Google, the search giant with the famous motto: “Don’t be evil,” is boasting about its involvement in a 2012 coal industry lobbying effort to block the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ability to protect the public from dangerous and potentially lethal coal plant emissions, according to a recently discovered Google case study.
In February 2012, long time coal industry supporter, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution proposing the elimination of the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for power plants. The emissions from coal-fired power plants are the largest human-caused sources of the neurotoxin mercury, arsenic, cyanide, and a range of other dangerous pollutants, according to the EPA. Inhofe's proposal was ultimately voted down in the Senate by a vote of 53 to 46.
Legislative and policy experts close to the issue said that if Inhofe's proposal had been passed, it would have removed vitally important public health protections more than two decades in the making that every year prevent up to:
- 11,000 premature deaths;
- nearly 5,000 heart attacks;
- 130,000 asthma attacks;
- 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and
- 540,000 days when people miss work and school
The EPA regulations, approved under President Obama, are designed to reduce emissions of mercury and other pollution up to 90 percent by requiring plant owners to install pollution control mechanisms. Energy companies oppose the regulations for being too costly. The lobbying campaign was initiated by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), whose membership includes electric utilities such as Southern Company and American Electric Power, two of largest air-borne mercury polluters in the country.
A Google promotional document, Four Screens to Victory [PDF], describes Google's involvement in the 2012 election cycle, and specifically highlights its role in garnering support for Inhofe's proposal to abolish the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: