The Debate On Mercury Emission Standards

Share this...
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter

Scott Portman

No, I’m not becoming a warmist or a tree-hugger. But I am pleased to give environmentally concerned citizens the microphone here.

The following is from Scott Portman of Atlanta, who politely asked to have his essay published here. It’s about the EPA and regulating mercury. I’m in favour of reducing mercury emissions, as long as the benefits outweigh the costs. I think Scott here will very much appreciate your comments.
========================================

The Debate On Mercury Emission Standards

by Scott Portmann
The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has recently proposed the first-ever national standards for mercury and other air pollutants. The agency’s proposed standards are meant to regulate coal fired power plants in the US. They currently believe that with the new regulations, public health will be dramatically improved on a global level; in the US alone, they project that 17,000 premature deaths from lung diseases, such as mesothelioma, will be prevented. The standards, in addition, will prevent a whopping 11,000 heart attacks and 120,000 cases of childhood asthma.

The administrator of the US EPA, Lisa Jackson, confirmed her belief on the subject, claiming in a statement:

With the help of existing technologies, we will be able to take reasonable steps that will provide dramatic protections to our children and loved ones, preventing premature deaths, heart attacks, and asthma attacks”

It is possible that these new standards might be a result of the recent pressure the EPA has come under, due to a lot of pushback from the Republican Party. They hold the belief that the EPA is hurting the global economy with their rigid regulations. In an attempt to try to reign in the EPA, Republican lawmakers have targeted the agency’s climate rules. In their attempt, these new mercury standards have come under fire, too.

Currently, the technology exists to make this environmental goal a reality. Just by installing the regulating systems, power plants could effectively lower a slew of harmful emissions. US President Barack Obama has even issued an executive order that mandates the EPA to make sure their regulations are cost effective and not overly burdensome to industry. In response to that, the EPA has claimed that their standards are so cost-effective that for every $1 spent, the public will see $13 in benefits.

As to be expected, there are opponents to the EPA’s mercury regulations. Some believe that the standards would impose major economic burdens to manufacturing companies, costing many people their jobs. In the current economic climate, they raise a legitimate concern. They believe that the expenses will be passed on to consumers, who will face higher electricity bills.

On the flipside, if the standards pass the public will most definitely see increased health benefits. Thousands will live longer, and even more will breathe easier. Perhaps most importantly, the environment will be safeguarded and it will be a step towards preventing climate change. Toxic mercury will be reduced from bodies of water, and as a result, fish will be safer to eat. With fewer illnesses, there will be fewer expenses due to hospital and doctor visits as well. The money saved from collateral costs will most likely outweigh any additional electricity costs. It just seems that the positive aspects of the mercury standards far outweigh the negatives.

==================================================
A health, safety, and political advocate with a passion for economics, Scott Portman is an aspiring journalist who currently resides in the South East United States

Share this...
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter

17 responses to “The Debate On Mercury Emission Standards”

  1. Jimbo

    “They currently believe that with the new regulations, public health will be dramatically improved on a global level; in the US alone, they project that 17,000 premature deaths from lung diseases, such as mesothelioma, will be prevented. The standards, in addition, will prevent a whopping 11,000 heart attacks and 120,000 cases of childhood asthma.”

    Is any of the above based on peer reviewed research or is it based on what they “believe”?

    On a side note I do vaguely recall that pollution is generally on the decline in the USA.

    “…………the US Environmental Protection Agency reported a decline of 25% from 1970 to 2001 in 6 principal air pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter.”
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/27584383/Actual-Causes-of-Death-2000-1

    I have no other more recent figures but it would not surprise me if that trend continued.

    1. DirkH

      Part of the decline should be caused by the transfer of factories to China. But you can’t move the power plants so installing scrubbers would accelerate the decline of air pollution.

    2. Ben Palmer

      “The standards, in addition, will prevent a whopping 11,000 heart attacks and 120,000 cases of childhood asthma.”
      Sounds pretty much like “Smoking bans reduce heart attacks by 40%”, when hospital admission figures show no such effect. But these figures always sound scary and are therefore used to push agendas.

  2. Bob in Castlemaine

    Yes Pierre it would be good to have credible independent cost benefit studies done before considering more strict emission regulation. Particularly so when one considers the EPA and Lisa Jackson’s track record of ideological zealotry.

