28. January 2004 · Categories: Environment, Politics · Tags: ,

Just read about this on the NRDC site…

NRDC and other environmental groups leaked a draft Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would weaken and delay efforts to clean up mercury emissions from America’s coal-fired power plants. The article goes on to explain that those 1,100 facilities are the largest unregulated industrial sources of mercury contamination in the country, spewing 50 tons of the poison — roughly 40 percent of U.S. industrial mercury emissions — into the air each year.

EPA administrator Mike Leavitt defended the draft proposal as an emissions cap-and-trade program similar to the one that has reduced acid rain…

I don’t know much about the reduction of acid rain, but I can see the bullshit factor in the cap-and-trade program. I’ve read that when such programs were first installed some of the big polluters actually created small green energy companies that don’t make a lot of money but are real good for saving pollution credits that the parent companies can buy. I’m assuming the pollution credits are cheaper than the cost of actually cleaning up.

Apparently, the proposal is to downgrade mercury from being regulated as a “hazardous” pollutant to one that requires less stringent pollution controls. By doing so, the EPA’s “cap” would allow nearly seven times more annual mercury emissions over a period five times longer than current law.

NRDC points out that an emissions trading program would allow “hot spots” of mercury contamination in the lakes and rivers neighboring plants that buy pollution credits instead of reducing their mercury emissions. See what I mean?

I mean why is this not a big deal for conservatives? Check this out…

* According to the EPA, toxic mercury emissions from power plants put 300,000 newborns each year at risk for neurological impairment.
* Nearly 5 million American women of childbearing age have mercury in their blood above EPA’s “safe” level.
* Mercury pollution has contaminated 12 million acres of lakes, estuaries and wetlands — 30 percent of the national total — and 473,000 miles of streams, rivers and coastlines.
* Last year, 44 states and territories issued warnings about eating mercury-contaminated fish, a 63 percent jump from 1993.

* Seventeen states have mercury warnings for every inland water body, while 11 states issue warnings for mercury in their coastal waters.

I just don’t understand why people are so much more worried about terrorists when on average terrorists never manage to kill more than a handful of Americans a year. (The 3,000 on 9/11 was by far the largest killing ever by terrorists in 300 years of history, but even if 3,000 were killed every year, it still wouldn’t add up to millions, and pollution is a confirmed killer of millions every year.

Then I read things like this…

According to the Center for Responsive Politics ), the energy industry gave more than $48 million to the Republican Party in the 2000 election cycle; $3 million of that went to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

  • American Electric Power, Southern Co. ($1.6 million to GOP in 2000 cycle)
  • Reliant Energy (nearly $445,000 to GOP)
  • Dominion Resources ($560,000 to GOP)

    Along with the government-owned Tennessee Valley Authority, these corporations were responsible for one-third of all U.S. electric utility mercury emissions that year and American Electric Power alone released 10 percent of all power-plant mercury emissions. The above four companies also were among the beneficiaries of the recent EPA ruling that essentially repealed the Clean Air Act provision requiring power plants to install modern-day pollution controls if they increased emissions when upgrading their plants.

    I guess it’s all about money.

  • Hannity was interviewing (or should I say cross examining) Robert Kennedy Jr on the show the other day and Kennedy mentioned that according to estimates by the National Academy of Science, over 30,000 people will die each year from increases in pollution as a result of Bush’s so-called Clean Air Act.

    Let’s see, 3,000 people died in the biggest terrorist attack in US history and Bush takes the country to war “to make the world safe”, yet he has no problem signing a bill with the potential to kill 30,000 people each year…? I’m not trying to downplay the 9/11 attacks, that was a horrible thing, but I just can’t get past the numbers. I mean if the objective is to make the world safe for American citizens then wouldn’t a threat to 30,000 American lives be a concern? Would those 30,000 deaths be more significant if they exploded in balls of fire instead of dying quietly in a hospital bed?

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that our president is on our side.