The president’s executive order last week directing the reversal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, may well cost the U.S. more clean-energy employment than any coal-mining jobs it restores. But even more worrisome may be the lives lost from the continued burning of coal.
The Clean Power Plan, a set of rules that would have accelerated the shutdown of coal-fired plants, was the cornerstone of the U.S.’ commitment to curbing emissions under the 2015 Paris climate accord. Repeal would set back, to say the least, America’s efforts to meet the country’s agreed-upon 2025 goal of lowering emissions by 26% below 2005 levels. Critics were quick to point out the rollback’s cost to the U.S. economy in growth and jobs.
Energy Innovation, a San Francisco energy policy firm, plugged data into a widely used energy policy simulator to calculate that repeal of Clean Power Plan would cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion by 2030 and $600 million by 2050, in increased capital, fuel, and maintenance. Bob Keefe of Environmental Entrepreneurs, made a strong case that renewables, not coal, are the future of energy employment.
Even more is at stake than jobs and investments. The Energy Innovation analysis projects Trump’s executive order could cause more than 40,000 premature deaths per year by 2030 and more than 120,000 in 2050. More dirty energy means more premature deaths from particulates in the air we breath. Though the Clean Power Plan’s focus was on carbon, the report says “the same policies also reduce particulate pollution, which is responsible for thousands of heart attacks and respiratory diseases each year.”
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Photo credit: Sierra Club