|EPA headquarters in Washington, DC|
Monday, December 16, 2013
The Power-Mad EPA
Barely a week goes by these days without hearing of some new demand by the Environmental Protection Agency that borders on the insane.
Increasingly, EPA regulations are being challenged and now reach the Supreme Court for a final judgment. This marks the failure of Congress to exercise any real oversight and control of an agency that everyone agrees is now totally out of control.
Recently the EPA ruled that New York City had to replace 1,300 fire hydrants because of their lead content. The ruling was based on the Drinking Water Act passed by Congress in 2011. As Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) pointed out while lambasting the agency, “I don’t know a single New Yorker who goes out to their fire hydrants every morning, turns it on, and brushes their teeth using the water from these hydrants. It makes no sense whatsoever.” Reportedly, the Senate is poised to consider legislation exempting fire hydrants if the EPA does not revise its ruling.
The EPA is not about making sense. It is about over-interpreting laws passed by Congress in ways that now continually lead to cases before the Supreme Court. The Court is composed of lawyers, not scientists. In an earlier case, they ruled that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a “pollutant” when it is the one gas that all vegetation requires. Without it, nothing grows and all life on Earth dies.
A federal appeals court recently heard a case about the EPA’s interpretation of the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, yet another effort in the “war on coal” that would shut down more coal-fired plants that provide the bulk of the electricity the nation requires.
The EPA is asserting that the rule would annually prevent 11,000 premature deaths, nearly 5,000 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks. Moreover it asserts that it would help avoid more than 540,000 missed work days, and protect babies and children. These statistics are plucked from various studies published in journals and are typical of the way the EPA operates to justify its rulings. Their accuracy is dubious.
What makes this case, brought by EarthJustice--formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund--of interest is the way the NAACP, along with 17 other organizations, came to the defense of the ruling. Are you surprised that the NAACP has a director of Environmental and Climate Justice?
Apparently civil rights for Afro-Americans now embraces the absurd claims about climate change, formerly known as global warming. “Civil rights are about equal access to protections afforded by law,” said Jacqui Patterson, the NAACP director. “These standards provide essential safeguards for communities who are now suffering from decades of toxic exposure.” If these essential safeguards are in place, on what basis does she make such a claim?
The EarthJustice attorney, Jim Pew, claims the case is about protecting “hundreds of thousands of babies each year from development disorders, and spare communities of 130,000 asthma attacks each year. If, in a lawsuit, you find yourself arguing against the lives of babies, children with asthma, and people suffering from your toxic dumping, then you are on the wrong side of both the lawsuit and history..”
Here, again, the claims about health-related harm are absurd. Who believes that asthma or development disorders are related to mercury? Who believes that communities served by coal-fired power plants are subject to major health hazards?
The claims about mercury are baseless, in a 2011 commentary published in The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Willie Soon, a geoscientist at Harvard and expert on mercury and public health issues was joined by Paul Driesson, a senior policy advisor for the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), rebuts the claims about mercury that have been part of the environmental lies put forth for years.
“There is no factual basis for these assertions. To build its case against mercury, the EPA systematically ignored evidence and clinical studies that contradict its regulatory agenda, which is the punish hydrocarbon use.”
“Mercury has always existed naturally in the Earth’s environment…Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and tries, which absorb it from the environment. This is why our bodies evolved with proteins and antioxidants that help protect us from this and other potential contaminants.”
Dr. Soon and Driessen do not deny that coal-burning power plants emit an estimated 41-to-48 tons of mercury per year, “but U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons, Chinese power plants eject 400 tons; and volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers, and other sources spew out 9,000-10,000 additional tons per year.”
“Since our power plants account for less than 0.5% of all the mercury in the air we breathe, eliminating every milligram of it will do nothing about the other 99.5% in our atmosphere.”
Such FACTS mean nothing to the EPA. The air and the water of the United States is remarkably clean, but to justify its existence and expand its power, the EPA continues to impose idiotic and unscientific rules about fire hydrants and power plants.
The threat is the EPA, not mercury.
© Alan Caruba, 2013