Sustainability Column: On the Clean Power Plan

Delaney Pals, Maroon-News Staff

Back in March, President Donald Trump called for a review of the Clean Power Plan that was instituted by the Obama administration, stating that the plan unfairly pressured coal companies. Trump is now proposing to repeal the Clean Power Plan entirely, which will have major implications for America’s future.

 First off, if you don’t know what the Clean Power Plan is, the EPA states that, “The Clean Power Plan established emission guidelines for states to follow in limiting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants.” So, essentially, each state would have emission guidelines to meet and in order to meet them would have to cut back on use of coal or create new renewable energy facilities (think solar, hydro, wind). The goal would be to cut 32 percent of 2005 levels of CO2 emissions by 2030. This was one of the most aggressive climate change actions ever presented, but now Trump hopes to repeal it before it is fully in place.

 Now, this is not shocking. Trump has been trying to get rid of any environmental standards that harm oil/coal industries since he came into office. For example, halting mining studies, disbanding climate advisory panels, revoking flood standards that included predicted rising sea levels in measurements, canceling a rule to protect whales from fishing nets and placing Scott Pruitt, a known climate denier, as the head of our EPA just to name a few. By backing out of this plan and not proposing any other substitutes, he is solidifying the United States as a last place player in the movement to combat climate change.

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was an

extremely progressive action to show the United States’ true commitment to limiting CO2 emissions. It set clear goals that were achievable for each state and was a great way for states to start thinking about their energy sources. But, the Trump administration argued that the plan unfairly placed too much pressure on the coal industry. We need to diversify our energy sources and shift to cleaner ways of getting the energy we need.

 Now, Trump could have suggested that we amend the CPP and adjust CO2 reduction requirements so that there would be less “pressure” on the coal industry initially, but either way the coal industry is going to feel the pressure in the near future. Aside from the undeniable environmental impact of coal, it has serious public health risks: The New York Times states that “coal plants release a stew of pollutants, including mercury and particulate matter. These bits of coal cause asthma, strokes, lung damage and heart attacks.” So, not only is the coal industry detrimental to the

environment, it is also harmful to human health.

 It is extremely pertinent that we all vote in local elections and contact our state representatives to help show our continued support for the United States’ pursuit of clean energy.

Contact Delaney Pals at [email protected].