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HEAL UTAH REACTS WITH DISMAY TO TRUMP’S CLEAN POWER PLAN ANNOUNCEMENT
POLICY MOVE A STEP BACK ON CLIMATE, BUT UNLIKELY TO BRING BACK COAL, GROUP SAYS
HEAL Utah today reacted with dismay to President Trump’s executive order designed to roll back the Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan is the single most important step our nation has taken to combat the threat of climate change. Rescinding it, says HEAL Utah’s policy director Ashley Soltysiak, represents a worrisome step back in the fight to ward off the worst effects of climate change.
“We’re already seeing the effects of a warming planet in Utah,” said Soltysiak. “Trump’s action means even more reduced snowpack, dwindling water supplies, destructive forest fires and worsening air quality. It’s a sad day for Utah.”
While Trump’s order is a dismaying step in the wrong direction, HEAL’s Executive Director Matt Pacenza pointed out that it is likely to have little long-term effect, as the march away from dangerous coal has been underway for several decades. For example, he pointed out, the percent of power that comes from coal has dropped from over 50 percent in the early 90s to around 30 percent today.
“Bluster can’t stop progress. The public and energy markets have already endorsed the clean energy revolution,” says Pacenza. “Once again, President Trump is demonstrating how poorly he understands a complex issue.”
The Clean Power Plan was created with the help of scientists, economists, and industry experts to cement an orderly, cost-effective shift away from carbon based fuels and to address the looming crisis of climate change, HEAL says. The plan was designed so that each state could design their own flexible plan to limit the dangerous emissions of greenhouse gases from its electricity sector, while encouraging economic growth and minimizing job loss.
Interest groups from across the state of Utah, including Rocky Mountain Power, the Division of Air Quality, environmental groups and others had met and were poised to keep doing to so to develop a collaborative plan which would have been a boon to Utah.
“President Trump is using a cleaver to gut a careful proposal,” says Soltysiak. “His rash action will throw uncertainty and confusion into a marketplace which was already shifting to meet the plan’s targets.”
Despite the claims of the President and many Utah elected officials, the loss of coal jobs – which has had profound effects on the economies of several Utah counties — is largely due to mechanization and market forces, not environmental regulations. According to state data, the number of coal mining jobs in Utah has dropped from 4,296 in 1982 to 1,445 in 2013, a trend that long pre-dates the Clean Power Plan.
The real tragedy, said Pacenza, is how little interest these officials are showing in programs to actually help rural workers effected by the ongoing transition away from coal power, such as Obama’s Power+ plan, which Congress failed to fully fund.
“President Trump and his allies have to choose between pretending they can bring coal back — or getting to the hard work of actually figuring out how to help rural communities suffering from major economic shifts,” said Pacenza. “Axing the Clean Power Plan won’t lead to more coal jobs, but sadly it might raise the hopes of workers who policymakers show little interest in except for when they want to score cheap political points.”
For more information, call Matt Pacenza (available via phone) at 801-864-0264 or Ashley Soltysiak (available in person) at 616-485-8290.