Donald Trump’s anti-climate Environmental Protection Agency announced on Friday a change in policy that could lead to thousands of pollution-related deaths per year.
According to The New York Times, “The Trump administration proposed on Friday major changes to the way the federal government calculates the benefits, in human health and safety, of restricting mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants.”
The report notes that the administration concluded the cost businesses have to pay for the environmental protections are too high to justify the clear health benefits.
In other words, saving money for a pro-Trump special interest group is more important than saving lives.
More from The New York Times:
[The rule change] drastically changed the formula the government uses in its required cost-benefit analysis of the regulation by taking into account only certain effects that can be measured in dollars, while ignoring or playing down other health benefits.
The result could set a precedent reaching far beyond mercury rules. “It will make it much more difficult for the government to justify environmental regulations in many cases,” said Robert N. Stavins, a professor of environmental economics at Harvard University.
In announcing the proposed rule, the E.P.A. said that the costs to industry in installing pollution controls ranged from $7.4 billion to $9.6 billion annually, while the health benefits of cutting mercury ranged from $4 million to $6 million annually. In other words, it said that the costs of the rule outweigh the benefits.
The Obama rule prevented 11,000 premature deaths and thousands of other health issues
As The New York Times pointed out, “Among other things, the Obama administration calculations estimated that the rules would prevent 11,000 premature deaths not from curbing mercury itself, but from what is known as a co-benefit, the reduction in particulate matter linked to heart and lung disease that also occur when a plant reduces its mercury emissions. The Trump administration’s revised procedures would essentially ignore co-benefits and count only the direct potential benefits of cutting mercury.”
Not only does that open the door to thousands of premature deaths, but as the report also pointed out, it could lead to nearly 5,000 more heart attacks and 130,000 more asthma attacks.
It has become abundantly clear not only that the Trump administration rejects the science of climate change, but that they care very little about the devastating impacts that some types of pollution have on people – especially if it gets in the way of lining energy industry pockets.
After promising to drain the swamp of special interest money, the president is shaping policy based on what the fossil fuel industry wants – and it could cost thousands of American lives.