EPA rolls back more Obama-era reg­u­la­tions

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON >> The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency acted again Thurs­day to ease rules on the sag­ging U.S. coal in­dus­try, this time scal­ing back what would have been a tough con­trol on cli­mate-chang­ing emis­sions from any new coal plants.

The lat­est Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion tar­get­ing of legacy Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ef­forts to slow cli­mate change comes in the wake of mul­ti­ply­ing warn­ings from the agency’s sci­en­tists and oth­ers about the ac­cel­er­at­ing pace of global warm­ing.

In a cer­e­mony Thurs­day at the agency, act­ing EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor An­drew Wheeler signed a pro­posal to dis­man­tle a 2015 rule that any new coal power plants in­clude cut­ting-edge tech­niques to cap­ture the car­bon diox­ide from their smoke­stacks.

Wheeler called the Obama rules “ex­ces­sive bur­dens” for the coal in­dus­try.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion cares about ac­tion and re­sults, not talks and wish­ful think­ing,” Wheeler said.

Asked about the harm that coal plant emis­sion do peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment, Wheeler re­sponded, “Hav­ing cheap elec­tric­ity helps hu­man health.”

Janet McCabe, an EPA air of­fi­cial un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, and oth­ers chal­lenged that. MaCabe in a state­ment cited the con­clu­sion of the EPA’s own staff ear­lier this year that pend­ing roll­backs on ex­ist­ing coal plants would cause thou­sands of early deaths from the fine soot and dan­ger­ous par­ti­cles and gases.

The EPA was “turn­ing its back on its re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect hu­man health,” McCabe said Thurs­day.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, sci­en­tists and law­mak­ers were scathing, say­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion was un­der­min­ing what they said should be ur­gent ef­forts to slow cli­mate change.

The EPA and 12 other fed­eral agen­cies late last month warned that cli­mate change caused by burn­ing coal, oil and gas al­ready was wors­en­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in the United States. It would cause hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars in dam­age each year by the end of the cen­tury, the gov­ern­ment’s Na­tional Cli­mate As­sess­ment said.

“This pro­posal is an­other il­le­gal at­tempt by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to prop up an in­dus­try al­ready buck­ling un­der the pow­er­ful force of the free mar­ket,” Sen. Shel­don White­house, a Rhode Is­land Demo­crat and mem­ber of the Se­nate En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment.

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