New proposed regulations released this week by EPA that limit CO2 from new coal fired power plants are being attacked by the coal industry and their political supporters as a “War On Coal.” Yet the coal industry:
- Ignores thirty years of science which according to every Academy of Science in the World, over 100 scientific organizations whose members have expertise relative to climate change science, and over 97 percent of scientists that do peer-reviewed science relevant to climate change have concluded that coal combustion and other human activities which release greenhouse gases are already changing the climate and gravely threatening hundreds of millions of poor people around the world and the ecological systems on which their life depends.
- Has participated in a disinformation campaign about climate change science that that is most likely responsible for over a 25 year delay in US action on climate change.
- By delaying US policies to reduce the threat of climate change, is responsible for increases in atmospheric ghg concentrations that have now reached 400 ppm CO2, a level which now makes it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the world to prevent global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees C, an amount of warming which is likely to trigger rapid non-linear climate change.
- Has prevented action on climate change in the United States without consideration of the US obligations to those people and places most vulnerable to climate change.
- Continues to make arguments against policies to reduce the threat of climate change based upon adverse economic impact to the coal industry while ignoring the harsh economic impacts from climate change to many people and places which are already being harmed by climate change and are at very great risk in the future,
For this reason, the coal industry’s charge that US EPA regulations regulating CO2 emissions are a “War On Coal” are like a mugger who opposes laws on assault and battery by saying that such laws are a war on mugging.
Donald A. Brown
Scholar In Residence, Sustainability Ethics and Law, Professor, Widener University School of Law,
Visiting Professor, Nogoya University, Nogoya Japan