public health threat
After more than 20 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally set federal limits on how much mercury pollution power plants can release into the atmosphere. The fact that the power industry has been able to dump unlimited amounts of mercury and other toxics into the skies (and eventually into the ocean and tuna) without penalty for so long is mind-boggling.
Unless, that is, you ask industry groups and their friends in Congress, who are already parroting the same talking points they bring out every time a new pollution control appears – despite the fact that the Clean Air Act turns out to be a bargain for America over and over again.
King Coal once again takes the crown for title of dirtiest polluter in the land – or in this case, the air. Coal-burning power plants cough up more hazardous air pollutants than any other source of industrial pollution in the U.S., but it doesn’t have to be that way, says a new report from the American Lung Association (ALA). The report, released March 8, anticipates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) expected proposal to reign in this kind of noxious air pollution with a new set of rules for electric utilities, which include coal and oil-fired power plants.
Congress passed amendments to the Clean Air Act way back in 1990 to limit the release of these air pollutants, but for twenty years, the electric utility industry has taken advantage of various loopholes and extensions to avoid cleaning up all facilities in the way other industries have been doing so across the country for years.
“It’s time that we end the ‘toxic loophole’ that has allowed coal-burning power plants to operate without any federal limits on emissions of mercury, arsenic, dioxin, acid gases such as hydrogen chloride and other dangerous pollutants,” said ALA president Charles D. Connor in a press release.
The New York Times today released its third piece in a shocking series of articles revealing the health threats posed by the renegade U.S. natural gas industry. The latest piece documents how the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to protect public health as the gas rush escalated - thanks to the dangerous high volume slickwater fracking technique now dominating the industry - to the currently uncontrolled threat that it represents.
Ian Urbina’s latest investigative report proves that politics is playing a significant role in the EPA’s failure to hold the gas industry accountable for its damage to drinking water supplies and public health in Pennsylvania, offering clear indications that the problem is not likely isolated to just that state.
The NY Times series is a must-read for anyone concerned about the huge power that entrenched fossil fuel industries have over public health and safety agencies, rendering science and documented health impacts afterthoughts while focusing on protecting industry interests.
Check out the latest article, Politics Seen to Limit E.P.A. as It Sets Rules for Natural Gas, and bookmark the homepage for the entire Drilling Down series by The New York Times.
Recent polls confirm that Americans across the country and political spectrum actually do agree on at least one thing: that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should keep doing its job – and even do more – to set limits on air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, two influential groups feel differently than nearly seven in ten Americans on this issue: Republicans in the House of Representatives and the American Petroleum Institute, a powerful lobbying group representing the oil and gas industry.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the National Lung Association, who represent environmentalists and American lungs, respectively, each released public polls asking whether EPA scientists or Congress should make decisions about pollution limits. A key finding of the National Lung Association poll was that “voters overwhelmingly oppose Congressional action that impedes EPA from updating clean air standards [PPT].
At the same time, Congressional Republicans are claiming a mandate to cut funding for government programs like the EPA. House Republicans almost unanimously voted to prevent the EPA from doing its job – and specifically from enacting regulations on carbon emissions this year - by cutting EPA’s 2011 budget by $3 billion in the spending bill which passed the U.S. House on February 19, 2011. ”This is about listening to our country, listening to the people who just elected this Congress to restore discipline with respect to our spending,” Frank Guinta (R-New Hampshire) said during the debate on the budget legislation. But to whom Republicans are listening should perhaps be up for debate.
An incredible piece just broke in the New York Times showing that hydraulic fracking in the Marcellus Shale is drawing huge amounts of radioactivity up from the earth with the fracking fluids, often going straight through a municipal waste water treatment plant and then dumped into rivers – above public drinking water intake locations. The piece proves that EPA knows this is going on, and that it is likely illegal.
Highly recommended reading for anyone concerned about the real threats posed by this gas industry practice to drinking water, public health and the environment.
While the final EPA hearing is happening today in Tennessee to solicit public input on federal proposals to regulate toxic coal ash, a new report [PDF] from DeSmogBlog and PolluterWatch shows that coal industry lobbyists held dozens of secretive meetings with the White House to peddle their influence long before the Obama administration opened the process to the public.
The coal industry’s influence on the process was largely peddled behind the scenes, beginning over a year ago, when lobbyists representing coal ash producers and users started swarming the White House to protect the coal industry from full responsibility for the potential health and water threats posed by coal ash waste.
The lobbyists’ ability to quickly and easily gain access and influence over the White House’s review of this critical environmental regulation calls into serious question President Obama’s campaign pledge to limit the role of lobbyists in federal decision-making.