Shutting down power plants: Imaginary benefits, extensive harm

Environmental Protection Agency Seal

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

EPA mercury rules for electricity generating units are based on false science and economics

Guest post by Craig Rucker

The Environmental Protection Agency claims its “final proposed” Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rules will eliminate toxic pollution from electrical generating units, bring up to $140 billion in annual health benefits, and prevent thousands of premature deaths yearly – all for “only” $11 billion a year in compliance costs.

This may be true in the virtual reality of EPA computer models, linear extrapolations, cherry-picked health studies and statistics, government press releases and agency-generated public comments. However, in the real world inhabited by families, employers and other energy users, the new rules will bring few benefits, but will impose extensive costs that the agency chose to minimize or ignore in its analysis.

Emissions of mercury and other air toxics from power plants have been declining steadily for decades, as older generating units have been replaced with more efficient, less polluting systems or retrofitted with better pollution control technologies. While a few older plants still violate EPA’s draconian proposed rules – the new rules are not based on credible scientific and epidemiological studies.

As independent natural scientist Dr. Willie Soon and CFACT policy advisor Paul Driessen pointed out in their WallStreetJournal and Investor’sBusinessDaily articles, and in Dr. Soon’s 85-page critique of EPA’s draft rules, US power plants account for only 0.5% of the mercury in US air. Thus, even if EPA’s new rules eventually do eliminate 90% of mercury from power plant emission streams, that’s still only 90% of 0.5% – ie, almost zero benefit. The rest of the mercury in US air comes from natural and foreign sources, such as forest fires, Chinese power plants and the cremation of human remains (from tooth fillings that contain mercury and silver).

EPA fails to recognize that mercury is abundant in the earth’s crust. It is absorbed by trees through their roots – and released into the atmosphere when the trees are burned in forest fires, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. In fact, US forest fires annually emit as much mercury as all US coal-burning electrical power plants. Mercury and other “pollutants” are also released by geysers, volcanoes and subsea vents, which tap directly into subsurface rock formations containing these substances.

The agency compounds these errors by claiming fish contain dangerous levels of mercury that threatens the health and mental acuity of babies and children. In making this claim, the agency commits four more grievous errors. First, it ignores the fact that selenium in fish tissue is strongly attracted to mercury molecules and thus protects people against buildups of methylmercury, mercury’s more toxic form.

Second, EPA based its toxicity claims on a study of Faroe Islanders, who eat few fruits and vegetables, but feast on pilot whale meat and blubber that is high in mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – but very low in selenium. Third, it ignored a 17-year Seychelles Islands evaluation, which found “no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects” in children who eat five to twelve servings of fish per week.

Fourth, it used computer models to generate linear extrapolations from known or assumed toxic levels down to much lower levels. Not only is this method contrary to sound science and epidemiology; it resulted in politicized “safety” levels that are twice as restrictive as Canadian and World Health Organization mercury standards, three times more restrictive than US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and four times tougher than US Food and Drug Administration recommendations. No wonder the Centers for Disease Control says blood mercury levels in US women and children are already well below excessively “safe” levels set by EPA.

Simply put, EPA grossly exaggerated the health benefits of its proposed mercury rules – and then claimed additional mercury benefits based on double counting of reductions in particulate matter. It also ignored the adverse effects that its rules will inflict. Not only is EPA’s anti-mercury campaign scaring mothers and children into not eating nutritious fish that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. It is also raising electricity heating, air conditioning and food costs, impairing electrical reliability, costing jobs, and thereby harming the health and welfare of countless Americans.

Energy analyst Roger Bezdek has calculated that utilities will have to spend $130 billion to retrofit older plants – and another $30 billion a year to operate, maintain and power the energy-intensive pollution control equipment they will be forced to install. Moreover, under its MACT rules, EPA intends to micromanage every aspect of power plant operations. It will now cite companies for violations even if emissions fully comply with air quality standards, if operators merely deviate from new agency “work practice standards” and “operational guidelines,” even under unusual weather conditions or equipment malfunctions that are beyond the operators’ control.

While it is true that older power plants are more significant sources of toxic air emissions, those plants are mostly in key manufacturing states that burn coal to generate 48-98% of their electricity. Many utility companies cannot justify those huge costs – and thus plan to close dozens of units, representing tens of thousands of megawatts – enough to electrify tens of millions of homes and small businesses. Illinois alone will lose nearly 3,500 MW of reliable, affordable, baseload electricity – with little to replace it.

