Trump's 'Dirty Power Plan' Could Cost More Than 1,000 Lives a Year
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled on Tuesday its long-anticipated replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The new coal pollution rules will increase planet-warming carbon pollution and could cost more than a thousand American lives each year, according to the EPA's own estimates.
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler released the "Affordable Clean Energy Rule" today under President Trump's directive. The new plan encourages efficiency improvements at existing coal plants to ensure they operate longer and allows states to weaken, or even eliminate, coal emissions standards. That's a clear difference from former President Obama's plan, which was aimed at phasing out coal and transitioning to cleaner power sources to avoid dangerous climate change.
"We're ending intrusive EPA regulations that kill jobs," Trump said in a White House statement.
Wheeler said in a press release, "Today's proposal provides the states and regulated community the certainty they need to continue environmental progress while fulfilling President Trump's goal of energy dominance."
But in a damning report from The New York Times, the proposal's own fine print states, "implementing the proposed rule is expected to increase emissions of carbon dioxide and the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health."
The proposal even has a section called "foregone" climate and human health benefits, according to the Times, and projects 470 and 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 due to increased rates of PM 2.5, which are microscopic toxins from power plants, automobiles and other sources that can cause lung and heart disease.
In contrast, as the Times pointed out, the Clean Power Plan was squarely designed at protecting the climate and human health. In 2015, the Obama EPA estimated that their plan could avoid between 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths annually by 2030.
"This proposal would eliminate almost all the life-saving climate and health benefits that the Clean Power Plan provides. The Trump-Wheeler plan will mean millions of tons more air pollution endangering our kids' health, lives and future," said Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp in a statement.
Environmentalists also said the Affordable Clean Energy Rule will not survive in court.
"Trump is doubling down on our dirtiest power sources and it's going to send polar bears, ice seals and other wildlife over the edge of extinction. But like most of his environmental rollbacks, this proposal mangles the facts, the law and the science, and won't survive in court," said Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement.
Similarly, Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, dubbed the proposal as the "Dirty Power Plan" and said the organization will fight the proposal "with every tool available."
"What America needs instead is an even stronger Clean Power Plan, one that will further accelerate the nation's shift to clean energy—that's how to truly protect public health, our children and future generations," she added.
The new measure, which President Trump will likely tout today at his rally in West Virginia, will be subject to a 60-day comment period.
Environmental Groups Sue #EPA Over Rule Change That Could Quadruple Toxic Emissions https://t.co/fmaIFXbVlI… https://t.co/ZXL7DcTROR— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1522241523.0
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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