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Monday March 20th

Trump rolls back Obama-era environmental protections, bolsters coal industry

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke in the Greensboro Coliseum on Tuesday, June 14.
Buy Photos Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke in the Greensboro Coliseum on Tuesday, June 14.

The order begins the process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan and focuses on bringing back jobs to the coal industry. It calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to address clean air and water, not climate change.

“That is what this is all about: bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams and making America wealthy again,” Trump said in his announcement.

The 2015 Clean Power Plan, put into place by the Barack Obama administration, aimed to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from coal power plants, large contributors of carbon dioxide emissions.

The CPP, frozen by the Supreme Court in 2016, would have shut down hundreds of coal plants, ended future construction and replaced coal power sources with renewable energy ones like solar farms.

“Perhaps no single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry,” Trump said.

But according to the EPA, 15 years under the Clean Power Plan would have cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 32 percent, compared to levels in 2005 — and would prevent 90,000 asthma attacks in children and up to 3,600 premature deaths annually.

Vien Truong, director of Green For All, an environmental advocacy group, said the CPP was designed to protect vulnerable families, like those in Flint, Michigan, who live in contact with power plant pollution.

“Trump’s latest actions guarantee that frontline families will continue to bear the burden of financial, health and climate costs,” she said.

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that by 2030, annual costs for the CPP would be between $5.1 billion and $8.4 billion — but the public health and climate benefits of the plan would be between $26 billion to $45 billion annually by 2030.

The order aims to fulfill campaign promises to bring coal jobs back to America. In a speech in West Virginia on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence said the bill marks a new era of American energy.

“We’re going to get Washington out of the way of energy producers and coal miners,” Pence said.

Trump also promised to lift restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, clean coal and shale energy.

Coal consumption dropped under Obama, but reports from the Energy Information Administration suggest this is a result of a rise in natural gas production.

The Brookings Institution reported that employment in the mining industry began to drop long before recent policies on coal production.

Trump did not address the 2015 Paris climate deal, a treaty signed by 194 countries aiming to lower carbon levels.

Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, said in a Sunday interview that the Paris agreement was a bad deal because not all countries had to take immediate steps.

Dave Rogers, a campaign representative for the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a statement Trump’s order cannot reverse clean energy progress made over recent decades.

“Our solar industry has positioned us as the number two state in the nation for installed solar, which has been key in attracting high-tech employers like Google,” Rogers said in a statement.

Millions of dollars will continue to be generated in the next few years through renewable energy, such as the Amazon Wind Farm, the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina.

“Trump can’t reverse the Clean Power Plan or our clean energy progress with the stroke of a pen,” he said in the statement. “We’ll fight him in the courts, in the streets and at the state and local level right here in North Carolina.”


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