Electricity consumers could pay at least 20% more in many states within a few years. According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois families and businesses will pay 40-60% more. That will severely affect business investment, production and hiring – and family plans to repair cars and homes, save for college and retirement, take vacations, or have health physicals or surgery.

Chicago public schools will have to pay an additional $2.7 million annually for electricity by 2014, says the Tribune. Hospitals, factories and other major electricity users will also be hard hit. Many poor and minority families will find it increasingly hard to afford proper heating and air conditioning. Further job losses and economic stress will lead to further reductions in living standards and nutrition, more foreclosures and homelessness, and additional drug, alcohol, spousal and child abuse.

The very reliability of America’s electricity grid could be at risk, if multiple power plants shut down. Brownouts, blackouts and power interruptions will affect factory production lines, hospital, school, farm and office operations, employment, and the quality of food, products and services.

The impact on people’s health and welfare is patently obvious. But EPA considered none of this.

EPA insists there was strong public support for its rules. However, its rules were clearly based on false, biased or even fraudulent information. Furthermore, EPA itself generated much of that public support.

The agency recruited, guided and financed activist groups that promoted its rulemaking. Over the past decade, it gave nearly $4 billion to the American Lung Association and other advocacy organizations and various “environmental justice” groups, according to a Heritage Foundation study. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and members of her staff also visited historically black and other colleges – giving speeches about “toxic emissions,” providing templates for scare-mongering posters and postcards, and making it easy for students to send pro-rulemaking comments via click-and-submit buttons on websites.

This EPA action does nothing to improve environmental quality or human health. In fact, by advancing President Obama’s goal of shutting down power plants and raising electricity costs, it impairs job creation, economic recovery, and public health and welfare. It is intrusive government at its worst.

It is a massive power grab that threatens to give EPA nearly unfettered power over the electrical power we need to support our livelihoods and living standards.

Congress, states, utility companies, affected industries, school districts and hospitals, and families and citizen groups should immediately take action to postpone the MACT rules’ implementation. Otherwise, their harmful impacts will be felt long and hard in states that depend on coal for their electricity.

___________

Craig Rucker is CEO of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.

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Curiousgeorge

More scaremongering from the E.P.A. intended to consolidate their power and keep the peasants in a state of abject fear and poverty. Bunch of self-important jackasses.

crosspatch

It seems like a futile move to me when most of our atmospheric mercury is coming from China which is completely out of reach of the US EPA. I don’t expect these changes to have any significant impact on US air quality, certainly not global air quality, and that emissions growth from China and India will continue to play the dominant role in global pollution.

crosspatch

EPA insists there was strong public support for its rules. However, its rules were clearly based on false, biased or even fraudulent information. Furthermore, EPA itself generated much of that public support.

I don’t recall the issue of shutting of power plants on my ballot. When was this referendum? I seem to have missed it.

Askgerbil Now (@Askgerbil)

Forest fires are not a “natural source” of mercury emissions. “it comes from industrial …sources, often settling into soil and plant matter. Intense fires then release the mercury back into the atmosphere” (See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071017131817.htm )
However, mercury emissions from coal-fired power stations have been identified as the single largest industrial source of atmospheric emissions in the US. (See http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Energy/Energy-from-coal/MercuryInExportCoals.aspx )

Who cares if hundreds die during heat waves or cold snaps? As long as we avoid a few potential mercury poisonings a year, and make ourselves “feel better about the environment” doing it, we’re all on board, right?
/s

RiHo08

The endangerment finding, with its numerical health effects, used by the EPA to control carbon dioxide has no science basis. CO2 does not cause heart or lung or kidney, liver, brain, or whatever disease. CO2 does not cause asthma, cancer, childhood hyperactivity, poor school performance, premature births, etc. CO2 in concentrations of 5000 ppm in submarines is plausible to have an impact; its just not known as the science is…extremely limited. What Lisa Jackson demonstrates, is that she is a politician, no surprise, but not a scientist, nor science educated as one might hope to have reside in such an important air, water and ground pollution control position. There are many pollutants spewed into the air by coal burning power plants. Many of these pollutants do have health impacts although these pollutants by enlarge exacerbate existing human health conditions. These pollutants from coal fired power plants just don’t cause these human health conditions; the science on health consequences has to be extrapolated from other sources. Speculation about the health consequences of outdoor air pollution from coal fired power plants is entertaining. Along with some Seasonal rum and brandy laced egg nog while sitting by a glowing fire gives a warm and fuzzy feeling, the EPA’s health justification, saving 4000 new asthmatics from appearing on the health registry, is just a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Jon

At last you wake up to the possibility that WWF and Greenpeace has full radical control over your EPA?

