Author: Paul

COVID-19 Threatens Global Climate Action

COVID-19 Threatens Global Climate Action

Ports reveal unprecedented surge in harmful emissions; officials blame COVID-19 logjam on President Trump

March 17, 2020

(WASHINGTON) — As COVID-19 sweeps across the United States and the world, global efforts at curbing its spread have been thwarted by a series of Trump administration moves. In recent weeks, in addition to failing to implement a nationwide lockdown, the U.S. administration is blocking efforts by other nations to curb the coronavirus and even rejecting a proposal from the World Health Organization to limit the spread across the globe.

In response to the outbreak, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week proposed a “pollutant-load” limit for some harmful air pollutants called ozone in an effort to reduce particulate matter in the air. Under current U.S. law, the EPA had authority to regulate ozone (also known as smog) by setting the “zero” emissions standard for ozone in the 1970 Clean Air Act, which is currently 13.1 p.p.m. The EPA’s new proposal would allow states to adopt even higher standards, up to 49.5 p.p.m., which EPA called “a high-emissions standard for ozone.” The proposal is open for public comment until June 24.

Also last week, the U.S. Department of Health (DOH) issued a final rule revoking federal approval of the “greenhouse gases” rule, which was enacted by previous administrations to reduce harmful concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in air. The final rule also bars the agency from considering proposals for other greenhouse gases, such as carbon monoxide, which have been found to have no significant impact on the global climate and could not be targeted under the existing law.

In response, the Trump administration is blocking the use of the EPA’s proposed clean-air rule to limit emissions from some coal-fired power plants and from some vehicles. The EPA said in a statement that the Clean Power Plan, which would have required certain coal plants to limit pollutants from their smoke stacks, will not be “considered a major source of U.S. air pollution for regulatory reasons.” The agency also said that the Clean Air Interstate Rule, an interstate pollution rule developed in 2012 and finalized in 2019, will not be considered because the rule “could have unintended consequences and would impose too much cost and too

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