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Friday, 14 December 2018
 

How to Buy a Gun in 15 Countries

(Agencies) The Clean Power Plan was aimed mainly at reducing carbon dioxide, the principal global warming gas, from coal-fired power plants. But like the mercury rule, it would also, as a collateral benefit, have reduced other dangerous pollutants like smog and soot. In so doing, the Obama administration calculated, it would prevent 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths per year by 2030 and would provide other beneficial health effects. By contrast, as Lisa Friedman of The Times discovered, the Trump administration’s laughably weak replacement plan would cause (by the Trump E.P.A.’s own calculations) as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030, as well as 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory disease and billions of dollars in new health care costs, mainly from an increase in fine particulate matter linked to heart and lung disease.
At the time, Mr. Wheeler’s lieutenants told everyone not to worry, that the agency had other rules to control these and other life-threatening pollutants. Among the optimists was William Wehrum, the agency’s chief air pollution officer, who is glad to have another chance to undermine the nation’s clean air laws after failing to do so during his previous stint in the George W. Bush administration. “We have abundant legal authority to deal with those other pollutants directly,” he declared.
As it happens, however, these other legal authorities are also at risk. As The Times’s Eric Lipton reported, the Trump replacement plan would also have greatly weakened another E.P.A. program known as the New Source Review, a plan that has had an enormously beneficial effect on air quality in this country and whose demise would allow many of the nation’s dirtiest power plants to keep running without installing new pollution controls.
What we are dealing with here, in other words, is a bit of a shell game — hard to follow, costly to the public, satisfying to those who are running it. We are also dealing with people who won’t let inconvenient forecasts about death and disease deter them from their appointed goal of satisfying Mr. Trump’s pro-coal agenda, and who also seem eager to keep such forecasts hidden. Late last month we learned that the E.P.A. planned to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor, the latest of several steps beginning under Mr. Pruitt to diminish the role of scientific research in policymaking.
Nobody really expected a new policy direction from Mr. Wheeler, who was once consigliere to Senator James Inhofe, Congress’s most outspoken climate change denier. But in Mr. Wheeler’s insistence on a narrow, even cramped, reading of the nation’s landmark environmental laws, he is ignoring science and threatening the public health and welfare