Coal, oil, gas and other big industrial polluters are poised to make billions of dollars in added profits due to the Trump Administration’s environmental and safety rollbacks, but an Associated Press analysis of government records reveals the price Americans will pay in lives lost and health.
The AP looked at 11 major rules on the Trump Administration’s chopping block and calculated the cost those regulatory rollbacks would have in terms of environmental and human health, using the administration’s own estimates.
The news agency found an alarming upswing in the number of premature deaths, air-pollution-induced illnesses, climate-warming emissions, and severe train derailments involving loads of explosive fuels. On the flip side, companies that extract, burn and transport fossil fuels would see profits rise by $11.6 billion. Much of those extra profits would come from arresting motor vehicle fuel efficiency standards that would generate nearly 80 billion gallons of additional fuel consumption.
In the simplest terms, the rollbacks represent a transfer of wealth from U.S. consumers to energy corporations in extracting and selling more fuel. But as energy profits go up, environmental and public health will suffer heavy blows.
For instance, some of the social costs the AP pulled from thousands of pages of documents include:
- Allowing coal plant emissions to increase will amount to an additional 1,400 premature deaths annually.
- Relaxing auto efficiency standards will generate an additional 1 billion tons of air pollution over the next decade, the equivalent of about 200 million additional vehicles
- More water pollution due to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”
- More offshore oil drilling and riskier operations with fewer safety checks.
According to the AP, the regulatory rollbacks “underscore the administration’s willingness to put company profits ahead of safety considerations and pollution effects.”
The AP also noted that to strengthen support for the changes, the Trump administration occasionally manipulated outcomes by exaggerating economic gains while minimizing adverse impacts.