The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to change how it calculates the health risks of air pollution resulting in far fewer predicted deaths from pollution, The New York Times reported Monday.
The shift will reportedly make it easier to roll back the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.
The EPA's had initially calculated that repealing and replacing the climate policy would have resulted in an additional 1,400 premature deaths per year.
The new analytical model would significantly reduce that number, making it easier for the Trump administration to defend further rollbacks, according to the Times.
Five people familiar with the plan told the Times that the new modeling method would appear in the agency’s analysis of the final version of the replacement regulation, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, expected to be rolled out in June.
The EPA disputed that a new methodology would be used in the Affordable Clean Energy rule, but acknowledged that changes to the calculation are being considered.
“To be clear, there is no new methodology related to particulate matter included in the cost-benefit analysis accompanying the final Affordable Clean Energy rule,” the agency said in a statement to The Hill.
“We are considering changes to how such benefits are calculated. No change to this scientific method will be made unless and until the new approach has been peer reviewed. EPA is constantly evaluating approaches to improve transparency and communicate uncertainty regarding costs and benefits of its regulatory actions.”
The Clean Power Plan sought to push utilities to switch away from coal and instead use natural gas or renewable energy to generate electricity, which would reduce particulate matter.
The Affordable Clean Energy rule will reportedly keep many coal plants open, increasing particulate matter that can cause health hazards.
—Updated at 8:41 p.m.