The myth of killer mercury By Willie Soon and Paul Driessen

EPA: Environmental Propaganda Activists

New rules use doctored evidence to cause economic pain and impair human health

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued 946 pages of new rules, requiring that U.S. power plants sharply reduce (already low) emissions of mercury and 83 other air pollutants. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims that, while the regulations will cost electricity producers $10.9 billion annually, they will save 17,000 lives and generate up to $140 billion in health benefits.

There is no factual basis for these assertions. To build its case, EPA systematically ignored evidence and ignored clinical studies that contradict its regulatory agenda, which is to punish hydrocarbon use.

Mercury (Hg) has always existed naturally in Earth’s environment. A 2009 study found numerous spikes (and drops) in mercury deposition in Antarctic ice over the past 650,000-years. Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and in trees, which absorb it from the environment. This is why our bodies evolved with proteins and antioxidants that help protect us from this and other potential contaminants.

A further defense comes from selenium, which is found in fish and animals. Its strong attraction to mercury molecules protects fish and people against buildups of methylmercury, mercury’s biologically active and more toxic form. Thus, the 200,000,000 tons of mercury naturally present in seawater have never posed a danger to any living being, even though they could theoretically be converted into methylmercury.

Modern technologies enable us to detect infinitesimal amounts in air and water. However, quantities of mercury measured in lake waters are often no more than 0.00000001 gram of mercury per liter. Lab technicians typically wear special garments when measuring mercury levels, not to protect themselves – but to ensure accurate measurements, because even breathing on a sample can triple a reading!

How do America’s coal-burning power plants enter into the picture?

The latest government, university and independent studies reveal that those power plants emit an estimated 41-48 tons of mercury per year. However, US forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tpy; Chinese power plants eject 400 tpy; and volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other sources spew out 9,000-10,000 additional tons per year!

All these emissions enter the global atmospheric system and become part of the US air mass.

Thus, US power plants account for less than 0.5% of all the mercury in the air Americans breathe. Even eliminating every milligram of this mercury will do nothing about the other 99.5% in America’s atmosphere.

And yet, in the face of these minuscule risks, EPA nevertheless demands that utility companies spend billions every year retrofitting coal-fired power plants that produce half of all US electricity, and 70-98% of electricity in twelve states. Its regulators simultaneously ignore the positive results of medical studies that clearly show its new restrictions are not needed and will not improve people’s health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which actively monitors mercury exposure, blood mercury counts for US women and children decreased steadily 1999-2008, placing today’s counts well below the already excessively “safe” level established by EPA.

A 17-year evaluation of mercury risk to babies and children, by the Seychelles Children Development Study, found “no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects” in children who eat several servings of ocean fish every week, much more than most Americans do.

The World Health Organization and US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry assessed these findings in setting mercury risk standards that are 2-3 times less restrictive than EPA’s. Under WHO and ATSDR guidelines, no American children are even remotely at risk from mercury.

EPA ignored these findings. Instead, the agency based its “safe” mercury criteria on a study of Faroe Islanders, whose diet is far removed from our own. They eat few fruits and vegetables, but do feast on pilot whale meat and blubber that is laced with mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – but very low in selenium. The study has limited relevance to US populations.

Finally, EPA maintains that mercury deposition, its conversion to methylmercury, and MeHg accumulation in fish and humans is a simple process that can be controlled by curtailing emissions from US power plants. However, mercury emissions (from all sources) and raw mercury levels in fresh or ocean waters are only part of the story.

Complex, nonlinear interactions among at least 50 natural variables control the biological and chemical processes that govern elemental mercury conversion to methylmercury and MeHg accumulation in fish. Those variables, and selenium levels in fish tissue, are beyond anyone’s ability to control.

As a result, the EPA’s actions can be counted on to achieve only one thing – which is to further advance the Obama administration’s oft-stated goal of penalizing hydrocarbon use, making coal-based electricity prices “skyrocket,” and driving a transition to unreliable renewable energy.

The proposed standards will do nothing to reduce exaggerated threats from mercury and other air pollutants. Indeed, the rules will worsen, rather than improve America’s health – especially for young children and women of child-bearing age. Not only will they raise heating, air conditioning and food costs; they will scare people away from nutritious fish that should be in everyone’s diet.

America needs affordable, reliable electricity. It needs better health and nutrition. It needs an EPA that focuses on real risks, instead of wasting hard-earned taxpayer and consumer dollars fabricating dangers and evidence.
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Willie Soon is a natural scientist with strong expertise in mercury and public health issues. Dr. Soon’s full critique of EPA’s rules will be published at http://www.AffordablePowerAlliance.org/ in mid-June.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality.

“The myth of killer mercury” was originally published in the Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2011. See:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703421204576329420414284558.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop#articleTabs%3Darticle

The Collapse of a Rotten Edifice by Victor Davis Hanson

Nemesis is always hot on the trail of hubris, across time and space, and the goddess has been particularly busy in destroying the carefully crafted images of Bono, John Edwards, Timothy Geithner, Al Gore, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Anthony Weiner, and a host of others. What do their tax hypocrisies, sexual indulgences, and aristocratic socialist lifestyles all have in common?

