Going backwards

We nostalgically remember the days — about two years ago — when the Environmental Protection Agency worked diligently to protect our environment for the benefit of our long-term health.

But while most of us were absorbed this past week with trials and plea deals for those closely connected to President Trump, the EPA was announcing the Affordable Clean Energy rule to overhaul the pollution restrictions on coal-burning power plants.

The Trump administration says the new rules will create new jobs and eliminate burdensome regulations, but EPA research reveals the new rules could lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030, up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, a rise in bronchitis and tens of thousands of missed school days.

“Short-term morbidity endpoints mean EPA expects more people to die prematurely from breathing sulfur dioxide,” said the Adirondack Council’s Executive Director Willie Janeway in a written statement. “That’s a pretty casual way to talk about letting people die from preventable diseases.”

The Clean Power Plan put into place during President Obama’s tenure was expected to prevent 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths by 2030 and reduce the number of school days missed by 180,000.

Simply put, the EPA enacted rules this week to lower the standards for our air and make our health worse, and that comes on the heels of another plan to allow cars to emit more pollution in the years to come.

You’d almost think someone from the coal industry was in charge.

Actually, the EPA’s acting director, Andrew Wheeler, is a former coal lobbyist who previously spent years as a senior aide in the Senate working to defeat climate-related legislation.

Why you should care — other than the luxury of breathing clean air — is because coal-burning power plants have long been the cause of acid rain in the Adirondacks.

The Clean Power Plan would have required 32 percent cuts in carbon dioxide from power plants by 2030. The plan enacted this past week contains a 1.5 percent cut in pollutants.

The Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization, condemned the new rule for its failure to protect the Adirondacks from climate change while hindering its recovery from decades of acid rain.

If you thought the acid rain problem in the Adirondacks had been rectified, think again.

According to the Adirondack Council, pollution cuts since 1995 have helped some Adirondack lakes and ponds to recover, but others will take centuries to regain their health at current emission rates.

It was encouraging to see Rep. Elise Stefanik say she opposes the new rules because of the damage they might do in the Adirondacks, but we are not confident in the fix she proposes.

The Post Star