Editorial Yet another civil war is in the air
In President Donald Trump’s defense, erasing the Obama Administration’s strict emissions standards for coal-powered electric plants embraces the concept of putting authority in the hands of individual states.
That approach is appropriate on some issues. The environment is not one of them. It’s akin to letting a smoker decide if they will light up in front of a non-smoker. Selfish urges have a habit of cutting the line ahead of compassion.
The air we breathe scoffs at boundaries. So, while Connecticut could remain proper stewards of appropriate standards, nothing would stop Midwestern states with strong coal-industry lobbyists from sending smog our way.
“President Trump continues to cave to the will of polluters ... Trump’s own EPA estimates that as many as 1,400 people per year will die prematurely because of the increased pollution caused by this backwards rule, and as a downwind state Connecticut will be disproportionately affected,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy countered.
It’s predictable outrage from the governor over the president’s policies and will surely land with all the power of a snowball in an August heat wave.
Trump’s reasoning has been that “intrusive” Environmental Protection Agency regulations “kill jobs.”
Our reasoning is that a lack of them kills people.
President Barack Obama’s vision was to reduce emissions by one-third and replace coal with cleaner energy solutions by 2030. New England has remained on a steady path to that goal. The closure of Connecticut’s last coal-fired power-generating plant along Bridgeport Harbor should be recognized as a sign of progress.
Trump’s team is squarely on the side of (in his words) “beautiful, clean coal,” starting with former industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, who now holds the title of EPA administrator.
The Trump Administration is also trying to pump the brakes on Obama’s efforts to boost fuel efficiency and reduce global warming emissions from our cars and trucks. If the air feels just a little warmer, a little thicker, in these final days of August, just remember that our vehicles are helping to overheat the planet.
Leah Lopez-Schmalz, chief program officer for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, echoed Malloy’s anger, accusing Trump’s emissions plan of potentially leading to premature deaths, thousands of additional asthma attacks and lost school days.
The policies are a threat to America’s most vulnerable citizens, its children and its seniors, as exposure to air pollution contributes to health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
The United States can’t prevent fumes from crossing our borders — even a wall couldn’t do that — but we can sustain practical policies to contribute to a healthier planet.
With coal states decrying the Obama regulations as overreach, our 50 states can never be expected to clear the air. There’s too much money involved.
We all tend to take our air for granted, but this would be the right time to take a deep breath and raise those voices — if you can do so without cough ing.