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reminds me of energy policy
September 23, 2004 6:04 PM   Subscribe

What a coincidence, huh? (wapo, reg reqd) For the third time, environmental advocates have discovered passages in the Bush administration's proposal for regulating mercury pollution from power plants that mirror almost word for word portions of memos written by a law firm representing coal-fired power plants. The passages state that the Environmental Protection Agency is not required to regulate other hazardous toxins emitted by power plants, such as lead and arsenic. The actual proposals and study are here.
posted by amberglow (9 comments total)

 
I don't see what the problem is. Heck, the Romans drank out of lead bowls and they turned out fine. And Rasputin ate arsenic with every meal, and look how hard it was to kill him! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a seafood dinner to eat.
posted by solistrato at 6:29 PM on September 23, 2004


For those too lazy or scared to register, here's the important bit:
Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and one of the senators who called for the probe last spring, said the revelation that the EPA adopted the same wording as an industry source "no longer comes as much of a surprise."

"The Bush administration continues to let industry write the rules on pollution, and this is just one more example of how they abuse the public trust," he said.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:52 PM on September 23, 2004


I dunno much about any heavy metals, but I wish Karl Rove would stop jamming broken thermometers up the ass of Democratic shrimp.

Saw him in the intercoastal waterway just last night, I did.
posted by stonerose at 8:01 PM on September 23, 2004


Makes you wonder what Rove's plan is for the day when Earth can no longer support human life. Does Halliburton have a space colonization unit or something?
posted by ilsa at 8:55 PM on September 23, 2004


I don't believe it's a concern. They're all going on up in the rapture.
posted by substrate at 10:17 PM on September 23, 2004


ilsa: When President Bush inspires us onward and upward to Mars this week, his political calculations may be more earthly. Expanding space exploration is a wonderful aspiration for America and humanity -- and also quite promising for the Houston economy, the national aerospace industry, and one company in particular that has long pondered exploration of the red planet: Halliburton.
-- Joe Conason
posted by swell at 11:08 PM on September 23, 2004


Thanks, amberglow. I've been in discussion lately with some job friends from Tennessee. Tennessee people ar generally great, very friendly, not racist, and nothing like the "southern redneck" stereotype that I find more prevalent in Ohio and many parts of New Hampshire. They've worked with me daily (by phone and e-mail) for five years and one finally spoke up and asked me for whom I'd be voting. They're all very intelligent and cool people, but not terribly informed and they tend to "believe the hype." It's not often I get to have a rational discussion with Republicans or Bush supporters, but these people have known, liked and respected me for five years, and so they listen.

My point is, concise and dramatic examples like this provide incredible fuel for the otherwise short soundbites I've been throwing their way about Bush and the environment, big business, corruption, etc. For me, this is a rare opportunity for discussion and education.

I think the other reason they listen to me about politics is that I am universally cynical about Democrats, Republicans, and indeed all politicians who, let's face it, wouldn't survive the game if they weren't rich and dirty to begin with.

Anyway, thanks.
posted by Shane at 6:37 AM on September 24, 2004


EPA Narrows Access to Toxics Release Data

Just a little Mercury in the fish. Don't worry.

"Sometimes, changing just one word can have astonishing consequences. Consider an Aug. 17 report by The Washington Post ("Appalachia Is Paying Price for White House Rule"). In the 1990s, coal companies in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee used so-called mountaintop removal to flatten hundreds of peaks as they recovered the coal within them. Because federal laws were poorly enforced, they dumped mining waste into the valleys below, burying 700 miles of mountain streams, and forcing the communities affected to relocate.
Lawsuits resulting from these practices were almost successful in stopping mountaintop removal. But then the Bush administration, responding to industry appeals, changed one word in the regulations governing such mining: The word "waste" became "fill." As a result, the coal industry is back to flattening mountain peaks. They now - legally - dumpfill into the valleys below.
Congress first passed the Clean Air Act in 1970. As described in "Changing All the Rules" (April 4, New York Times Magazine), this law "grandfathered" old coal-burning electric power plants. Only new plants would have to install modern air-pollution controls. This did not sufficiently improve air quality, so in 1977 Congress developed a new rule ("new source review"): When plants make substantial improvements to their equipment, they must also install up-to-date pollution-control equipment.
Some plants did install cleaner-burning technology in the 1980s and 1990s. Many others just ignored the rule; they called modernization of equipment "routine repairs and upgrades" and did not install pollution-control equipment. EPA said "this was the most significant noncompliance pattern [it had] ever found."
Finally, in the late 1990s, the courts acted in response to lawsuits. However, then - you guessed it - the Bush administration interfered. Last fall, Bush told people gathered before a Michigan electric-power plant: "Now we've issued new rules that will allow utility companies, like this one right here, to make routine repairs and upgrades without enormous costs and endless disputes. We simplified the rules. We made them easy to understand. We trust the people in this plant to make the right decisions."
And now, 34 years after the passage of the first Clean Air Act, there is still no modern pollution control equipment in the most polluting of America's power plants.
In addition to other air pollutants, coal-burning power plants are the largest unregulated source of the toxic metal mercury - about 48 tons each year. Mercury contamination is the most common reason states issue advisories regarding eating fish caught in more than a third of America's lakes and nearly a fourth of its rivers. Nonetheless, the EPA (now controlled by a Bush appointee) recently moved to downgrade the hazardous classification of mercury and to give power plants 15 more years to implement controls. Overnight, mercury conveniently became less hazardous. "

posted by troutfishing at 7:46 AM on September 24, 2004


Shane, anytime.

I'm continually being surprised by the amount of law and policy being written by industry figures, and often without any input from scientists, experts, or consumer groups. This administration has completely given itself over to industry and lobbyists when forming law and policy to an extent never seen before, which is really saying something, since every modern adminstration has done it. And when you put the relaxing of clean air and water rules together with legal reforms proposed so you can't sue if damaged, it's a truly toxic combination on our end.
posted by amberglow at 10:24 AM on September 24, 2004


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