Monday, March 14, 2005

EPA: Allowing "Swaps" of Neurotoxin Pollution

Minimata. The name probably does not mean much to most people. A famous photo helped change many people's views on Mercury pollution.

As reported, Japanese citizens suffered by the thousands due to mercury pollution in Minimata Bay:
The government officially recognizes 2,265 victims - 1,435 already dead - of the dumpings in the bay in southern Japan, where chemical maker Chisso Corp. had been pouring tons of mercury compounds since in the 1930s.

Some victims died after eating mercury-tainted fish, while others suffered spasms and blurred vision. Babies of poisoned mothers were born with gnarled limbs. Reports of victims began appearing in the 1950s.

Another 15,000 people have registered with the government as victims of mercury poisoning - but that number could more than double under new research that suggests weaker concentrations of the chemical than previously thought can cause brain damage and birth defects.

The low levels of mercury required to induce disastrous effects have only been recently been appreciated. The article continues:
The government's original benchmark had been mercury levels of 50 parts per million detected in people's hair. But Ekino's research indicates that levels as low as 10 parts per million can stunt the brain's cerebral cortex, the area responsible for speaking, thinking and voluntary movement.
Well what has the Environmental Protection Agency been doing about Mercury Pollution? This is a picture of Stephen Johnson the new EPA chief with President Bush.

It is not difficult to see how insensitive this Administration has been to the environment. As reported:
Tough court fights loom on his easing of rules that require older industrial plants and refineries to add pollution controls if they expand. Under court order, the EPA is due to introduce by March the first national cap on mercury emissions.

Bush plans to cut spending on low-interest loans for local clean water projects and to seek more federal support for development of a hydrogen-fueled car.

He also wants to overturn a Clinton-era ban on 58 million acres of roadless areas and allow logging and road-building in them unless governors petition the federal government to preserve them. He would keep Yellowstone National Park open to snowmobiling, despite a challenge in federal court.
But back to Mercury. Today, the EPA announced a new plan for pollution "swaps" among utilities whereby some could cut back their mercury pollution, while others make no changes. This was made possible, as reported:
To justify the new approach, the administration reversed a decision by the Clinton administration to list mercury as a "hazardous air pollutant." That allowed for greater flexibility in designing emission controls and made possible a trading system to mesh with the EPA rule issued last week to control emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, said Scott Segal, a spokesman for the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents a number of coal-fired utilities.
But why have swaps at all? If Mercury is a potent neurotoxin:
Susan West Marmagas, environment and health program director at the group Physicians for Social Responsibility, said 630,000 babies each year in the United States are at risk of mercury toxicity and 1 in 12 American women who could become pregnant have heightened risk of mercury toxicity.
why not limit Mercury pollution at every power plant?

The EPA spokesperson stated:
Bergman said that the competing approach -- to reduce mercury at every plant -- could indeed produce dramatic results, but she said it depends on the flawed assumption that the technology is available to make sharp cuts at every plant. She said such technology will not be ready for several years.
However, environmentalists see things differently:
At a press briefing yesterday by several environmental groups, John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, contested Bergman's claim about the lack of available technology and said the real purpose of the rule is to invite litigation and "years and years and years of delay" in instituting mercury controls. "This is the most dishonest, dangerous and illegal rule I have ever seen come out of the EPA," he said.
Well what about John Kerry? As described:
As president, John Kerry has pledged to reverse the Bush-Cheney rollbacks to our Clean Air Act, plug loopholes in the law, take aggressive action to stop acid rain, and use innovative, job-creating programs to reduce mercury emissions and other emissions that contribute to global warming.
America cannot afford to have "swaps" of dangerous neurotoxin pollution. America deserves better! America deserves John Kerry!



Blogger dadahead said...

Hey, as long as we don't allow kids to be exposed to erototoxins, we're okay.

8:09 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home