Trump officials are planning to fudge the numbers to pretend their policies won't really kill 1,400 people a year.
Using an approach described by experts as "not scientifically sound," the Trump administration will soon change the way it evaluates the harm from coal plants spewing more pollution into the air, according to a Monday New York Times report.
Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to release a new rule to measure the impact of air pollution on health risks. The rules will be favorable to dirty energy producers like the coal industry — an industry that Trump's EPA chief, Andrew Wheeler, used to lobby for.
And to allow that to happen, experts told the Times, the EPA's new rule will simply ignore decades of high-quality research and use "unfounded medical assumptions" to claim that air pollution does less harm to people than peer-reviewed scientific data indicates.
One result of the new, scientifically unsound method would be to magically decrease the 1,400 premature deaths that Trump's changes to environmental rules were previously projected to cause.
Trump's ultimate goal is to roll back improvements President Obama made that limit the pollution coal plants produce. Obama's rules would have reduced the amount of dangerous particulate matter in the air by gradually moving energy production to cleaner forms of energy and shutting down older, dirtier coal plants.
"Particulate matter is extremely harmful and it leads to a large number of premature deaths," Richard Revesz, an environmental law expert at New York University, told the Times.
Trump wants to toss out the Obama-era rules with ones that allow older coal plants to stay in business longer, and continue risking lives by spewing particulates into the air.
The person in charge of air quality at the EPA, William Wehrum, was a lawyer and lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry before joining the EPA. He admitted to the Times that the new method would allow the Trump administration to claim its other changes would cause fewer deaths.
Trump has a long record of anti-environment and anti-science positions — and so do his political appointees. Now those officials are preparing to discard sound scientific methods to pretend that their actions will be less deadly than they really are.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.