Trump coal plan could lead to 1 pollution-related death for every 2 jobs: study
A new study released Thursday projects that a Trump administration proposal for propping up struggling coal and nuclear plants could lead to premature deaths from pollution.
Resources for the Future found that for every 2 to 4.5 coal mining jobs the plan protects, there would be 1 human death due to emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides over the next two years.
The group behind the study describes itself as an “independent, nonprofit research institution.”
The research is in response to the Trump administration discussing a plan for the Department of Energy (DOE) to take steps to prevent the closure of aging coal and nuclear plants in the U.S. in the next two years.
The plan, outlined in a memo first obtained by Bloomberg News in June, would see the administration use a Cold War era law to prop up the aging industries.
“Impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation’s energy mix and impacting the resilience of our power grid,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg in June.
She added that President Trump directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry “to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations.”
Both coal and nuclear plants are considered “fuel-secure” due to the fact that they keep resources on site and don’t rely on pipelines or grids that could be vulnerable to attack or weather events.
The study found that the policy would help coal miners by supporting 790 coal mine jobs each year.
However, it raised concerns about the effects on the environment of keeping the plants open. The study estimated that delaying the closure of struggling coal plants would cause an estimated 353 to 815 additional premature deaths in the United States in 2019-2020 due to emissions
It also said the plants would increase carbon dioxide emissions by 22 million short tons over the two-year period.