News Analysis: Trump administration coal emissions rollback bad business

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-26 03:17:43|Editor: Chengcheng
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by Peter Mertz

DENVER, the United States, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Trump administration plans to open the skies to more harmful pollutants are not just bad for the air Americans breathe but also economically unwise, scientists and environmentalists are clamoring.

"When it comes to costs the administration is being myopic," Lisa Nurnberger, media director of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), told Xinhua on Thursday.

On Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was gutting another Obama administration initiative to protect the environment from harmful Greenhouse Gas emissions by allowing each state to regulate its own coal factory output.

"The administration is clearly intent on swinging its wrecking ball at two of the most important national policies that address climate change," UCS President Ken Kimmell said.

After Trump officials announced in March they would relax auto emissions standards, a Fortune article noted, "Reducing fuel economy and emissions standards would undermine the global competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry."

The double dagger, into decades of scientific research and regulations designed to protect citizens from harmful air and economic expense, has stunned American scientists and environmentalists.

"Coming on the heels of the proposed rollback of EPA's clean car standards, this shows the administration plans to sit on its hands while communities reel from heat waves, drought, wildfires and flooding, all of which are worsened by climate change," Kimmell said.

"The vehicle standards, which the administration plans to gut, would have saved motorists money at the pump and helped the economy," he added.

The downside costs related to the Trump administration plans to reverse restrictions on both auto and coal factory emissions under the pretense it will "make America strong" have been voiced loudly by scientists across the land.

"The administration's new coal plant proposal will increase emissions and increase public health impacts...and the proposal could even increase costs under some scenarios," Nurnberger told Xinhua on Thursday.

UCS was founded in 1969 by Nobel Prize physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - considered the top scientific university in the United States - ahead of Stanford and Harvard.


In May, 17 U.S. states sued the Trump administration over auto emissions standard rollbacks that reversed regulations for cleaner air enacted during the Obama era.

Leading environmentalists and scientists were quick to point out that Trump's Tuesday gift to his "miniscule" coal baron base follows a bevy of research in the past 90 days saying that his vehicle emission rollback plans are also fraught with economic and public safety potholes.

"Like many of Trump's policy proposals, rolling back fuel economy standards would achieve nothing but raise costs on everyday people in this country," said Greenpeace USA senior research specialist Tim Donaghy.

Donaghy was referring to a study last month by San Francisco-based Energy Innovation, a think tank on environmental policy and technology titled: "Trump's fuel economy standard rollback will cost 450 billion dollars through 2050, increase emissions 11 percent through 2035."

"Instead of protecting our climate and reducing air pollution; or creating jobs by building up our expertise in renewable technology, Trump's economy doubles down on fossil fuels at the expense of people's health and economic well being," Donaghy told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Greenpeace, founded 48 years ago, was quick to weigh in with a piece Wednesday called " Trump's Rollback of the Clean Power Plan Could Cost Lives."

"The administration's attempts to resuscitate the coal industry will lead to even more destructive climate catastrophes, air pollution illnesses and fatalities, and U.S. workers left out of the renewable energy future," Greenpeace climate and energy expert Janet Redman said on Tuesday.


UCS published a study in April by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., which said that curtailing emissions and fuel economy standards would "reduce employment by 126,000 jobs in 2035, as investments in the auto-sector are reduced and consumers spend more of their income on gasoline."

"Oil companies Win, Everyone Else Loses," UCS senior engineer Don Anair blogged earlier this month.

"If the standards are rolled back as proposed, the U.S. will pump out an extra 2.2 billion metric tons of global warming emissions and consume 200 billion more gallons of fuel by 2040," Anair said.

The Synapse Energy study said, "Clean vehicle standards are predicted to create significant job growth in the United States."

The consistent theme by environmentalists - that clean energy alternatives are already entrenched and are not just economically viable but increasingly profitable - has escaped current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy, a number of experts told Xinhua.

The Synapse study estimates that clean cars and trucks will add "more than 100,000 jobs in 2025 with that number increasing to more than 250,000 in 2035."

"In addition to job growth, clean vehicle standards benefit the U.S. gross domestic product, increasing it by more than 13 billion U.S. dollars in 2025 and more than 16 billion U.S. dollars in 2035," it asserted.


On the West coast, the extensive study released in late July by Energy Innovation reiterated the theme that reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning would not only slow global warming but was good for the economy.

"The Trump administration continues to demonstrate blatant disregard for climate science," said Robbie Orvis, co-author of the July 26 Energy Innovation study.

Orvis, educated at Yale and Berkeley, is the director of Energy Policy Design at Energy Innovation and co-leads a project for the Chinese government to provide guidance for China's 13th Five-Year Plan and climate strategy.

"The latest move to undo the Clean Power Plan is another attempt to undermine the common sense cost-effective policies currently in place that would help reduce the United States' emissions," Orvis told Xinhua.

"In both instances - the fuel economy rollbacks and now the Clean Power Plan rollback - the administration's actions will hurt consumers' pocketbooks while driving up emissions," he said Thursday.

Orvis agreed on Anair's analysis that oil companies will profit "in the form of higher gasoline bills" passed onto the American consumer.

And, "leadership on automotive technology" will be lost "at a time when other countries, like China, are moving full steam ahead, putting our own automotive industry at risk," Orvis added.