Collectively, they represent a self-appointed or elected global elite that oversees, lectures about — in sanctimonious fashion — the ethical responsibilities of the redistributive state. Bono and his ensemble may be the highest paid rock group in the world, the most eager to shake a finger at Western governments on their moral duties to help the less fortunate. He is a pop icon always ready to fault the consumerist Western lifestyle. But Bono and his pals are quite determined to avoid Irish tax laws to ensure more of their hard-won capitalist profits so necessary to support their global lifestyles, at a time when their alma mater is broke and unable to fund its once ample entitlements.

Little need be said any more about Al Gore, his homes, his private jetting, his hyping Armageddon on his way to a billion-dollar eco-empire other than that he is a totem for a sophisticated, wealthy class of Westerners who find psychological penance for their own lavish lives by making others less fortunate feel miserable about getting up in the morning and driving to work or taking a hot shower. In that regard, his carbon credit/offset schemes were medieval indulgences to the core. “Crazed sex poodle” indeed — or so the masseuse claimed.

John Edwards built a mansion, replete with a 3,000 foot “John’s Room” playhouse in the compound’s inner sanctum, as he oversaw a University of North Carolina center with the pompous title “The Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.” The more he posed with his cancer-stricken wife, the more he spun lies to hide his tawdry relationship, all subsidized by someone else’s money.

Read more from Pajamas Media

Fanniegate: Gamechanger For The GOP? By Walter Russell Mead

Democrats, watch out.

The Republican Party and especially its Tea Party wing have just acquired a new weapon of mass destruction — and it has nothing to do with any of Congressman Wiener’s rogue body parts. If they deploy this weapon effectively in the next election cycle — a big if — then they have the biggest opportunity to move the country rightward since Ronald Reagan took the oath of office back in 1981.

The Tea Party WMD stockpile is currently stored in book form: Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. By Gretchen Morgenson, one of America’s best business journalists who is currently at The New York Times, and noted financial analyst Joshua Rosner, Reckless Endangerment gives the best available account of how the growing chaos in the mortgage and personal finance markets and the rampant bundling of dubious loans into exotically toxic securities plunged the world, and millions of American families, into the gravest financial crisis since World War Two. It is gripping reading as well, and its explanations are clear enough that readers without any background in finance will have no trouble following the plot. The villains? An unholy alliance between Wall Street, the Democratic establishment, community organizing groups like ACORN and La Raza, and politicians like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cisneros. (Frank got a cushy job for a lover, Pelosi got a job and layoff protection for a son, Cisneros apparently got a license to mint money bilking Mexican-Americans of their life savings in cheesy housing developments.)

If the GOP can make this narrative mainstream, and put this picture into the heads of voters nationwide, the Democrats are toast. The party will have to reinvent itself (or as often happens in American politics, be rescued by equally stupid Republican missteps) before it can flourish.

If Morgenstern and Rosner are to be believed, the American dream didn’t die of old age; it was murdered and most of the fingerprints on the corpse come from Democratic insiders. Democratic power brokers stoked the housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the increasingly rampant corruption and incompetence at Fannie Mae and the associated predatory lenders who sheltered under its umbrella; core Democratic ideas may well be at fault.

Read more from The American Interest

Disapproval Won’t Be Easy for Obama to Reverse By Peter Wehner

Here are a few more political data points that are keeping David Axelrod up late at night:

    • According to USA Today, President Obama’s approval rating on handling the issue Americans care about most, the economy, has dipped to 37 percent. A majority believes Obama doesn’t deserve to be reelected. Fifty-five percent of Americans believe the nation is in recession or depression, despite the fact that the recession officially ended almost two years ago. Just 22 percent are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States, which is significantly more negative than the nation’s mood at this point in the first terms of the past four presidents who managed to win reelection (Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush). Among the three-quarters of Americans who are dissatisfied, President Obama’s rating is at a dangerously low 35 percent. And liberals by nearly two-to-one see him as more conservative than they expected while conservatives by more than three-to-one see him as more liberal.

    • By a two-to-one margin, Americans say the country is pretty seriously on the wrong track, according to a Washington Post poll. Nine in 10 continue to rate the economy in negative terms. Nearly six in 10 say the economy has not started to recover. About six in 10 of those surveyed give Obama negative marks on the economy and the deficit, with nearly half strongly disapproving of his performance in these two crucial areas. Nearly two-thirds of political independents disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy, including, for the first time, a slim majority who do so strongly. And as the Post puts it, “In another indicator of rapidly shifting views on economic issues, 45 percent trust congressional Republicans over the president when it comes to dealing with the economy, an 11-point improvement for the GOP since March.” (Forty-two percent side with Obama on this issue).

These trends, long in the making, won’t be easily reversed. The only thing that can do it is the kind of sustained economic growth we have not seen during the Obama era. A genuinely strong recovery may begin soon. For the sake of the Obama presidency, it better.

Source: Commentary Magazine

Experts warn that UK wind farms may run out of… wind

According to the UK’s government statistics, 13 of the past 16 months have been less windy than average – while 2010 was the “stillest” year of the decade. Furthermore, meteorologists warn that a shift in the Atlantic jet stream could alter wind patterns over the next 40 years, leaving many of the UK’s power-generating turbines without sufficient wind.

Read more here…

SideBear: Do they really mean … they are going to run out of energy.