With his declaration that “the war on coal is over,” EPA head Scott Pruitt has signaled the Trump administration's intent to fight America's right to breath clean air.
Speaking at an event in Kentucky alongside Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Pruitt used his big boy fighting words to initiate the administration’s directive to overturn the Clean Power Plan, which limits greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants are responsible for about one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions. The Obama-era plan was designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030, but legal challenges by industry and coal-friendly states spearheaded by then-Oklahoma attorney general Pruitt led the supreme court to put the plan on hold last year.
As the New York Times points out, jettisoning the Clean Power Plan makes it less likely the US can hold up its part of the Paris climate agreement.
The decision is the fulfillment of a campaign promise Trump made to the failing coal industry during his presidential run. But as McConnell himself pointed out at the same event, “This doesn’t immediately bring everything back.” Rather, it hopefully “means there will still be some market here.”
Not exactly the soaring rhetoric embattled Kentuckians were hoping to hear.
Even worse for energy workers, Trump, Pruitt and their unmerry band of climate change deniers aren't exactly facilitating new energy jobs to take the place of those lost in the fossil fuel industry. As Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, explains. “Trump is not just ignoring the deadly cost of pollution, he’s ignoring the clean energy deployment that is rapidly creating jobs across the country.”
According to the Times, environmental groups and several states plan to challenge the repeal proposal in federal courts, arguing against Mr. Pruitt’s move on both scientific and economic grounds.
In other words, man your stations. The lines of battle for breathing have been drawn.