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  • EPA's New Mercury Rule? Environmental Hocus Pocus

    The EPA’s analysis of the new mercury rule (the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology, or Utility MACT) is yet another example of regulatory bait-and-switch. The rule refers to mercury but really targets CO2, and it generates its purported benefits from reducing particulates that are already covered by other regulations. For an excellent and revealing analysis of the EPA calculations, see Anne E. Smith’s technical comments.

    The EPA claims this rule would produce $53 billion to $140 billion in annual benefits, but at most $6 million of the benefits come from mercury reductions. We can compare this $6 million to the EPA’s estimated costs of more than $10 billion per year. However, even this bad deal is likely overly optimistic.

    First, other independent annual cost estimates range from $70 billion to $200 billion—well above the EPA estimate.

    Second, the benefits of particulate reduction and mercury reduction are based on questionable assumptions.

    Suppose a study examined accidents in which four people each fell a distance of 50 feet. If two of the four died, the prediction of what is called a linear-dose response is that for every 200 feet that a population falls, two people will die. This would be averaged out among the population and the distance of falling. For instance, this linear-dose response would predict that for every 400 people who step off a six-inch curb, two will die from the impact. A cost-benefit calculation using this assumption would show that even a small city would save thousands of lives per day by cutting down all curbs. Though stepping out into street may be dangerous for other reasons, dropping down six inches is not the cause of any fatalities. Nor would eliminating curbs reduce any of the other dangers of stepping into the street.

    Likewise, the EPA’s analysis of the Utility MACT rule using a linear-dose response is way off base, because existing mercury and particulate levels are more analogous to stepping off a six-inch curb than a 50-foot cliff.

    In summary:

    • The benefits of MACT’s mercury reduction are negligible.
    • Particulates are already controlled by other regulations under the Clean Air Act, and the benefits calculated by the EPA for this rule are almost certainly exaggerated as well.
    • The EPA’s cost estimate for the rule is far below independent estimates.

    The proponents of the proposed rule tell stories of mercury poisoning and point to benefit estimates as though they reflect a reduced incidence of mercury poisoning. However, even the EPA’s own cost-benefit calculations reveal that this is not a mercury rule in any meaningful sense—less than one-tenth of one percent of the estimated benefits come from mercury abatement. Those who conflate the exaggerated benefits of particulate reduction with the virtually nonexistent benefits of controlling mercury emissions perpetrate a costly fraud.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to EPA's New Mercury Rule? Environmental Hocus Pocus

    1. Leland Searles says:

      This article is off base in several respects. The mercury rule targets mercury, acid gases, and other hazardous gases. It will have some benefit in reducing fine particulate matter. It is not an end run attempt to control greenhouse gases. An independent economic analysis finds that the rule, along with the Cross-State Rule, will create about 300,000 jobs in the US, and we need jobs. We also need to stop pumping mercury into our environment, and into our bodies – especially the bodies of children and mothers-to-be. One utility company's study indicates that compliance costs per kilowatt should be very low, compared to other pollutant control systems.

      The article takes a knee-jerk critical stance toward the EPA's analysis, but not toward its cherry-picked information to boost its own perspective. Many of the energy industry studies and analysis contain "clutter" in their timelines, such as EPA actions that have no significant impact in and of themselves – that is, have no costs to industry for compliance, implementation, or any other reason. Energy industry analysis frequently contain excessive estimates of costs, often exaggerated by a factor of ten or more (an order of magnitude).

      In short, it would be nice if we could offer more dispassionate analyses instead of skewed opinions that are mostly only that – opinion, with a little information to make it seem factual.

      • Wayland Flowers says:

        Your rebuttal was forceful but lacked any specifics, just a general complaint about Mercury and about so called exaggerated claims by energy companies. I would argue that their analysis would be of much greater accuracy than that of self perpetuating bureacrats or environmentalist groups claiming to be objective. "We need to stop pumping mercury …", is a meant to stir emotion but fails to tell us whether these limits are already covered by other regulations, that was your job to disprove and you have not. "We need to also stop the death of puppies". That should tug at your heart strings.

        The jobs created are useless if those jobs are not to a productive end. Those jobs are retrofitting jobs (needless), inspectors jobs, etc. Make-work jobs do nothing to help our economy or build the wealth of our nation. They just transfer money from one group to another. We may as well pay people to dig holes and fill them up again.

    2. Spiritof76 says:

      We need to defund EPA and get rid of it. It is a matter of economic survival of the US. Yet, the Republicans in the Congress stay muted on the subject.
      The CFL bulbs carry mercury to the extent of 0.3 gm per bulb! At billions of bulbs exposing every segment of the population to an immediate danger of mercury poisoning, how come there is no hue and cry about that from EPA? The answer is: EPA like every other government agency is led by socilaists and communists. We need get rid of all of them if we really value freedom.