Askgerbil Now,
Try to pay attention. You postewd a link to Austrailian emissions, which has no relevance to the EPA.

Alvin

It used to be that maximum emmissions were calculated and reachable with technology. Now, conspiring with marxists and environmentalists, their goal is ZERO emmissions which is not possible unless you shut down all industry and power creation.
Once you realize their goals, it all makes perfect sense.

crosspatch

Forest fires are not a “natural source” of mercury emissions. “it comes from industrial …sources, often settling into soil and plant matter.

I happen to live in an area with a high natural mercury content in the soil. Mercury was mined here during the California gold rush for use in separating gold from its carrier (mostly alluvium). The local streams and lakes have too high a mercury content to eat any fish one might catch in them. Places such as Stevens Creek Reservoir have large signs warning not to eat the fish due to high natural mercury content of the water.
Mercury is quite a common element in many places in the soil. Many of these places have natural fires during periods of drought.

John F. Hultquist

The EPA no longer is concerned with science, health, and the environment.
Solar, wind, and biofuels cannot be made cost-effective unless the price of coal produced electricity is made to “skyrocket.”
The investments of elected officials and non-elected bureaucrats, family, and friends, will not produce outsized profits unless existing power infrastructure is destroyed.
Which of the above statements do you not understand?

Ian W

Askgerbil Now (@Askgerbil) says:
December 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm
Forest fires are not a “natural source” of mercury emissions. “it comes from industrial …sources, often settling into soil and plant matter. Intense fires then release the mercury back into the atmosphere” (See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071017131817.htm )
However, mercury emissions from coal-fired power stations have been identified as the single largest industrial source of atmospheric emissions in the US. (See http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Energy/Energy-from-coal/MercuryInExportCoals.aspxss )

It is not identifying the largest anthropogenic source of mercury it is the identification of the safe level _and_ the effect of any new regulations. If the effect of the new regulation – even if it was a complete ban on any coal fired power stations – is totally insignificant and the safe level is not currently breached then it makes no sense to proceed. It is also indefensible that the same EPA that is frothing at the mouth in its eagerness to close efficient power generation due to mercury, is also making it a legal requirement that every home installs heated ampules of mercury vapor in every room of every house. The greatest source of mercury vapor will soon be defunct ‘curly’ light bulbs.
The EPA is making rules to justify its own existence and is only allowed because closing the US power generation is seen as a political imperative by the current administration. They are making an end-run around congress to do so.

Martin M

I’ve commented on my local paper’s run on this item (a liberal paper). Part of the EPA’s justification was the assertion that lowering these levels would save up to 11,000 lives a year. The reality is that such a small number in a 330,000,000 population isn’t statistically realistic, and such regulation is way beyond breaking the law of diminishing returns. Forcing rate payers to shell out billions for plant upgrades that cannot reasonably be linked to positive results is unethical at best.

Pat Moffitt

Askgerbil Now (@Askgerbil) says:
“Forest fires are not a “natural source” of mercury emissions. “it comes from industrial …sources, often settling into soil and plant matter. Intense fires then release the mercury back into the atmosphere”
You should really read the paper and understand the error bars. The US emissions of mercury are a tiny fraction of the global natural mercury cycling. Ever wonder how mercury got into coal in the first place?

Latitude

Since the main source of mercury in the food chain is from sulfur reducing bacteria….
…and the main source of sulfur reducing bacteria are rotting vegetation
I say we drain all those swamps, estuaries, bogs, Everglades, etc

EPA needs to be neutered. The EPA should not be able to enforce any rules or laws that have not been specifically directed by congress. Any rule that EPA proposes and wishes to enforce should be forced to be put before congress for a vote. Since when is it okay for the police to write and enforce their own laws? Our country has effectively been turned into a dictatorship! EPA has way to much authority, it must be reigned in by the next congress in 2012. That will only happen if we get rid of democrats control of the senate and WH.

