Can We Trust The EPA? Part I— Mercury

Enforcement of an EPA regulation that would shut down many, if not all, of the US coal based power plants has been stopped by the Supreme Court.

The Science and Environmental  Policy Project  reports:

“By a 5 to 4 vote, the US Supreme Court overturned a decision by a lower Austin power-plantcourt enforcing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rules on Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) released from power plants. . Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that it was not appropriate for the EPA “to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.” The EPA argued that it factored in cost later in the process of crafting the rules, even though the EPA has failed to calculate costs of some of its earlier regulations. In fact, the EPA has long publically asserted that it is not required to include the costs of regulations under the Clean Air Act.”

There it is. The EPA says it isn’t required to factor in the cost of regulations. That is convenient in that they believe that they can do any thing they think is appropriate.

Lets look at the EPA reasoning behind the MATS regulations and see if the regulations are really needed.    Lets look first at mercury (Hg) emissions  which they say are bad for the children. How do they know that? Some actual data on Hg from “Bogus Mercury Scare Used To Shutdown Coal Electricity Generating Plants“:

Mercury Emissions – Natural and Man-Made

Source Emission Quantity, Mg/Year % of Total
Natural 5207 69
Manmade 2320 31
            TOTAL 7527 100
North American Coal Plants 65 0.9

 Data From Global mercury emissions to the atmosphere from anthropogenic and natural sources” Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 5951–5964, 2010 by N. Pirrone, S. Cinnirella, X. Feng, et al.

The  total mercury emissions from the North American coal-based plants are less than one per cent of global emissions!!  So the effect on the health of people in the US through reduction of some fraction of the coal-based plants mercury emissions is essentially too small to measure.  Even if they had data showing that Hg was causing a problem, shutting down US coal-based plants to reduce Hg would likely not have any measurable effect at all.

Tests of communities where fish is the main staple in the diet have not shown any measurable IQ problems in the children—(see Bogus Mercury Scare Used To Shutdown Coal Electricity Generating Plants above).  Pat Michaels gave a talk at the 10th International Conference on Climate Change where he reported the EPA,  developed their cost model using a hypothetical group of 240,000 women that would give birth to a child. From this they claimed to have calculated the harm caused by Hg to our nation’s children. Because some fish do accumulate Hg, this pretend group of women would pretend to each eat 300 pounds of fish per year. Almost a pound per day on average.

The EPA decided that each child had a resulting loss  of 0.00209 IQ points. And they calculated that loss of IQ would yield a $1425/per year loss in income per child. The grand total loss annually for the nation would be $3,350,000. If you are not rolling on the floor laughing your behind off, I am very surprised. Only hypothetical people in the US eat 300 lbs of fish per year. IQ scores have a +/- 10 points 95 % confidence level. And the EPA has audacity to think that a 0.00209 IQ loss can actually be measured and used to provide meaningful data?

So much for the Hg scare.

Next we will look at the secrete science behind the EPA’s claim that certain air toxics are potential killers. But that will take up some more words so it will be saved for part two.



3 responses to “Can We Trust The EPA? Part I— Mercury

  1. Pingback: Greens Want To Kill Fracking By Slashing, Already Minor, Methane Emissions | Climate Change Sanity

  2. Pingback: Drain The EPA Swamp—Part 2- Secret Science | Climate Change Sanity

  3. Pingback: Cap And Trade Group (RGGI) Overstates Its Accomplishments | Climate Change Sanity

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