Anatomy of a Reg Deferred

By Keith Kloor | March 18, 2011 3:51 pm

John Collins Rudolf provides an ugly, but necessary deconstruction.

That it would take more than 20 years for federal regulators to finally propose toxic emissions standards for the power industry is testament to both the slow wheels of bureaucracy and the clout of the nation’s utility and coal interests, which bitterly “” and for years, successfully “” fought the controls, even as other industries bowed under.

This is a story with a familiar history.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: air pollution
MORE ABOUT: air pollution, coal
  • StuartR

    I read the linked article which I think I am right in saying was by our host here a while back,  reviewing some books about toxicity.

    I see the review picked up on many things to say about disparate subjects in the toxicity realm with a seeming scattergun  focus. It had a verse like form, but kept referring back to lead for the chorus.

    Lead is one of the most pernicious chronic toxic elements that even I think I know about. Hell, even the Romans may have realised too late it was bad before they were overran by organically fed vigorous Visigoths.

    There are so many riffs in that article, but I liked this one:

    “Gasoline ads went so far as to equate lead with vitamins, portraying children in cars eating fruits and vegetables.”

    Making some logical leap there surely?  I see gas ads today claiming many weird things like you will be liberated in often arbitrary tangential ways without considering all the negative possibilities.

    But how about a positive? Transport is making fuit more available. Was that offsetting toxic effects even then? Are Exxon saying to you to get fruit you must put up with lead, and we will always use lead in gasoline evermore to do that? Discuss.

    I was reminded of the late great Bill Hicks talking about the ad-man assuring his wife, just before he nodded off that his day had been well spent restructuring the market so arsenic was now a baby food.

    I sometimes think there may be two opposite strands out there inexorably making their invisible way together.

    Homeopathy – where dilution provides ever more effectiveness,

    and 

    Evidence based knowledge – the ever more growing detection ability and mainstream love of chemophobia which reifies statistical noise as evidence.

    If it is true many people are stocking iodine in the US because of the “plume” from Fukishima plant about to hit you people you have my sympathies.
    What hope have you? Sorry If sound callous, I say that from the safety of the UK ;)

  • Gaythia

    I’ve long found Devra Davis to be an inspiration.   I hope that posting a link to your review of her book, When Smoke Ran Like Water, here, will encourage others to read it.

  • Ed Forbes

    Pulled this comment from the articiles comments.

    Love this point:
    It is accurate to say that they have been in the works at least since 2000, but it is incorrect to suggest that they were in the works for 20 years

    Here is an other section of the same comment:
    Congress, in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, explicitly and clearly avoided regulating electric utilities under the air toxics program until EPA completed a study determining whether such regulation was “appropriate and necessary.” As you noted, EPA made that finding in late 2000 (in the last month of the Clinton administration). It is accurate to say that they have been in the works at least since 2000, but it is incorrect to suggest that they were in the works for 20 years.

    It also appears incorrect to state that other industries “bowed under” to regulation of air toxics while electric utilities did not. Other industries were explicitly required to be listed by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, while electric utilities were explicitly not.

    These two portions detract from an otherwise interesting article by reading like talking points provided by environmental organization or the EPA press release rather than factual reporting.

  • harrywr2

    946 pages of long convoluted arguments.
    http://www.epa.gov/airquality/powerplanttoxics/pdfs/proposal.pdf
    Interesting points include whether or not the EPA should consider the health impact on the general population or consider the health impact on people who only eat fish and whether or not regulating the source of 30% of mercury emissions would then make any difference to the health of those that only eat fish. (Volcanoes are responsible for half of mercury emissions)
    Total mercury emissions from power plants per year – 50 tons.
     

  • StuartR

    Ed Forbes

    It is the italicised *military* that gives it away..

    We don’t have to expend further time to tell them why?

  • StuartR

    Last comment was to a totally wrong thread and therein lies the perils of mulitiple tabs

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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