  3. DirkH

    Reducing mercury emissions makes good sense IMHO. The device is called a HCI absorber; it seems, and removes mercury from flue gas.
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rauchgasreinigung

    The US need to find a way to push through the meaningful measures like flue gas scrubbing and avoid the useless, prohibitively expensive, unproven measures like CO2 capture. I don’t have numbers but the improvement in public health probably outweighs the cost of the scrubbers. Lomborg’s Sceptical Environmentalist probably contains numbers for this. Don’t have my copy with me ATM…

  4. Ed Caryl

    For a good summary of mercury in the environment, read this:
    http://my.epri.com/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_1630_405_228188_43/http%3B/myepri10%3B80/EPRIDocumentAccess/popup.aspx?DeepLinking=false/000000000001014425
    As usual, the EPA is trying to solve a problem that arises in China.

  5. R. de Haan

    I don’t think mercury is a big problem in the West.

    I think EPA is using the Mecury reduction as a door to abandon the use of coal and CO2 emissions reduction.

    This is what strikes me, I quote: “Perhaps most importantly, the environment will be safeguarded and it will be a step towards preventing climate change”.

    This is the usual Earth Day bla, bla, bla that shows the true ideologic mindset of the author.

    I say stick this plan where the sun don’t shines and promote the use of electricity based on affordable fuels including coal and help to set the same coal power plant standards that we now enjoy in Europe and the USA where life expectancy continues to rise.

    That will really save the lives of millions allowing to escape poeverty and that’s much more effective than cutting down the living standards in the West.

    1. DirkH

      “I don’t think mercury is a big problem in the West.”

      Ron, we have mandatory flue gas scrubbers in our power plants. I don’t know what the situation is in the US but i think it’s not mandatory everywhere. If any Americans can tell us more about it…

    2. Jimbo

      Perhaps most importantly, the environment will be safeguarded and it will be a step towards preventing climate change.

      Sorry mate but I DON’T want to prevent climate change. ;O)

      Have you ever wondered why they dumped global warming and took on climate change. It’s because there was a lack of warming. Do some digging!

      “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.”
      [Phil Jones in 2005 – CRU emails]

      Roger Harrabin – “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present [2010] there has been no statistically-significant global warming”

      Phil Jones – “Yes, but only just.”
      [BBC Interview in February, 2010]

      http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

  6. R. de Haan

    ‘preventing premature deaths, heart attacks, and asthma attacks’

    If any measure has caused an explosion of asthma attacks and strong allergic reactions it is the latest trend of insulation of housing.

    Bad ventilation and moist cause an explosive growth of fungi, which has sky rocket the number of people suffering from asthma and lung related diseases to an epidemic level in Europe and the US.

    Most of you don’t realize it but EPA is out there to kill you and the economy.

  7. R. de Haan

    @ Pierre

    The fact is we have the solutions available for years now and they have to apply them as a standard.

    So what’s the ideological BS all about?

  8. DirkH

    O/T Greenpeace makes boring board games. (1991) Random find; but too good to keep for myself.
    http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/20607/no-time-to-waste

    1. DirkH

      The EU as well. Well in this case the maker of the game is not the EU itself but maybe they got some propaganda funding, who knows, there’s a lot of dosh going round for that.
      http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/295/europa-1945-2030
      “When a country’s threshold of resistance is equaled by the number of delegates, the country is eligible to enter the Union, assuming the players can come to an agreement.”

  9. Jerry F

    Like most of the visitors to this site, I am keenly interested in protecting our environment. I am also, however, very concerned about misappropriation of effort and resources relating to that protection.

    I like to be constructive and usually do not comment when people say stupid things. Unfortunately, your viewpoint loses all credibility when you include the nonsensical statement:

    “….it will be a step towards preventing climate change.”

    My feelings: If you didn’t do your homework on that, how can I trust you on the other matters that you discuss? Where did you pull that one out of?

    You state, “Thousands will live longer, and even more will breathe easier.” This must be based on the “The standards, in addition, will prevent a whopping 11,000 heart attacks and 120,000 cases of childhood asthma.” I don’t believe you can establish a connection between mercury emissions under current standards and the stated causation of 11,000 heart attacks and 120,000 cases of childhood asthma. If you can, you should have!
    As a piece of journalism, this essay seems to be pandering to what you perceive to be your audience’s biases. That makes you biased. That’s fine, if that is your intent – you just have to choose the right venue if you wish to be applauded. However, if your intent is to sway those who may be sceptical of the usefulness of the regulation, I would suggest that you construct your argument on facts rather than opinion. Your cited “statistics” are not facts based on sound science.
    There is no “sin” in being biased but there is one in being mistaken. If you have a lifelong philosophy of “never make a mistake” you will always do your homework on a subject and thus make very few mistakes.
    As a regular visiter to the notrickszone, I look to this site for insight into journalistic distortion of environmental science. Keep up the fine work along those lines. Come back in five or ten years and let us know how it is working out for you.

  10. Mike Davis

    My home power bill went up 25% because of new regulations to clean the air! At least that is the claim by TVA!

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. More information at our Data Privacy Policy

Close