsher criticism when The New York Times reported that he was planning to order the EPA to ignore peer-reviewed science in order to warp the math about the costs of the policy and cover up its negative effects on public health. Trump and Wheeler’s decision to move forward with his rollback plan, despite significant public and scientific opposition, fits with a pattern of anti-climate, anti-public health policy. Wheeler also disregarded public sentiment and peer-reviewed science for his unlawful rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, a critical safeguard against power plant pollution that EPA previously determined would save thousands of lives.

The Clean Power Plan was a milestone policy that created a national plan to not only reduce carbon and conventional air pollution, but to also encourage the growth of America's clean energy economy, particularly the direct transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy. It empowered every state to transition to clean energy sources and gave certainty to the energy community on how they could plan, grow, and collaborate. The Dirty Power Plan, on the other hand, is an economic loser. EPA previously estimated that even under Trump’s dream scenario, our country would lose between $2 billion and $11 billion dollars per year in climate and public health benefits by replacing the Clean Power Plan with the Dirty Power Plan.

Wheeler’s rollback not only attempts to block the benefits of the Clean Power Plan, but reveals the Trump administration’s callous indifference to the thousands of Americans whose lives and health will be jeopardized each year by increased pollution.

In response, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, released the following statement:

“Trump and Wheeler are pushing a plan that will lead to thousands of deaths while ignoring the public’s demands for aggressive climate action, just so a handful of wealthy coal executives can make a little more money. 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.

“With more than 50 coal plants announced to retire since Trump was elected and five states and over 125 cities committed to 100% clean energy, this illegal rollback won’t save the coal industry, but it will jeopardize the lives and health of thousands of Americans each year. And rather than listening to science and the public by taking climate action, Trump and Wheeler’s Dirty Power Plan throws out some of the most important climate policies our country has ever seen and replaces them with a do-nothing policy that will actually increase pollution at many dirty plants. Coal executives are getting exactly what they paid for, and everyone else is getting sick and ripped off.

“We will continue to challenge this Dirty Power Plan at every opportunity and fight for every life that Trump and Wheeler are threatening with this rollback. Nothing less than the health of our communities and our planet is at stake.”


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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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