Camburn

Mercury is a world wide traveler.
The following link is just from China, and the prevaling winds drop a lot of this mercury on the USA.
http://news.yahoo.com/chances-white-christmas-140008985.html

Dr Burns

Table 3.13 and 1.1 here
http://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/Atmospheric_Emissions/Technical_background_report.pdf
… seems to disagree with some of the suggestions in the article.
Total Hg emissions: 4.4 to 7 k ton pa
Total anthropogenic 2.6
Fossil fuel burning 0.8
Cremations 0.025

Camburn
davidgmills

My father was a PhD in biochemistry and taught graduate and medical school for forty years. He oftened complained that his medical students did not know near enough biochemistry. I learned enough from him to know that sometimes the wrong chemicals in parts per billion can be disastrous to health.
So when I see an engineer or other scientist who is not even an MD making claims about the health effects of certain things, I am always skeptical about what they have to say. Things that make economic sense don’t always make health sense.

Legatus

Facts, in the USA, it used to be that we produced about 96% of all that we needed or wanted. As of 10-12 years ago, we only produced 36%, as of a year ago or less, we only produced 24%. This means that in only one decade, we lost a full quarter of our industrial production. This EPA rule will rapidly accelerate that.
As we lose jobs, the tax base will go down. Our bureaucrats refuse to downsize when the tax base goes down, and in fact their pensions, salaries, pensions, benefits, pensions, fancy offices with ugly statues out front, and did I mentions pensions (paying them to not work) are going up at a rapidly accelerating rate. To pay for all that, taxes and licenses and fees (hidden taxes) will go up, further driving away business. many businesses will leave before they do, since they can see the writing on the wall, those that cannot leave will simply fold. I expect that now that businesses have seen this rule, many are planning their departure even now, and the rich are making travel plans as well.
Do not expect the unemployment rate to go down, those jobs are simply gone, no longer even present in the USA, they are gone forever. One cannot get a job at a business that no longer exists.
To get those taxes from an increasingly restive population and let the bureaucrats keep their jobs will take things like increased use of force, propaganda, silencing of dissent and speech, and the like. Essentially, this leads to dictatorship. To try an keep at least some industry will also take force. As the economy goes down, crime will also go up, the people will demand the government do something, and they will be only too glad to use increasing force, or more likely demand more power and money and then just keep it rather than actually do anything about the crime.
As we deliberately (continue to) destroy the productive base that we spend over 200 years building, the US dollar will decrease in value since foreigners will see that you can’t buy anything with it since we produce nothing. Thus, we will see that we cannot buy anything here, since we produce nothing, and we will not be able to import either, since no one will want the dollar. We will thus see that we have deliberately and systematically turned ourselves into a third world nation. We will not be able to work our way up by our bootstraps either, for one thing because it took so long to get here in the first place, but the main reason is because we will still have the bureaucrats on our back dragging us down. History shows that revolting against them will usually replace one dictatorship with yet another, usually a worse one, example, revolutionary France, lost a king, gained an emperor and a war.
In short, this rule will have effects that will accelerate beyond just the simple effect of the rule itself, and it will be worse than what one could calculate just from the effect on a certain number of power plants.
A question, when the lights go out, will they go out in Washington DC, what about EPA offices everywhere? What does this tell you?
The only hope for the US now is if we elect someone who eliminates this law, forever (if business sees that it is only delayed, they will leave anyway while they still can before it comes back). The EPA and bureaucrats do not wish that, and they may take action to assure that that does not happen. We can no longer fire government workers, it has become almost impossible, thus, we cannot actually control the EPA. If we use the only way we have left to control the bureaucrats, force, we have ushered in a dictatorship. Since we cannot now control them, being unable to fire them, we are in one already, only the magnitude of dictatorship is at issue, how much how soon.
“How soon we forget history … Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. and, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
-George Washington-

Pat Moffitt

Jon says:
“At last you wake up to the possibility that WWF and Greenpeace has full radical control over your EPA?”
The NGOs are merely extensions of EPA- look at them as the marketing and political action arms of the Agency. They also serve to expand regulator power through the courts. Better yet given the revolving door between EPA and the NGOs -think of this in terms of interlocking directorates.

kbray in california

Justifying and securing your government job/government grant by spinning facts to create an imaginary problem, is only logical, self-preservation-al, and appears to be pathologically endemic.

ntesdorf

A great article revealing how the ex-communist zombies and activists in the WWF and Greenpeace have taken complete control of the unrepresentative beaurocrats at the USA’s EPA?

