Trump administration gets creative with math to make air pollution appear less deadly

The Trump administration is cooking the books. According to the New York Times, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to change the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution—a mathematical trick to make its rollbacks of emissions rules appear less dangerous. Specifically, the new modeling would reduce the number of projected deaths (a somber 1,400 per year) from the proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule (Trump’s deceptively named replacement for the Clean Power Plan). Particulate matter can cause heart attacks, asthma, and lung dysfunction, and the EPA’s new plan would allow coal-burning power plants to emit more of it. The change is a “monumental departure” from the science-based methods used by past EPA administrations under both political parties. If that weren’t despicable enough, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler just released a memo on “rectifying inconsistencies” with how the agency conducts cost-benefit analyses—a move that would likely put greater emphasis on the costs to industry rather than the health costs of Americans. 

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