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