Honest ABE

@Smokey
Actually, he is referring to this sentence:
“However mercury emissions from coal-fired power station has been identified by the USEPA as the single largest industrial source of atmospheric emissions in that country.”
But he didn’t read it properly – note my bolded sections.
It is the largest “industrial” source – but not the largest of all sources. Furthermore, it is either the largest industrial source that originates in the US itself or they didn’t differentiate between mercury from coal plants in China and those in the US.
Essentially, they are using the language of propagandists – not technically lying, but wording it in a way that misrepresents reality to people of average intelligence and reading skills.

Oh don’t worry..we can elect Romney..he’ll fix it all for you???

Askgerbil Now (@Askgerbil) says:
December 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm
Forest fires are not a “natural source” of mercury emissions. “it comes from industrial …sources, often settling into soil and plant matter.
=============================================
Tsk, tsk, your ellipses obfuscated “Mercury does not originate in fires. Instead, it comes from industrial and natural sources, ”
Alaska, which experienced vast wildfires from 2002 to 2006, released far more mercury than other states
In contrast, states in the Midwest and Great Lakes emitted comparatively little mercury from fires.

May I ask you tell us what is the reason of numerous lung cancer reported in cities in comparison to rural areas?
I drink daily, plenty of CO2 with my COCA COLA, I’m not worried about it.
Man-made CO2 comes with lots of harmful elements. There is a limit over CO2 ppm of course, otherwise man would die because of the lack of oxygen.
That’s why man-made CO2 in almost greater cities should be controlled not because of the CO2 itself.
In undergrounds railways/metros, the direct Fossil Based Fuel Locomotives are strongly prohibited. The required power is gained from power plants located at outside the cities. In greater cities, heavy traffic condition is going to be the same as underground railways. Daily traffic regulations that are apparently considered for providing lighter traffic, have not been successful so far. In many cities around the world, local climate and geographical situation are making more difficulties for the residents. officially, the governments reduce working days of the weeks. Schools are closed until the air pollution is controlled. The solution here would be EV system automobiles or electric vehicles. As said above, this is not because of CO2 only, it is due to the other issues coming with CO2.

ferdberple

“Pat Moffitt says:
December 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm
Ever wonder how mercury got into coal in the first place?”
That the EPA makes no distinction between toxic and non-toxic forms of mercury is equivalent to banning table salt because it is made from sodium and chlorine, both of which are toxic.
The WHO reports that mercury from amalgam and laboratory devices accounts for 53% of total mercury emissions. WHO. (2005).Mercury in Health Care
According to the EPA “logic”, tens of millions of Americans should have died as a result of mercury in filings, with billions of dollars in extra health care costs the result.
Why has the EPA not moved against the dental industry to shut them down and fine them with billions of dollars in punitive damages? Why the selective targeting of energy production?

This is obviously a complex issue in both scientific and social/economic political terms. Some coal does have mercury and other less then desirable stuff. Most do not. Much of this stuff is the precautionary principal taken to some absurd extreme. If I was a religious person I would be praying for god to save us from well intentioned idologs.

Camburn

Well, it would appear that we have other more pressing problems. But of course, they are not coal related:
http://news.yahoo.com/us-cities-struggle-control-sewer-overflows-183924699.html

A physicist

Fundamental molecular biology, animal experiments, and observational studies all agree that mercury/metal and DDT/chemical toxicity are legitimate public health concerns.
Skepticism that does not acknowledge this growing body of evidence cannot call itself “rational.”

crosspatch said:
“It seems like a futile move to me when most of our atmospheric mercury is coming from China which is completely out of reach of the US EPA. I don’t expect these changes to have any significant impact on US air quality,”
Many of you are missing the point. The whole point of this, and now the role of EPA and the gov’t as a whole, is to limit economic development and to destroy private industry. This is nothing more than blatant Socialism and unconstitutional behavior by going around Congress.
EPA shouldn’t even be a voice for change. Their job is to implement – not to promote and lobby. EPA has moved outside its mandate and needs to be sanctioned.
Unfortunately, our government has turned to Socialism. Even some of our most strident Conservatives and Libertarians refuse or are incapable of fixing our ills.
If we can’t even fix our lightbulb problem, we surely can’t fix our deeper governmental and economic failures. (OT: Heard the Solyndra employees received a federal benefits package post-bankruptcy)

