Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a death sentence for thousands of Americans with its deceitfully-named Affordable Clean Energy rule. This is gaslighting at its finest. The Trump administration is once again manipulating the public with subterfuge, claiming that their new rules rolling back regulations on the coal industry will benefit America. Nothing could be further from the truth.
By their own unashamed admission, the new rule will allow even more dirty coal particulates into our lungs, resulting in 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030. That’s 16,800 deaths over the next twelve years! This plan is only “affordable” for the fossil fuel industry, while the rest of us will bear the costs of 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, a rise in bronchitis, asthma, and heart disease. Not to mention tens of thousands of missed school days for America’s vulnerable children.
Over the past decade, I have testified in EPA hearings as they sought public feedback when considering rules and regulations about the coal industry.
In 2011 I testified regarding mercury and air toxins regulations, urging the EPA not to succumb to industry pressure to weaken the life-saving measures protecting pregnant women, unborn children, and babies from mercury pollution. In 2014 I testified at the Carbon Pollution Guidelines public hearing that Obama’s Clean Power Plan should set reduction targets for total greenhouse gas emissions for each state to avoid inadvertent increases in methane gas from the fracking industry as coal plants close down.
Those hearings and testimonies seem like a distant dream now that we’re living in this environmental nightmare visited upon our country by this administration.
America should not be made into a sacrifice zone just to prop up a dying energy sector. The future for American energy is in true clean power – solar, wind, efficiency, and new technologies that protect the health of our communities. We need to train American workers in these high-paying jobs that will sustain their families without demanding the trade-offs of sickness and death.
Protecting “the least of these”
As a person of faith and ordained minister in the Lutheran Church (ELCA), I remind Christians that according to the Bible, one of the duties of leaders is to protect those who are most vulnerable, those who have no voice, those who are least able to protect themselves. The harm that will be endured by fragile bodies for the sake of keeping the coal industry on life support is unconscionable. The new energy rule is immoral, unethical, unpatriotic, and against common sense.
I call on this country to do all we can to protect our most vulnerable citizens. This includes coal industry workers who deserve medical care, job training, respect and dignity as we transition to a clean energy economy.
Clean, renewable energy is now more affordable than coal. It creates good jobs, reduces greenhouse gases that exacerbate climate disruption, and powers our world in sustainable ways. Don’t be fooled by a lying title that hides the truth about EPA’s intention to sacrifice lives for the sake of profit.
Leah D. Schade is a professor of preaching and worship and author of the book Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015). She is an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church (ELCA).