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EPA: New Rule May Result in More Premature Deaths

'New York Times' looks into the fine print of new coal pollution rules
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2018 10:40 AM CDT
In this July 27, 2018, photo, a coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyo.   (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

(Newser) – President Trump visits West Virginia Tuesday, and it's a safe bet he'll be trumpeting the proposal his administration just unveiled to ease up on coal plants. The Affordable Clean Energy Rule would roll back an Obama-era plan on emissions deemed too heavy-handed by the Trump administration, reports the Washington Post. Under the Trump plan, states—and not the federal EPA—would have the authority to regulate the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, per the AP. "The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans," says acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler in a statement. The New York Times, meanwhile, digs into the fine print and finds one aspect of the new rule unlikely to be celebrated: a prediction of more premature deaths.

For starters, within the reams of technical analysis accompanying the plan is the assertion that, when compared to the Obama plan, "implementing the proposed rule is expected to increase emissions of carbon dioxide and the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health." And while the Obama plan said it would help prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths annually by 2030, the EPA now predicts the nation will see between 470 and 1,400 premature deaths annually by that same year. The reason is an expected uptick in particulates in the air known as PM 2.5, which have been linked to heart disease, lung disease, asthma, and bronchitis. (Meanwhile, the Trump administration is preparing for a big fight on fuel standards with California.)

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