Sierra Club Driving Final Nail into Coal Industry's Coffin

The Sierra Club is not only one of America’s most radical environmentalist non-governmental-agencies (NGOs), it’s also one of the richest and most influential.

In a recent email to supporters, the Sierra Club expressed an urgent need to pressure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “Protect Our National Parks from Coal Plant Haze.” The email reads:

The polluters are doing their best to undermine this proposed change. Their cozy relationship with Congress and state regulators means they like the do-nothing plans and will do their best to stop any further protections. But their insider influence can't beat our secret weapon: you. By flooding EPA with public comments in favor of strong protections for national parks, you can show them the public supports clean air and clear skies.

The ‘proposed changes’ mentioned in the article are the EPA’s plans to reduce “Regional Haze”. Decades in the making, the rules would put restrictions on power plants and other “particulate-producing” operations, up to 100 miles away from the boundaries of national parks. National parks already receive a Class-1 EPA air-quality rating, which reaches well outside of the parks themselves.

According to an analysis of the “Regional Haze” plan by the Congressional Western Congress, the EPA is attempting to implement an “aesthetic regulation.” The analysis states:

Because Regional Haze is an aesthetic regulation, and not a public health standard, Congress emphasized that states, and not EPA, should be the lead decision makers. However, EPA -- with some help from its friends at special interest groups and the controversial “Sue and Settle” Rulemaking process -- has devised a loophole to usurp state authority and federally impose a strict new set of emissions controls that cost 10 to 20 times more than the technology the states would otherwise have used.

The analysis goes on to point out the limitations and dangers of the haze plan:

1. It is usually far more expensive than the states’ preferred haze controls, and

2. It offers little to no noticeable visibility improvements over the states’ preferred haze controls. EPA’s Regional Haze program is all cost, no benefit- and the states and utilities are forced to pay an enormous amount for it.

The EPA and the Sierra Club both have failed to mention the most significant source of regional haze on earth, and that is wildfires. A 2013 report in Climate Central titled, “Wildfires & Air Pollution, a Hidden Hazard”, lays out some of the extreme impacts on air quality from wildfires, most of which occur in federally-managed forests in Western States. The report produced data proving that the “largest western wildfires are much more common than 40 years ago”, and that:

Smoke from all the fires we analyzed caused the worst air quality days of the year. In cities and towns near the wildfires, and in some cases, up to hundreds of miles away from the burn areas, air quality was often so bad it was comparable to an average day in Beijing, China, which, with a population of nearly 20 million people, is among the worst polluted cities on the planet with an average PM2.5 level of 120 µg/m3. Wildfires burning within 100 miles of a city routinely caused air quality to be 5-15 times worse than normal, and often 2-3 times worse than the worst non-fire day of the year. In all of the fires we analyzed, air quality was so poor that it was classified as unhealthy for children, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions. And in all but one of the fires, particulates in the air exceeded the level that was unhealthy for anyone.

Western wildfires in 2015 were some of the largest and most destructive in history, and resulted in haze that lasted for weeks and months in some regions of the West, yet those realities are not addressed by the Sierra Club or EPA.

It seems obvious that wildfires are largely to blame for creating haze in national parks, but the Sierra Club remains intent on waging a “war on coal.” In so doing it is not merely deflecting attention from wildfire pollution, but is hiding the fact that the war on coal is costing Americans money and jobs. A 2015 report details how EPA coal-focused regulations are having dire economic effects on America’s middle and low-income families.

In recent testimony to Congress, EPA Chief Gina McCarthy admitted that her own agency’s Clean Power regulations would have virtually no effect on “global climate change,” to which CO2 from fossil fuel-burning power plants is linked by “global warming” advocates.

Despite the proliferation of clean coal technology and research showing the “war on coal” has had a devastating effect on jobs, local economies, and energy prices in several regions of the country, the EPA and Sierra Club appear to be ignoring the facts about haze in favor of a radical political agenda.

With its omission of wildfires at the key haze-producing factor in national parks, and its inordinate obsession with coal, the Sierra Club seems less interested in reducing haze than it is in putting the final nail in the coal industry’s coffin. 