Pat Moffitt

davidgmills says:
“Things that make economic sense don’t always make health sense.”
You could not be more wrong–“economic sense” and “health sense” are always the same thing. Consider if the Tribune is correct and electricity rises by 40-60% in Illinois. Money will be diverted from patient care to pay electric bills at hospitals. Many companies will move from the State or go under given the catastrophic rise in energy. The State will collect less tax revenues and therefore have less to spend on health care. The citizens will also become more impoverished which has a greater association with ill health than does mercury. We can also expect less energy to be used which should increase cold related deaths. And under the worst case scenarios of rolling blackouts we can expect any number of additional mortalities. And as people try to save money and lower energy costs we will see a tremendous increase in the use of wood stoves. The power loss on the east coast during the October snow storm showed that as people used their stoves in response to the lack of power that particulate air quality violations became numerous.
And the easiest way to see this is a fraud– I’m sure your father would not have ascribed to EPAs claim that falling particulates and rising asthma rates over the last 4 decades justify further decreasing particulates to prevent asthma. C’mon doesn’t that make you just say WTF?
The disconnect between economic and human health only seem unrelated when you don’t consider the perverse consequences.

They want to stop a few ounces of mercury from US power plants. What about the tons from China?

“Fourth, it used computer models to generate linear extrapolations from known or assumed toxic levels down to much lower levels. Not only is this method contrary to sound science and epidemiology; it resulted in politicized “safety” levels that are twice as restrictive as Canadian and World Health Organization mercury standards, three times more restrictive than US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and four times tougher than US Food and Drug Administration recommendations.”
I need that computer model for a sec, to make a few quick calculations on the safe mercury levels resulting from a leaking or exploded CFL bulb in a carpeted 20′ x 20′ room. I hope it is a supercomputer for this one.

Bill

@ Askerbill Now
Interesting that you chose to selectively misquote the article you linked to. It says the mercury comes from natural and industrial sources that are absorbed by trees and then released in forest fires.
If we had more nuclear and less coal we would not have to worry about mercury from coal. But we would still have natural sources.
In the past, the biggest sources were lead in paint which has gone down since the 1950’s and then lead in gasoline which has gone way down since the 1980’s so we are much better off already than we had been for the last 80 years.

Legatus says:
December 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm
Facts, in the USA, it used to be that we produced about 96% of all that we needed or wanted. As of 10-12 years ago, we only produced 36%, as of a year ago or less, we only produced 24%. This means that in only one decade, we lost a full quarter of our industrial production. This EPA rule will rapidly accelerate that.
====================================================
It sure will. This new rule will have horrible effects to the health of our economy and people. Poverty creates many more health issues than what little mercury we’ll pull out of the air. But, the people at the EPA know this. This isn’t about health, this is about the socialists pursuing their agenda of systematically destroying out industrial base. The EPA knows that we’ve already reduced coal fired air pollution 80% from 1970 with their other rule enforcements. In the mean time, since about 2000, we’ve seen a nearly 50% increase to our cost of electricity. There is nothing more restricting to an economy than restricting our energy.
For those that wish to see some graphics with links to official government data for the pollution numbers, and costs go here…..
http://suyts.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/epa-seeks-more-authority-to-destroy-local-economies/
Our own countrymen and women exercising tyranny over U.S. citizens. These people have no shame, no conscience, and no morality.

A physicist

For a summary of available medical knowledge, see the recent comprehensive survey article Epidemiologic evidence of relationships between reproductive and child health outcomes and environmental chemical contaminants (available free on-line, with no paywall).
This article aims to be a comprehensive survey, and is 146 pages long. Although this survey appeared fairly recently (2008), it has already been cited 86 times (that’s a lot). Thus, to a pretty good approximation, if a given chemical is not discussed in this article, then we don’t know much about it.
Short summary: There is ample scientific evidence that power that is cheap at the plug can be exceedingly dear at the doctor’s office.
The appropriate trade-offs are not easily decided.

Dr. Dave

I could MAYBE understand it if the EPA had gone after particulates emitted by older coal fired power stations. But mercury? Give me a break. Out of necessity I’ve actually researched human disease as it relates to environmental mercury. Outside a few professions like the old methods for gold extraction, gold inlay and hat making, it’s almost entirely BS. MOST of atmospheric mercury consists of methyl mercury and MOST of this is naturally outgassed from the oceans. True dat! Search through the wealth of information available at the SPPI website. Inform yourselves!
Year after year am I am presented with strident calls about the dangers of mercury in vaccinations. So I figured it out one time. One would have to take 117 flu shots to equal the amount of organic mercury found in a single can of chunk tuna. Further the mercury in the tuna is methyl mercury and the mercury in the vaccinations is ethyl mercury which is eliminated much faster. Believe me, I could go on all day on this subject. We needn’t fear the dreaded curly lightbulb (mine end up in the trash…yeah…so sue me) and for the most part we needn’t be puckered up about environmental mercury.

