The Environmental Protection Agency plans to release a report next month that includes revised numbers it says proves no harm will come about due to deregulation of air polluters.
However, five anonymous sources, all current or former members of the EPA, spoke to the New York Times about the dubious maths being promoted in the report. They say the new calculations are being made to hide the fact that previous findings from the EPA were more alarming.
Previous reports, for instance, demonstrated that deregulations in the fossil fuel industry (particularly on coal plants) put forward by the Trump administration could result in an increase of dangerous particulates in the atmosphere, which would have catastrophic outcomes for people breathing them in.
Trump’s coal plan will cause up to 1,400 premature deaths PER YEAR.
Instead of doing anything to save lives, his EPA plans to alter the way it calculates pollution risks to “get thousands of deaths off the books.”
YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT.https://t.co/0ntTqwzUYV
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) May 21, 2019
Among the findings of one report, the increase in particulates would mean 15,000 additional cases of upper respiratory problems, thousands of missed days of school for children affected by pollution, and an increase of 1,400 deaths per year due to pollution-related diseases.
After that report was released, the commission that published it was suddenly disbanded, according to reporting from Vice. It was replaced by a separate seven-member commission, led by a fossil-fuel friendly statistician named Tony Cox, who dubiously determined that particulates in the atmosphere do not pose a harm to humans at all.
There are “varying opinions on the adequacy of the evidence supporting the EPA’s conclusion that there is a causal relationship between [particulate matter] exposure and mortality,” Cox said earlier this year, per reporting from NPR.
Most scientists disagree with that assessment, pointing out that fossil fuel particulates breathed in by people can result in strokes, heart attacks, and respiratory diseases.
The anonymous sources speaking to the Times believe that the changes in the way the EPA calculates its figures are meant to allow the Trump administration to promote its policies and defend them against attacks that they would cause harm, and doubt that the alterations are being made in a legitimate way.