The Sierra Club is not only one of America’s most radical environmentalist non-governmental-agencies (NGOs), it’s also one of the richest and most influential.

In a recent email to supporters, the Sierra Club expressed an urgent need to pressure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “Protect Our National Parks from Coal Plant Haze.” The email reads:

The polluters are doing their best to undermine this proposed change. Their cozy relationship with Congress and state regulators means they like the do-nothing plans and will do their best to stop any further protections. But their insider influence can't beat our secret weapon: you. By flooding EPA with public comments in favor of strong protections for national parks, you can show them the public supports clean air and clear skies.

The ‘proposed changes’ mentioned in the article are the EPA’s plans to reduce “Regional Haze”. Decades in the making, the rules would put restrictions on power plants and other “particulate-producing” operations, up to 100 miles away from the boundaries of national parks. National parks already receive a Class-1 EPA air-quality rating, which reaches well outside of the parks themselves.

According to an analysis of the “Regional Haze” plan by the Congressional Western Congress, the EPA is attempting to implement an “aesthetic regulation.” The analysis states:

Because Regional Haze is an aesthetic regulation, and not a public health standard, Congress emphasized that states, and not EPA, should be the lead decision makers. However, EPA -- with some help from its friends at special interest groups and the controversial “Sue and Settle” Rulemaking process -- has devised a loophole to usurp state authority and federally impose a strict new set of emissions controls that cost 10 to 20 times more than the technology the states would otherwise have used.

The analysis goes on to point out the limitations and dangers of the haze plan:

1. It is usually far more expensive than the states’ preferred haze controls, and

2. It offers little to no noticeable visibility improvements over the states’ preferred haze controls. EPA’s Regional Haze program is all cost, no benefit- and the states and utilities are forced to pay an enormous amount for it.

The EPA and the Sierra Club both have failed to mention the most significant source of regional haze on earth, and that is wildfires. A 2013 report in Climate Central titled, “Wildfires & Air Pollution, a Hidden Hazard”, lays out some of the extreme impacts on air quality from wildfires, most of which occur in federally-managed forests in Western States. The report produced data proving that the “largest western wildfires are much more common than 40 years ago”, and that:

Smoke from all the fires we analyzed caused the worst air quality days of the year. In cities and towns near the wildfires, and in some cases, up to hundreds of miles away from the burn areas, air quality was often so bad it was comparable to an average day in Beijing, China, which, with a population of nearly 20 million people, is among the worst polluted cities on the planet with an average PM2.5 level of 120 µg/m3. Wildfires burning within 100 miles of a city routinely caused air quality to be 5-15 times worse than normal, and often 2-3 times worse than the worst non-fire day of the year. In all of the fires we analyzed, air quality was so poor that it was classified as unhealthy for children, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions. And in all but one of the fires, particulates in the air exceeded the level that was unhealthy for anyone.

Western wildfires in 2015 were some of the largest and most destructive in history, and resulted in haze that lasted for weeks and months in some regions of the West, yet those realities are not addressed by the Sierra Club or EPA.

It seems obvious that wildfires are largely to blame for creating haze in national parks, but the Sierra Club remains intent on waging a “war on coal.” In so doing it is not merely deflecting attention from wildfire pollution, but is hiding the fact that the war on coal is costing Americans money and jobs. A 2015 report details how EPA coal-focused regulations are having dire economic effects on America’s middle and low-income families.

In recent testimony to Congress, EPA Chief Gina McCarthy admitted that her own agency’s Clean Power regulations would have virtually no effect on “global climate change,” to which CO2 from fossil fuel-burning power plants is linked by “global warming” advocates.

Despite the proliferation of clean coal technology and research showing the “war on coal” has had a devastating effect on jobs, local economies, and energy prices in several regions of the country, the EPA and Sierra Club appear to be ignoring the facts about haze in favor of a radical political agenda.

With its omission of wildfires at the key haze-producing factor in national parks, and its inordinate obsession with coal, the Sierra Club seems less interested in reducing haze than it is in putting the final nail in the coal industry’s coffin.