The Environmental Spectator

Indefensible

The EPA and its eco-litigator friends are stooping to new lows to push their toxic agenda.

By 7.27.11

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Steve Milloy of JunkScience.com last week reported in the Washington Times about a deceptive pair of ads by Environmental Defense Fund. The ads, which criticized Ohio-based utility American Electric Power, portrayed children and the pre-born as threatened by AEP's attempt to block "new clean air rules."

One of the ads shows a hospitalized child wearing a nebulizer facemask and automatic chest compressor. As Milloy explained, "The ad is a total put-on. Moreover, asthma attacks aren't treated with chest-compression devices, which are instead more typically used for cardiopulmonary resuscitation."

The second ad, which also attacks AEP, shows an ultrasound image of a child in-utero as a narrator explains how "the developing fetus and young children are thought to be disproportionately affected by mercury exposure…" And the point is? Is the mother gulping down 12 cans of tuna fish a day?

The manufactured problems highlighted by EDF (total net assets at the end of Fiscal Year 2009: $132 million) at AEP's expense are undoubtedly part of a partnership with EPA to leave the regulatory agency financially unscathed. The bill that EDF so strenuously objects to reduces EPA funding by 18 percent, and its funding for climate change programs by 22 percent. This not only cuts into EPA's police power, but also has the potential to harm an EDF cash flow that it enjoys by recovering its attorney fees after suing EPA. As former Bush EPA official Jeffrey Holmstead explained to Investor’s Business Daily recently, "The EPA isn't harmed by these suits. Often the suits involve things the EPA wants to do anyway. By inviting a lawsuit and then signing a consent decree, the agency gets legal cover from political heat."

This not only threatens the friendly deals that EDF and other eco-litigators (like Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council) perpetrate, but it could threaten the healthy revenue flow of their top executives (EDF President Fredd Krupp's 2009 compensation: $423,359). So now you get Krupp challenging AEP publicly with unverifiable and grossly misleading statistics such as, "How many lives are you willing to sacrifice? Because in the first two years alone, according to EPA, your bill would cost 34,000 lives and lead to 220,000 asthma attacks."

As Milloy wrote:

There is no evidence that ambient levels of mercury or mercury emissions from U.S. power plants have harmed anyone. In any event, nature is responsible for the vast majority of mercury emissions (70 percent), while U.S. power plants are responsible for less than 1 percent of global emissions.

The EPA says air pollution kills tens of thousands of people annually. This is on a par with traffic accident fatalities. While we can identify traffic accident victims, air pollution victims are unknown, unidentified and (as far as anyone can tell) figments of EPA's statistical imagination.

What is certain is that it is unreasonable to allow EPA to continue with its unaccountable reduction of acceptable particulate levels well below what is needed to protect human health and the environment, or to consider EPA's proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions -- which have not been identified by scientists as showing inordinate harm to the environment.

Even more certain is that the effect of EPA's excessive regulations -- in the context of the Obama Administration's overall policy initiative to create a "new energy economy" with loads of new "Green" jobs -- are failures. In fact, EPA has ignored the president's executive order from earlier this year that required all agencies to calculate the affects of proposed regulations on job creation.

Worse, EPA and its partners in environoia at EDF focus on artificial fatality numbers that it cannot prove, while ignoring the real harms caused by excessive regulatory costs as explained in academic risk journals. Believe it or not, EPA’s own literature from the Clinton era states:

People's wealth and health status, as measured by mortality, morbidity, and other metrics, are positively correlated. Hence, those who bear a regulation's compliance costs may also suffer a decline in their health status, and if the costs are large enough, these increased risks might be greater than the direct risk-reduction benefits of the regulation.

For example, a study by my colleagues at American Tradition Institute ties economic costs from a potential national clean energy standard (proposed by President Obama in his State of the Union speech this year) to premature deaths due to losses in employment and income. The higher the costs of the regulation (which in this case, would mandate higher electric bills and therefore less disposable income for health needs) were, the greater the number of premature deaths and health risks.

Even President Obama's regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, in his book Laws of Fear, wrote that "an expensive regulation can have adverse effects on life and health."

Unfortunately, those kinds of facts get lost when sweetheart deals between environmental extremists and government regulators are at stake.

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About the Author

Paul Chesser publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, a news aggregator for North Carolina, and is a contributor of articles, research and investigative reports for both national and state-level free-market think tanks.