    3. Red Baker says:

      Great explanation of the fraud which EPA has become. It's time to administer some discipline to this type of fake science, and fire some people.

    4. Ken says:

      Isn't it interesting that EPA is failing to control a real mercury hazard in the screw shaped light bulbs currently required by law. You can bet that few are properly disposed of. Most end up in landfills. So much for controlling hazardous stuff.

    5. Bobbie says:

      It's funny they would site mercury when the government is mandating it in our households…
      They're thieving and killing us and we're paying them! Can someone please put these people in their place?

    6. Ridge says:

      Amazing! The EPA is promulgating rules limiting exposure to mercury while forcing us to use the CFL light bulbs which release mercury into the atomosphere when broken. Brilliant!

    7. TimAZ says:

      The regime has never acted in a manner that indicates any concern for the individuals well being. Obamacare is just one example. On one hand the regime tries to force upon the individual the use of light bulbs containing mercury within their homes. On the other hand the regime pretends to reduce the amount of atmospheric mercury produced through the generation of electricity. How is it acceptable to force the use of mercury containing light bulbs in an inclosed environment, and not acceptable to allow atmospheric levels of mercury in far smaller less harmful concentrations? I would suggest that one investigate which politicians have holdings in CFL stock. As for the regime and their motives to regulate mercury from energy production. Did Mao-Bama not say that through his plan energy prices would necessarily sky rocket? Mao-Bama foolishly believes that we the people are not capable of realizing that the EPA is just an extension of Mao-Bama, and therefore the EPA is not a reliable strategic tool for plausible deniability when he is forced to abandon another attempt to destroy carbon based energy sources once again at the expense of the American peoples well being. Had enough yet?

    8. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Wake-up and understand it is not the EPA. It's Obama. The EPA cannot and will not set policy on anything without directions and permssion from Obama. By blaming the EPA, we are allowing Obama to continue to hide behind the curtain while he continues pulling the strings of the puppets that will destroy this nation and our way of life.

    9. Huapakechi says:

      Can we file perjury charges against these faceless bureaucratic dictators when the 'science' they purport to base their regulations on is so obviously a fraud?

    10. Jill Maine says:

      Welcome to the upside down world of Alice in Wonderland

    11. Jared says:

      Sigh. The light bulb rule you're talking about has nothing to do with CFL's. I know that's what you've heard, but go read it. There is no legislation, none whatsoever, planned or passed, in this country that mandates CFL's in any way whatsoever. Sorry. You're thinking of Australia, which really did pass such a ban on incandescents.

      Also, the "ban" you're talking about was signed into law by George W. Bush, with broad bipartisan support. That never seems to make it onto the conservative radar either.

      Finally, there's less mercury (by far) in CFL's than in the old-school thermometers and thermostats and watch batteries that no one ever had a problem with. And while no one ever cracked open a CFL and swallowed the contents for kicks, we eat mercury in fish all the time–some of which comes from coal power plants used to power less efficient incandescents.

      • Bobbie says:

        That's just it. Proof those in authority aren't trustworthy. Mercury is a poison so everyone is told but only at their convenience to abuse their authority with intentional lack of communication and information so why don't we know to what extent it's a poison? yet!? So they can play it at their convenience? Does mercury dissipate? I'd think if it didn't there'd be significant evidence in deaths?

        Executive order needs to be in place because of the environment but not with a legitimate reason? Costly government make work jobs that generates nothing productive. If it did the free market would pick it up where money earned is taxed into government revenue, generated throughout the economy, taxed into government revenue. Free market serves a purpose without the influence of government. The less cost of government the more freedom you have to spend more of what you earn. Government has come to serve their own purpose that is collapsing the country! Too much cost and added corruption when unconstitutional government is involved with intentional confusion from those abusing their authority beyond our control and at our expense.
        Help is wanted!

    12. Bobbie says:

      I forgot. once you put awareness (mercury = poison) in people they will be very speculative when it comes to a change regarding that awareness…
      How much mercury is in every light bulb throughout average home (epa established) compared to 1 thermometer? Light bulbs are easy to break and thermometers were handled with utmost care. Say and where did all those thermometers go? and how much is it going to cost to throw away burnt out florescent light bulb(s) that has far less mercury in it? You seem knowledgeable in the field where I see corruption and misleading information leading to crisis of some sorts…

    13. Wayland Flowers says:

      I wondered what are they talking about when they say benefits of 70 whatever billion. It seems these are the projected health benefits / healthcare cost savings because of a reduction of pollutants. Just a quick skim thru the technical comment tels us that these "benefits" have nothing to do with Mercury, but rather another pollutant which is already regulated by the EPA.
      On that basis alone, because of the deceptiveness, this stupid regulation should be tossed out.

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