Pat Moffitt says:
December 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm
davidgmills says:
“Things that make economic sense don’t always make health sense.”
You could not be more wrong–”economic sense” and “health sense” are always the same thing. Consider if the Tribune is correct and electricity rises by 40-60% in Illinois.
================================================================
Bingo! It is poverty that kills. Always. These people making these wild assertions about our air quality and health seem to forget history. Electricity, mostly from coal fired plants, has significantly extended the life expectancy of every American.

EPA–the most dangerous thing known to mankind.

A physicist says:
December 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Short summary: There is ample scientific evidence that power that is cheap at the plug can be exceedingly dear at the doctor’s office.
The appropriate trade-offs are not easily decided.
==================================================
Allow me be a little more concise than the 146 pages. What was the life expectancy in the U.S. prior to coal fired electricity? Well, in the 1920s it was about Life expectancy: Male 53.6, Female 54.6; What is it today? Oh, about 75-80.
I’m thinking the trade-off is pretty clear.

Bruce

Mercury belongs in the light bulbs in your kid’s bedroom, not in the air. Everyone knows that.

Pat Moffitt

Dr. Dave says:
“I could MAYBE understand it if the EPA had gone after particulates emitted by older coal fired power stations.”
The US particulate air levels are the lowest seen in centuries as a result of fire suppression. The 100,000 acre Pagami Fire in MN this summer caused air quality violations in Chicago some 500 mi away. However before the fire suppression era this area burned that amount every year AND more importantly so did 100 to 150 MILLION acres of prairie land.

Pat Moffitt

Bruce says:
“Mercury belongs in the light bulbs in your kid’s bedroom, not in the air. Everyone knows that.”
And given that the worst air quality is found inside our homes and businesses where we spend most of time- EPA funds efforts to reduce air exchange in building in the name of “energy efficiency.”

D. King

Quack!
http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/mercury.html
Are you scared yet?
Boo…how about now?
LOL!

Peixoto

From the third paragraph: “Emissions of mercury and other air toxics from power plants have been declining steadily for decades, as older generating units have been replaced with more efficient, less polluting systems or retrofitted with better pollution control technologies. While a few older plants still violate EPA’s draconian proposed rules – …”
Can someone tell me how draconian and outrage-inducing proposed rules can affect only a few older [and almost certainly inefficient] plants?

RiHo08

La Miya Casa & A Physicist.
CO2 does not cause any of what you state as relevant to yourselves and others. Regulating the effluent from coal powered power plants can be argued favorably that it should be done. When CO2 and water vapor, two of the most effective green house gases, although they may play only a small role in climate change, are to be regulated, that is the nonsense. The use of the endangerment finding for regulating greenhouse gases is only a political issue. I repeat, CO2 and water vapor do not cause cancer, bad behavior of your teenager, asthma, whatever. There is no scientific paper to ascribe any health effects to the greenhouse gases CO2 & water vapor. Therefore the endangerment finding for CO2 & water vapor has absolutely no scientific basis and should be removed from the EPA’s regulatory purview.

Camburn

A physist@2:12
Thank you for the link.
I know that current EPA standards have greatly reduced Hg emissions. I live in a state that uses a lot of lignite coal to furnish power for neighboring states. The levels of emissions presented from the earlier link are very low.
The ability of mercury to travel in the atmosphere, with its known health effects, begs this one to be an international controlled element.
I would completely support an International IPCC type treaty to lower world emission of Hg. From what I have researched, it appears that the USA is by far the leader in controlling its emissions. So, in essence, when science is NOT in doubt, we remain a world leader and a very good neighbor.
The current EPA regulations are nothing more than an indirect attack on coal burning power plants. The economic repercussions of this may be very negative long term. As we divert more resources to try and shut down all coal, we are loosing the battle because of other items that are more important such as raw sewage, drain sewage etc. Direct polution points in our rivers and streams.
This is not good thinking, and extremely poor planning.