Coal is a dirty fuel. Not only does it contain far more carbon than other energy sources, it also contains other kinds of pollutants. The non-carbon pollution effects are a crucial cause of coal’s decline. It’s why Chinese cities, so choked with pollution that you can barely breath outside, are phasing out coal. The Obama administration helped drive coal plants out of business by regulating those pollution sources more strictly.
Trump’s energy plan, unveiled last night, is to deregulate coal in hopes of staving off its demise. Trump justifies the policy on the grounds that coal miners are wonderful people, windmills kill (and are somehow killed by) birds, and climate science is a hoax. Melt the glaciers to own the liberals. But there’s an important side effect to his pro-coal policy: keeping more coal-fired plants around means keeping more of the other kinds of pollution around in addition to carbon dioxide. The New York Times peered into the internal documents written by Trump’s own Environmental Protection Agency, and it finds the additional pollution will kill a projected 1,400 Americans a year.
As the EPA delicately puts it, “Implementing the proposed rule is expected to increase emissions of carbon dioxide and the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health.” But killing 1,400 Americans a year is the price we have to pay rather than live with wind turbines that will kill a fraction of a percent of the bird population.