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Advocates warn new coal power plant rules could increase Delaware health costs, premature deaths

Delaware Public Media

Health advocates warn a Trump administration plan allowing states to decide on their own how much coal pollution to cut could cost Delaware money and lives.

The Affordable Clean Energy rule would replace the Obama administration’s plan for reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants. The Clean Power Plan never took effect because of legal challenges by more than two dozen states.

Paul Billings, with the American Lung Association, said the Environmental Protection Agency’s own analysis shows the Trump administration’s plan could lead to 1,400 more deaths a year nationwide by 2030.

“There’s a real practical implication for this," he said. "This will mean more air pollution will result in more adverse health consequences, which will mean greater health care expenses for people that are burdened with pollution caused by these power plants.”

Billings said air particles from these coal plants outside Delaware can cause asthma attacks, heart disease and lung cancer in Delawareans.

He said he doubts those plants will better control their pollution under this proposal.

“So, their past behavior indicates that these plants will continue to operate and they’re not going to reduce the pollution that comes from their smokestacks and continue to burden people that live down wind like the citizens of Delaware,” he said.

The EPA estimated Obama’s Clean Power Plan would cut carbon emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It projects the proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule will cut emissions by up to 1.5 percent by 2030.

Gov. John Carney said in a statement that unchecked air pollution presents health risks for all Delawareans.

"This proposed replacement of the Clean Power Plan will make our efforts to reduce carbon pollution more difficult, and will remove a strong incentive for state and federal governments to work together to clean up our air," he said.

Sen. Tom Carper also blasted the proposal saying it's "another step by this administration to dismantle our nation’s environmental protections and protect polluters over the public." 

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