March 26, 2018
(Gillette, Wyo.) In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final version of the Clean Power Plan (Plan), a program to reduce harmful emissions and carbon pollution from power plants. Just about a year ago, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the EPA to review the program. Shortly thereafter, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a proposal to repeal the plan. EPA is now accepting public comment on whether it should move forward with the repeal, and is holding a listening session in Gillette on March 27th to hear from the public. Powder River Basin Resource Council members will join other concerned citizens in Gillette to oppose the Plan’s repeal, because it places marginal corporate profits over public health and long-term prosperity.
“Repealing the Clean Power Plan will not stop the momentum behind clean energy. Most states have already achieved the Clean Power Plan’s carbon-pollution-reduction goals as utility customers around the country are demanding clean power for economic and environmental reasons,” said Christy Gerrits, a Powder River board member and recently retired science teacher in Gillette. “EPA’s action won’t stop the momentum behind clean energy. Utilities will keep building and using clean power, as wind and solar resources are not just the energy of the future, but are the energy choices of today.”
While the coal market has been in decline for years, now accounting for only about 30% of the nation’s electricity production, the renewable energy economy is competitive and growing quickly. According to recent data published by USA Today, employment in the nation’s solar industry has grown by 20% annually in recent years. There are now approximately 260,000 U.S. solar workers, five times the number of coal mine workers.
“The Trump Administration’s efforts to champion coal haven’t been successful in bringing coal back, and cutting the Clean Power Plan won’t save coal jobs and communities,” said Powder River board member Gillian Malone. “Market forces are responsible for these declines, and we need to start focusing on the economic opportunities renewable energy is already creating for Wyoming by developing the technology and skills we need to participate in this new energy market.”
“In the meantime, Powder River has also been pushing for transitioning coal mining jobs into reclamation jobs. If we accept the inevitable direction our nation is moving, we could have a win-win in Wyoming,” added Malone.
“The Clean Power Plan is good on multiple levels: clean energy jobs leading to economic growth, the health benefits from improved air quality, and ultimately, the health of the planet. What it’s not good for are polluters who don’t want to operate responsibly, and who don’t want to pay for the public health impacts of their industries,” said Gerrits.