The Trump Administration yesterday proposed to replace one of the signature domestic climate change achievements of the Obama Administration — the Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from coal plants — with the “Affordable Clean Energy” or ACE Rule — that essentially gives coal power plants more time and flexibility to cut toxic air emissions, which experts say could give those plants authority to increase their emissions in the short run.  President Trump stated falsely on Tuesday night at his election campaign kickoff that the U.S. has “crystal clean” air, but an analysis of the EPA’s own data put out yesterday morning by the Associated Press told a different story — that in fact, the U.S. air quality has declined over the last two years after it had improved each year for several decades.

Why This Matters:  U.S. air quality is not crystal clear as the President continues to maintain — in fact, in many parts of the country, it is downright awful.  As we reported, the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” Report that came out in April found that more than 40% of Americans — 141 million — live in a county with unhealthy air, which represents an increase of 7 million people more than last year.  All this pollution is really bad for us.  A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that in 2011, the finest scale particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5)  caused 107,000 premature deaths in the U.S. and cost the economy nearly $900 million dollars. That study followed closely on the heels of the State of Global Air Report, which that air pollution today is going to cause on average a loss of nearly two years of life span for infants.  And this does not account for the impact all this pollution is having on the climate crisis.  We simply cannot afford to backslide now, when there is just beginning to be momentum from renewable energy to begin to retire dirty coal plants.

Fact Versus Trump Fiction.  

  • The AP analysis is consistent with the American Lung Association’s report that despite some progress, “in 2015-2017, more cities had high days of ozone and short-term particle pollution compared to 2014-2016 and many cities measured increased levels of year-round particle pollution.”
  • According to the AP, “There were 15% more days with unhealthy air in America both last year and the year before than there were on average from 2013 through 2016, the four years when America had its fewest number of those days since at least 1980.”
  • The AP also found that “Five hundred and thirty-two American metro areas reported a total of 4,134 days in 2018 when the official air quality index passed 100, which means it is unhealthy for people with heart and lung disease, the elderly and the very young.”
  • On average, the AP stated, that in 2017 and 2018 there were nearly 140 times when a city’s air pollution reached the worst two categories — “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” — with the air quality index greater than 200 which was more than two-and-a-half times worse than during the period right before from 2013 to 2016.

To Go Deeper:  Check out how your city ranks for its air quality by clicking here.

What You Can Do:  Well the obvious answer is to vote for candidates who support clean air in every election, but especially in the 2020 Presidential election.  In the meantime, to fight for cleaner air, you can join or support the Moms Clean Air Force by clicking here.

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