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  • President Trump’s plan to roll-back Obama clean air regs and promote coal-fired power plants will affect the health of thousands with chronic illnesses, especially children. (Photo: Getty)

    Donald Trump’s roll-back of Obama-era regulations to foster the use of coal will do little to benefit coal miners or the nation at large, except to cause more deaths and disability, according to research into the health effects from pollution associated with coal-fired power plants.

    The American Lung Association (ALA) found that “particle pollution from power plants is estimated to kill approximately 13,000 people a year.”

    Coal plant air pollution can cause hearth attacks, strokes, lung cancer, birth defects and premature death, the report states.

    Coal-Fired Power
    Fouling the Air
    Hazardous pollutants from coal power plants:
    • Acid gases: hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride;
    • Benzene, toluene related compounds;
    • Dioxins and furans;
    • Formaldehyde;
    • Lead, arsenic, and other metals;
    • Mercury;
    • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH);
    • Radioactive radium and uranium.2

    source: American Lung Assoc.

    “Coal-fired power plants that sell electricity to the grid produce more hazardous air pollution in the U.S. than any other industrial pollution sources,” according to the study, titled “Toxic Air: The Case For Cleaning Up Coal-Fired Power Plants.”

    The study got widespread publicity when it was released in 2011 and helped spur the Obama administration to tighten regulations on pollution from coal-fired plants.

    More than 386,000 tons of pollutants are emitted annually into the air from the estimated 400 coal-fired power plants. The toxic emissions can be measured throughout the United States, according to the study.

    Coal-fired plants emit acid gases, which blanket the local area; more than three-quarters of the U.S. acid gas emissions come from coal-fired power plants.

    Heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic can travel beyond state lines. Fine particulate matter can be swept worldwide.

    In a separate study, Physicians for Social Responsibility found a direct link between coal-fired pollution and “the development or progression of a chronic illnesses such as asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema.”

    Children are especially vulnerable, the group noted. Air pollutants have clinically and statistically significant adverse effects on lung development in children.

    In all, coal-generated pollution cost the nation $500 billion per year to deal with health-related issues, according the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

    Some coal plants are employing technologies, largely due to federal regulations, that scrub acid gases from plant smokestacks and limit the release of mercury, which can be absorbed by fish and wildlife. Mercury poisoning has been found to cause brain damage and birth defects.

    Trump’s executive order, signed yesterday, rolls back Obama policies, known as the Clean Power Plan. They are designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions and shift power production to green sources, according to news reports.

    Trump claimed his order will spark an “energy revolution” that would put coal miners across the country back to work. But even supportive coal officials say few coal miners will benefit from the order.

    The most likely beneficiaries are coal companies operating expansive strip mines in the Western United States. Appalachian coal is too expensive to compete.

    Trump’s action prompted a strong response from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. (see below)

    “It is beyond belief that we have the leader of the most powerful country on earth, not believing in science,” Sanders said.

    Trump, he added, threatens “not only this generation” but also “the lives of our kids and our grandchildren.”

    Check out the video.