Willson: Repealing ‘Clean Power Plan’ harms economy, environment, and you

Lauren Willson

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, announced recently announced the Trump Administration’s plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

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The CPP, an Obama era-rule announced in 2015 (but never passed), is a set of carbon-emissions guidelines for power plants. The sole reasoning behind this plan was combatting climate change. But Pruitt and other fiscal conservatives see it as an attack on the fossil-fuel industry. Pruitt justified the repeal by asserting it will end the “war against coal” and preserve the jobs of those in the industry.

But repealing the Clean Power Plan will have irreversible negative effects on the health of the environment, the economy, and the public.

Nearly 200 scientific organizations recognize the issue of human-made climate change, including Pruitt’s own, the Environmental Protection Agency.

Climate change is scientifically proven, and we have already seen its destructive effects. Recent hurricanes in southern states and the Caribbean exhibited unprecedented levels of destruction due to  changes to sea water levels and water temperatures . Climate change did not cause the hurricanes per se, but, it exacerbated them in a dramatic way.

Curbing the production of greenhouse gases (GHG) is essential for the security of our own and of future generations. The CPP is designed to do this by reducing GHG emissions and enforcing a shift toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy, like wind and solar.

Many states have already taken a proactive approach and set limits on emissions, Colorado included.

But our nation as a whole needs legislation like this to make sure all states are working together to halt harmful trends. Otherwise, states with a heavy dependence on fossil fuels may fail to meet emissions standards and increase the severity of climate change.

It is unfortunate and ironic that Pruitt is so concerned with protecting the fossil fuel industry, as doing so will not help our economy in the long run.

Although it is difficult to definitively predict consumption and production rates, there is no question that fossil fuels are finite resources. One day they will be gone, no matter how advanced our extraction technology becomes.

Known reserves of oil and natural gas will be depleted within about 50 years, and coal in 115 , based on estimates made using  BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

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In the meantime, we need to focus on building infrastructure for renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and hydro power.

Jobs in renewable energy are more labor-intensive than their counterparts in the fossil fuel industry, which is more mechanized and industrialized. Labor-intensiveness means production of more jobs, so those who currently work in coal or oil production need not worry about employment even as fossil fuels are phased out.

Furthermore, building up renewable energy makes the U.S. more attractive to investors. If Pruitt was really interested in the well-being of our economy and jobs, he should disregard coal and look to the future of clean energy sources.

Lastly, the repeal of the CPP will severely harm the public’s health and wellbeing. By halting the effort to reduce power plant carbon emissions, vulnerable populations, such as impoverished persons or those with heart or lung disease, will be at increased risk of exposure to harmful air pollution.

Without efforts like the CPP, the public as a whole will be unable to avoid the effects of climate change, from superstorm hurricanes, to increased food prices, to higher insurance premiums.

We needed the Clean Power Plan to solidify the national effort in combatting climate change. Trump already pulled us out of the UN Paris Agreement. This repeal is only a further step in dismantling the ecological protection efforts of previous administrations.

While a lack of federal support for the environment is disconcerting, it does not mean all hope is lost. We still live in a representative democracy, and there are numerous ways to protest this irresponsible repeal.

Contact your local representatives and demand action, Fort Collins’ representative is Jared Polis . Join an environmental interest group, such as Defend Our Future , which also has an on-campus chapter at Colorado State University. Strive to practice habits of environmental sustainability, such as recycling, reducing energy consumption, and going meatless .

Coal will eventually run out, and so will Trump’s time in office. Until the next election cycle, it’s up to us to make sure Mother Earth maintains her vitality. The vitality that gives us our own.

Lauren Willson can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @LaurenKealani