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EPA’s new task force considers deregulating polluting facilities

Actually, this is just another way for the EPA to say they are reviewing the Obama-era Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to see if they can find any way the rules may have affected energy industry job losses.

The announcement is one of the four measures proposed by the EPA to help carry out President Trump’s executive order issued in March. Trump’s memorandum mandated his cabinet chiefs to find ways to “reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens” on business.

To that end, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke each announced separate lists of measures they sent to Trump in carrying out his order. “We are working to curb unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens that do not serve the American people,” Pruitt said in a statement.

Photo by Dave Cooper  Oct 22 2000  Wolf Creek - the Martin County Coal Slurry Spill.

Photo by Dave Cooper, Oct 22 2000, Wolf Creek – the Martin County Coal Slurry Spill.
Dave Cooper

EPA’s concern over coal industry
Perhaps the most notable of the EPA’s four initiatives is the creation of a new task force, called the New Source Review (NSR), to review the permitting process for new sources of air pollution under the Clean Air Act, according to The Hill.

“The potential costs, complexity, and delays that may arise from the NSR permitting process can slow the construction of domestic energy exploration, production, or transmission facilities that must undergo review,” the EPA wrote in a 15-page report on its regulations.

“In some circumstances, the NSR process discourages the construction of new facilities or modifications of existing ones that could result in greater environmental improvements. Such reactions to the NSR process slows the growth of domestic energy resources and raise energy.”

The 2015 Paris Agreement was the first pact to commit all nations to limiting global warming caused ...

The 2015 Paris Agreement was the first pact to commit all nations to limiting global warming caused by emissions from burning coal, oil and gas

To say the least, the language in the statement about the slowing “growth of domestic energy resources and raising energy prices” can only refer to fossil-fuel power plants, and this isn’t lost to environmentalists and the renewable resources industry.

Currently, the EPA has three types of permits for newly-built or modified facilities. The permits set site-specific pollution requirements, depending on the type of facility, and this permitting process is lengthy, time-consuming and costly to many in the industry.

More specifically, the EPA will look into how existing regulations have affected the loss of jobs in the coal sector, despite the fact a federal court has already ruled the EPA did not need to conduct such an assessment. And trying to put the blame on environmental regulations causing a decline in coal jobs is a far stretch, especially after the Department of Energy has already figured out the culprit was natural gas.

US President Donald Trump  who declared an end to the

US President Donald Trump, who declared an end to the “war on coal”, has said he will make a decision on the Paris agreement on limiting global warming after he returns to Washington

Environmental groups are also fearful any revisions of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts would put U.S. natural resources in the hands of polluters. However, as most Americans know, this is all part of the new administration’s effort to make the country energy independent, regardless of the cost.

“The Trump Administration is intent on putting oil, gas and coal companies in charge of when, where and how they exploit taxpayer-owned resources,” said Kate Kelly, public lands director for the liberal Center for American Progress.

Changing the national ambient air quality standards
Scott Pruitt also wants to review the nation’s current air quality standards and establish a “smart sectors” program to engage with industries as it crafts its new regulations. The agency says this will speed up its approval process for state plans aimed at reducing pollutants governed by the agency’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards

Air pollution remains the leading cause of premature death in Europe

Air pollution remains the leading cause of premature death in Europe
Thomas SAMSON, AFP/File

How much does the EPA really care about the detrimental effects of air and water pollution and the health of the American public? The EPA is very matter-of-fact in its response to why it wants to repeal the Clean Power Plan, saying that by proposing to repeal the Clean Power Plan, EPA knows it “would no longer reduce emissions of certain precursor pollutants (e.g., SO2, NOx, and directly emitted particles), which in turn would no longer lower ambient concentrations of PM2.5 and ozone.”

It took the EPA another 189 pages this month to explain that it didn’t even bother analyzing the foregone “health effects from reductions in directly emitted PM2.5, direct exposure to NOx, SO2, and hazardous air pollutants; ecosystem effects; or visibility impairment.”

The bottom line on the EPA’s ridiculous demands for getting rid of Clean Air, Clean Water, and Clean Power Acts? The whole initiative, pushed by an administration that wants to bring back dirty air, dirty water, and dirty energy sources, is a slap in the face to all of us.

Impacting human health: Vehicle exhaust in our large cities contributes to rising  ozone levels.

Impacting human health: Vehicle exhaust in our large cities contributes to rising ozone levels.
Utah DOT

According to the World Health Organization, two billion children live in areas of the world where outdoor air pollution exceeds international limits. In addition, it’s estimated that 300 million children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds six times international limits.

Without a doubt, here in the United States, we, like our northern neighbor, Canada, have strong air pollution laws that protect children growing up today. Unlike many of us older folks, our grandchildren breathe cleaner air than what we had to breathe years ago. Cutting back on regulations put in place to protect us and the environment is backsliding.

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Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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