Climate threatsEmission regulatory rollback: 200M metric tons of additional green house gasses annually

Published 6 March 2019

Following the release of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, the Trump administration is proposing to give four top climate-polluting industries a pass. A new report says that six specific regulatory rollbacks will cause an annual increase of more than 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, resulting in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in forgone benefits, and lead to tens of thousands of premature deaths.

The other day, the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law announced the release of a Special Report detailing the extensive climate change and public health damage caused by the Trump administration’s environmental deregulatory agenda.

In its Special Report, entitled Climate & Health Showdown in the Courts: State Attorneys General Prepare to Fight, the State Impact Center highlights how state attorneys general are leading the fight to prevent the rollback of six essential federal rules, which would lead to annual increases of more than 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions in the United States.

NYU says that the Special Report features in-depth analysis of how the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks are designed to benefit the coal, automotive, oil & gas and landfill industries, which are collectively responsible for nearly 50 percent of national greenhouse gas emissions. The six key areas examined by the Special Report include the following:

·   The Coal Industry: Clean Power Plan (CO2)

·  The Automotive Industry: Clean Car Standards (CO2)

·  The Automotive Industry: Glider Truck Pollution (CO2)

·  The Oil & Gas Industry: Methane emissions (new and existing sources)

·  The Oil & Gas Industry: Methane emissions (public lands)

·  The Landfill Industry: Methane emissions

“This Special Report unmasks the Trump administration’s plan to give a climate pollution pass to industries that represent almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,” said David J. Hayes, Executive Director for the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “State attorneys general will not let the administration get away with its brazen attempt to turn major industries’ legal obligations to reduce damaging pollution into an invitation to continue to pollute — climate effects and adverse health impacts be damned.”  

NYU says that on a rule-by-rule basis, the economic, public health and environmental impacts of these deregulatory actions are enormous. They will result in hundreds of billions of dollars in forgone benefits, while also causing millions of additional asthma attacks and tens of thousands of additional premature deaths. And, while the Trump administration attempts to justify its agenda with economic arguments rooted in cost savings to industry, those savings are miniscule in comparison to the significant costs imposed on the public.

For example, rolling back the national Clean Car Standards is estimated to cost American drivers between $193 billion and $236 billion dollars in added fuel expense by 2035, as well as $18 billion in climate and public health costs each year. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan would generate increases in air pollution that could lead to 1,630 premature deaths, 120,000 additional asthma attacks, 140,000 missed school days and 48,000 lost work days by 2030. The Special Report details how these impacts disproportionately fall on vulnerable communities, as highlighted time and again by state attorneys general.

“The rollbacks also directly contravene the Trump administration’s legal obligation to act on climate change under the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency’s own unambiguous finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare,” the NYU report says.

Finally, the Special Report carefully explains how the Trump’s administration’s deregulatory agenda fundamentally disregards the interests of states in protecting public health and the environment and threatens the cooperative federalism approach that has delivered strong environmental results for decades. “The state attorneys general challenging these misguided actions have demonstrated that progressive environmental policies can work hand in hand with economic growth, and they will continue to fight this administration’s efforts to turn back the clock and weaken bedrock environmental protections,” NYU says.