EPA rollbacks are bad for our planet

Miami Herald Editorial Board

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Gov. Rick Scott met in May to discuss Florida’s environment and economy.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Gov. Rick Scott met in May to discuss Florida’s environment and economy. AP

The Trump administration on Tuesday doubled down on a dangerous agenda that seeks to reverse decades of painful progress on cleaning up the air we breathe and limiting damage to the environment.

The rollback of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) represents one of the biggest policy errors of this still-young administration — which is saying a lot, considering the record.

The action holds out the false promise that the government can save a dying industry by defying common-sense rules to curb harmful emissions from coal-fired plants. That’s like trying to stop the sun from shining or the tide from rolling in.

Major states, like New York and California — along with responsible, forward-looking utilities like FPL — are already moving ahead of clean-air targets set by the CPP. They are acutely aware of the damage caused by coal-fired plants.

They also know that continued reliance on coal is incompatible with a growth strategy, either for a state or a utility company. Or a nation.

Nevertheless, the rollback spearheaded by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, designed to curry political favor with the coal industry and coal-mining regions of the country, is a move in the wrong direction.

It sends the wrong signal to the slow-learners in the industrial sector and will almost surely reduce momentum to meet the goals set by international pacts to diminish climate change.

Just as bad, it may blunt efforts across the board to promote renewable energy both in the private sector and by state and local governments.

Don’t be confused by Pruitt’s hyped-up rhetoric about a “war on coal.” There is no such thing.

The CPP is nothing more than a modest effort by the Obama administration, announced in August, 2015, to set the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants, the largest source of pollution in the country.

It was a logical outgrowth of the decades-old Clean Air Act that obligates the government to protect the public from the harmful effects of environmental deterioration.

Ironically, the repeal is being announced at a time when the impact of climate change is too powerful to deny — in hurricanes of unprecedented frequency and power, in increasing droughts, in expanded wildfires.

The rollback is part of Pruitt’s mission to reverse whatever progress the EPA has made on protecting the environment. He made a career out of suing the agency when he was attorney general of Oklahoma.

Now that he’s been handed the reins by Trump, he has given the green light to environmentally harmful mining procedures, reduced clean water protections, and otherwise sought to curry favor with polluting industries.

The anti-environmental strategy won’t succeed in the long run.

Too much effort has gone into developing renewable energy sources and too much of the public is aware that climate change is hurting our world.

Among the local governments giving active support to legal efforts to protect the CPP are those of from Miami, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Pinecrest and Cutler Bay.

Maybe they know something that Trump and his EPA administrator apparently don’t: Sticking your head in the sand and denying climate change is not a winning strategy.

Not for our cities, not for our country, certainly not for our planet.