House Committee Leaders Criticize EPA Utility MACT Announcement

They cite continued lack of transparency and “press release science.”

From the House Science Committee:

Washington DC – Today, Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Subcommittee Chairmen, Dr. Andy Harris (R-MD) and Dr. Paul Broun (R-GA), reiterated calls on the Administration to end its stonewalling of numerous Congressional requests for data and information related to EPA’s scientific and technical justification for its Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule, which is estimated to cost the U.S. economy at least $11 billion.

Chairman Hall:
“The Agency continues to tout the health benefits from the reduction in mercury and air toxics required under the rule. More than 99 percent of the benefits cited by EPA have nothing to do with mercury and air toxics but come from coincidental reductions in fine particulate matter, which is already regulated to a level that the Agency has deemed safe. I had high hopes that EPA when issuing the finalized rule would address the concerns regarding compliance timelines and electricity reliability as well as taking sound science into consideration. While I will continue to review the rule as finalized, I still find this rule will have an adverse effect on our economy, including the potential for significant job losses across the country.”

Chairman Harris:
“EPA’s lack of clarity regarding the scientific justifications for and ignorance of process throughout this rulemaking has been astounding. The scientific foundation that serves as the basis of this regulation is well-known to be fraught with significant shortcomings. Through extensive hearings on Clean Air Act science we determined EPA relies heavily on repeated double-counting of dubious health benefits to justify the economics of its rules.”

“The EPA fails to analyze and communicate scientific uncertainties, refuses to make key scientific data publicly available, and short-changes the peer review process. In short, the Administration’s political agenda aims to frighten Americans into supporting a regulatory agenda against affordable energy, while science and objective analysis takes a backseat.”

Chairman Broun:
“We have repeatedly called attention to the ‘press release science’ that EPA uses to advance its regulatory assault on the economy. However, Administrator Jackson’s use of a children’s hospital at today’s regulatory rollout is a whole new level of politicization. Today’s announcement suggested to the public the Utility MACT is the only way to protect public health, including that of children. This political posturing ignores the repeated claims by EPA that public health is already being protected within an adequate margin of safety in regard to particulate matter. Why the need for myriad Clean Air Act rules if EPA could achieve the same result from a single rule?”

Prior Committee correspondence on this issue is HERE.

6 thoughts on “House Committee Leaders Criticize EPA Utility MACT Announcement”

  1. There was a series of articles on this very blog about just how bad it that cleanup was. There were significant toxic effects downstream, including a number of exceedances and I believe more than one fish kill. The arguments were the same, that it would have been far safer to let it lie for the 20 years needed for it to break down.

  2. Ben, I understand what you are saying. I am saying clean the Waukegan harbor up. It is a point source pollution, just like mercury from the stacks. The fastest degeneration will be in the lake itself, not the harbor. I believe GE was forced just a year or two ago to dredge a river back east. Make Illinois PAY for their crapping in our largest fresh water body on earth. That is what I am saying.

  3. Typically, PCB cleanup is like asbestos cleanup. Dredging operations stir up immense amounts of dirt and cause everything in them to wash downstream. Small exposure to PCBs isn’t a problem (Lake Michigan itself is fine, but a number of canals and inlets are downright nasty). However, if you try to dredge the canals, much less the whole lake, you will stir it up to toxic levels. Besides, the concentrations are quite low, and you will need to dredge up and dispose of enormous quantities of sediment to make any meaningful difference.

    It’s expensive, nasty, and most of the time, it’s easier, cheaper, and safer to leave it be. PCBs break down over time, and will eventually degrade on their own (between 1976 and 1994, there was an 80% drop in PCB concentration in Lake Ontario fish). A review was done of the Houston Ship Channel, and even in that small region, draining directly into the ocean, it was determined that it was better to let it lie. I couldn’t imagine the long term effects of trying to dredge the great lakes.

    One thing to avoid in environmental cleanup is the “do something” gut instinct. Quite often, doing “something” is worse than doing nothing.

  4. Mercury is an issue in midwest because of the coal plants that emit mercury. Wisconsin has a recommended level of consumption of fish from Lake Michigan. Everyone finger points mercury but PCB’s are known to be carcinogenic and no one at the EPA will lift a finger to clean up the source. Why does the EPA whine about mercury when they do NOTHING to clean up Lake Michigan hot spots like Waukegan Harbor. That is both arbitrary and capricous. The mercury has been there for over 30 years, still nothing is done. Point source pollution is one the terms the EPA use.

  5. No idea what PCBs in Lake Michigan have to do with the article referenced above? Way off topic.

    Hopefully on topic… it is nice to see there are still a few in congress that have some sense left.

  6. The Waukegan, Illinois harbor is laced with a foot or more of poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) and has been for more than 30 years. Every fish in Lake Michigan is laced with the highly carcinogenic substance and I have pounded on the EPA for the last 20 years off and on and nothing has been done. Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) dumped it straight into Lake Michigan for decades. What about all of the little children and adults that eat freshwater fish from Lake Michigan and then have PCB’s planted in their bodies. This is an existing situation that the EPA has done nothing about for over 30 years. What about that? Every fish caught in Lake Michigan has PCB’s and nothing is being done about a very bad situation.

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