“As in Chicago, Obama seems to live in a cocoon in which Republicans are largely absent, offscreen actors that no one pays any attention to. … Two decisions in particular seem tilted toward rich liberals. One was the disapproval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, even after it survived two environmental impact statements. … The other astonishing decision was the decree requiring Catholic hospitals and charities’ health insurance policies to include coverage for abortion and birth control. Here Obama was spitting in the eyes of millions of Americans and threatening the existence of charitable programs that help millions of people of all faiths. … Who’s on the other side? The designer-clad ladies Obama encounters at every fundraiser. They want to impose their views on abortion on everyone else.” – political analyst Michael Barone
Prelude: Despite growing concern about the high costs and minimal benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury, particulate, MACT, cross-state and other air pollution rules, the EPA has pushed forward with numerous rulemakings.
Dr. Willie Soon and I have followed this situation closely and written a number of articles about it. Indeed, Willie is one of the few people who have carefully analyzed EPA’s rulemakings; examined its analyses, assumptions, assertions and conclusions; and scrutinized the agency’s attempted medical and scientific justifications for the rules. Simply put, we vigorously disagree with EPA.
Our latest analysis strongly contests EPA’s methodologies, its latest rulemaking – and its most recent claims that the agency’s expensive “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants” will somehow protect Americans’ health.
Newly proposed air pollution rules impose exorbitant costs for illusory health benefits
In December 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency released new Clean Air Act “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.” Once again, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson touted the supposedly huge benefits of controlling emissions of mercury (Hg) and other air toxics from U.S. coal- and oil-fired power plants (or electric generating units, EGUs).
The people of Idaho may welcome this new rule, since EPA’s miraculous modeling machine has promised to prevent “six premature deaths” and create “up to $54 million” in health benefits by 2016 – even though not one coal-fired EGU in Idaho fits the EPA’s final rules. Even the District of Columbia, which has only one oil-fired unit, will somehow, magically realize “up to $120 million” in health benefits, presumably from new restrictions on coal-fired units in Maryland or Virginia.
The average U.S. citizen, however, can be excused for no longer being willing to be penalized by EPA – the Extreme Punishment Authority – for such minimal, imaginary and manufactured benefits.
In fact, the final rule may be the most expensive one ever devised by EPA. And yet, even EPA admits, the alleged “hazards to public health” from mercury and non-mercury emissions from American EGUs are “anticipated to remain after imposition” of the new regulations.
As to benefits, EPA computer models claim Hg emission cuts will reduce average per person “avoided IQ loss” by an undetectable “0.00209 IQ points,” with estimated “total nationwide benefits” of $500,000 to $6.1 million by 2016. For the electric utility sector, says EPA, net job creation from the rules will be “not statistically different from zero” and could be between minus 15,000 and plus 30,000 jobs.
In fact, the new regulations will likely eliminate tens of thousands of jobs annually, especially in energy-intensive industries that rely on low-cost electricity to survive and face growing competition from foreign companies that pay far less for energy, labor and raw materials. Small businesses will also get hammered.
“EPA cannot certify that there will be no SISNOSE from this rule,” the agency admits. “SISNOSE” is EPA-speak for “significant impacts on a substantial number of small entities.” In other words, the rules are likely to inflict significant economic harm on small businesses, and thus on the health and welfare of numerous (former) small business owners, employees and families. The agency failed to explain why it has once again ignored the adverse impacts on human health and welfare caused by its rules.
EPA also confessed that U.S. power plants actually contribute a mere 3% of the total mercury deposited in computer-modeled American watersheds, and thus in fish tissue. Citizens will justifiably wonder where the other 97% comes from, and why we should spend so much money for so little benefit. (The “missing” mercury comes from foreign sources and from volcanoes, subsea vents and other natural sources.)
To see how extreme EPA’s scenarios are, consider five more egregious errors in the final regulations. First, EPA admitted it could “calculate risk” for only 3,100 (4%) of the continental USA’s 88,000 watersheds.
Second, for over 60% of the 3,100 watersheds it did model, EPA took only one or two fish mercury measurements – making it virtually impossible to adopt even valid 75th-percentile fish mercury values.
There is a breaking point where extremely poor statistical sampling renders EPA’s pretentious number crunching, conclusions and rules invalid. That breaking point has clearly been reached.
Third, the agency’s estimates for mercury exposure risks are solely for “hypothetical female subsistence consumers” who daily eat almost a pound of fish that they themselves catch in U.S. streams, rivers, and lakes over a 70-year lifetime. That’s less than 1% of U.S. women. For the rest of American women (who eat mostly ocean fish, purchased at a grocery, on a far less regular basis), EPA’s rules are irrelevant.
Fourth, EPA admits that only 22 to 29% of its computer-modeled watersheds are “at risk” from EGU mercury, even when it erroneously assumed that at least 5% of total Hg deposition into the watersheds came from U.S. power plants. If the modeling criteria were tweaked only slightly – to reflect average freshwater fish consumption rates for American women, and require that at least 15% of total mercury deposition be attributable to EGUs – not one U.S. watershed would be at risk.
