PennFuture Statement: “Affordable Clean Energy” Rule Will Increase Dirty Emissions, Impacting Air Quality & Health Across Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (August 21, 2018) – PennFuture today urges the Environmental Protection Agency to reverse course on its purported replacement for the Clean Power Plan announced by the Trump administration, which would safeguard and prioritize the polluting coal industry over climate and public health. 
EPA calls this new proposal the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, but it’s neither clean nor affordable. Its own analysis says this new plan may increase emissions of harmful air pollutants and carbon pollution from dirty coal plants. Worse yet, the Trump administration is preparing a separate plan to further subsidize the unprofitable coal plants at the expense of citizens across the country. Even if Pennsylvania worked to meet its original Clean Power Plan goals in spite of this rollback, citizens will still breathe excess pollution from upwind states like Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana.  
“The EPA’s own report shows rolling back the Clean Power Plan could result in 1,400 additional deaths because of air pollution,” said Rob Altenburg, Director of PennFuture’s Energy Center. “Trump’s plan also means more Pennsylvania children suffering from asthma will miss school, and more parents will miss work to care for them.”
PennFuture urges Congress to reverse this attack on environmental protections and pursue innovative, swift climate solutions, such as Congressman Carlos Curbelo’s market-driving approach to reduce emissions, rather than allowing companies to pollute even more, putting profits over people.
“This may be the Trump administration’s most egregious attack on our environmental protections to date. In addition, the administration is proposing to repeal motor vehicle emissions standards and take away the ability of states like Pennsylvania to opt-in to higher standards. It has released this plan to weaken standards for the dirtiest power plants. And, it is expected to release new plans to subsidize unprofitable coal plants, forcing consumers to pay more for dirty power that harms them,” Altenburg said. “We need to do more to combat climate change, not less, but the Trump administration is attempting to scrap emissions standards for the biggest carbon polluters. Not only will this plan be worse for the air we all breathe, it will actually cost our citizens more than the existing Clean Power Plan. It’s a bad deal for all of us.”
This proposed plan is vastly inferior to the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan, which, following clear direction from the U.S. Supreme Court, was the first-ever rule requiring CO2 reductions from power plants. The Clean Power Plan served as the foundation of America’s commitment to the world that our nation is serious about climate action. The proposed alternative plan will, at best, slightly reduce carbon emissions but may end up actually increasing emissions, at a time when we need aggressive action.
EPA claims the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule will produce CO2 emissions reductions, but their estimates are far below the benefits of the Clean Power Plan. This means more illness and premature death from air pollution and climate change.  Undoubtedly, results would be worse for wildlife as well, as the plan would do little to stem climate impacts, and could actually contribute to the climate crisis.
PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, fighting big polluters with legal muscle, enforcing environmental laws, and supporting legislative policy that protects public health. PennFuture is engaging and educating citizens about the realities of climate change, and giving them the tools needed to influence lawmakers on the issues. Visit www.pennfuture.org for more information. 
Stephanie Rex
Director of Communications, PennFuture