The Trump administration proposed to ax an Obama-era carbon emission regulatory rule from power plants at Charleston, West Virginia — but coal miners have something to say about that.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan (CPP), former President Barack Obama’s key strategy on climate change, which strived to reduce carbon emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule was meant to give teeth to the U.S. pledge to the 2015 Paris climate accord. However, it never came into effect. Republican state attorneys, including EPA Chief Scott Pruitt who was then attorney general of Oklahoma, sued the agency, claiming it was overreaching.
As a result, Clean Power Plan never got implemented. Still, it did not stop Pruitt from trying to dismantle the regulations all together and it did not stop coal supporters from blaming the woes of the coal industry on the regulation.
The EPA hosted the two-day hearing to dismantle CPP, implementing which, President Donald Trump believes, would be a devastating blow to the coal industry.
However, people from the mining industry are suffering worse.
Stanley Sturgill, a 72-year-old retired coal miner from Kentucky, attended the hearing and urged the EPA to “stop listening to the corrupting power” of the coal industry.
Sturgill has been diagnosed with black lung and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a legacy of his days working underground.
“Just how many people must pay the supreme price of death for a few rich, greedy people to bank a few dollars?” Sturgill said. “We may be old, but we still love living.”
“Do I really think that this administration cares what this old, worn-out coal miner has to say? Well, I don’t know. I really doubt it. But I had to be here,” Sturgill added, “as long as I can draw breath.”
“We’re still dying — we’re still literally dying — for you to help us,” he ended.
However, it seems his words fell on deaf ears.
Michael Chirico, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV), called for laws that would ban government regulators from considering carbon emissions’ long-term costs without the approval of the White House budget office.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also backed him saying the CPP “never again sees the light of day.”
The EPA also estimated cost of carbon related to human health, property damage, agriculture and economy to be between $11 and $105 per ton of carbon dioxide pollution. However, according to a Purdue University study, the real cost would be 129 times higher than the agency predicted.
In 2015, the Obama administration also estimated the climate and health benefits of the Clean Power Plan would total $34 billion to $54 billion. However, Pruitt manipulated the calculations and argued rescinding the plan would save the United States $33 billion in “avoided costs” by 2030.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has accused Pruitt of hiding the benefits of the plan by “cooking the books.”
The CPP has taken into account the potential job losses and designated billions for job training, grants and apprenticeship for the fossil fuel communities. Despite this, it has done little to reassure wealthy coal moguls and shareholders.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: REUTERS, Kara Van Pelt