Finally, EPA ignores the presence of selenium in nearly all fish. Its strong attraction to mercury molecules protects fish and people against buildups of methylmercury (MeHg), mercury’s biologically active and more toxic form.
Combining any series of small probability scenarios results in a near-zero likelihood that the events will actually happen. If each of five scenarios has only a 20% chance of happening, the likelihood that all five will happen is 0.032 percent.
As the preceding analysis suggests, the probability that all the EPA’s improbable scenarios will actually happen is virtually zero; the likelihood that its new regulations will benefit human health is also zero.
However, EPA still stubbornly “disagrees that [mercury] exposure levels in the U.S. are lower than those in the Faroe Islands.” Exposure to MeHg in the U.S. is “the same” as in the Faroe Islands, EPA insists.
The agency is simply wrong.
Extensive medical and scientific studies demonstrate that average Americans are exposed to at least 5 to 10 times less MeHg than average Faroe Islanders. The islanders consume large quantities of pilot whale meat and blubber – which is high in methylmercury, high in PCBs and low in selenium. As a result, their blood mercury concentrations can be up to 350 times higher than the mean blood mercury levels measured by the Centers for Disease Control for average American women.
The Faroe Islands study is irrelevant to mercury exposure risk for average Americans. EPA’s use of that study is deceptive. American women and children are safe from any likely threats from mercury.
To top it off, EPA itself proclaims: “The emissions limits in today’s rule are technology-based … and do not need to be justified based on their ability to protect public health.”
In other words, if the technology exists to eliminate these pollutants, the agency will impose the new regulations – regardless of their cost, their effect on electricity prices and reliability, their impact on factory and other jobs, and whether the rules actually do little or nothing to improve human health.
It has become increasingly obvious that EPA’s real goal is to assert its authority over ever-increasing segments of our economy; reinterpret medical and scientific studies to fit its regulatory agenda; and replace as many coal-fired power plants as possible with costly, unreliable renewable energy systems.
American voters, elected officials and courts need to challenge these radical, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, demand an end to EPA’s distortion of science and reality – and reverse these flawed rules.
Willie Soon is a natural scientist with strong interest in mercury and public health issues. Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality.
Ah, the left-wing capacity for rationalization knows no bounds. While we’re told that even substantive criticism of Barack Obama is driven by the hatefulness the left has dubbed “racism,” a racial attack by three black teenagers on two white men in Philadelphia this past Monday is, somehow, not.
Consider the scenario, and then tell me why we even have “hate-crime” laws. Wrote Stephanie Farr at Philly.com:
About 8:25 p.m., a cab was stopped at a red light at 15th and Chestnut streets when two 17-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy approached and started calling the male passenger in the back seat racially derogatory names, police said.
The boys then threw an unknown liquid at the cab before they opened the door, pulled the passenger out and started to pummel him, police said.
The cab driver, Brian Goldman, then exited his vehicle, perhaps to lend assistance, at which point the passenger ran off and the thugs turned their racial wrath on the cabbie. Despite the three-on-one odds and having suffered some physical injuries, Goldman was able to retrieve a tire iron from his trunk, at which point the brave lads ran off. They were later apprehended by the police.
And now we have an update: The lowlifes will not be charged with a hate crime.
Writes Farr in a follow-up piece:
The teens, who are black, were not charged with hate crimes because there was no evidence that the assault had been motivated by the race of the victims, who are white, said Tasha Jamerson, D.A. spokeswoman. Just shouting racial epithets during the commission of a crime doesn’t rise to the level of ethnic intimidation, she said.
“They just didn’t have that in this case,” she said. “If they had somebody who, two blocks before, heard them say, ‘We’re going to beat somebody up because they’re white, brown or purple,’ it might be different.”
Yes, certain things might make it different. One that leaps to mind is if the races of the assailants and the victims had been reversed. Perhaps Tasha Jamerson would have needed a notarized affidavit stating, “We, the party in the first part, declare that we shall attack the party in the second part driven by egregious racial animus directed toward members of the Caucasoid race.”
But, hey, we can always hope that Obama will weigh in and opine that the D.A. “acted stupidly.”
I’ve written a lot in the past about these hate-crime double standards, but have nothing more to say here. The story speaks for itself.
Contact Selwyn Duke
President Obama spent more than $85 billion bailing out General Motors and Chrysler three years ago. Now he claims credit for saving the industry, noting GM’s recent return to the top sales spot among automakers worldwide, Ford’s record profits (albeit achieved without federal funds), and the recent revival of Chrysler, (though Italy’s Fiat owns it). Regardless whether you supported or opposed the government bailouts, the reality is the Big Three’s assembly lines are humming again. Too bad Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is preparing yet another killer hike in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, only this time instead of merely inflicting massive costs on the industry and consumers, the coming regulation could very well demolish the Big Three for good.
Here’s why: The CAFE rule is the fleet-wide average fuel economy rating manufacturers are required by Washington to achieve. The new rule — issued in response to a 2010 Obama directive, not to specific legislation passed by Congress — would require automakers to achieve a 40.9 mpg CAFE average by 2021 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. In case you’re wondering whatever happened to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it has been supplanted in the CAFE process by the EPA.