Ironically, the EPA works to thwart the biggest threat to coal.
Larry Bell writes at Forbes:
New York Times writer Paul Krugman finally got his Christmas wish from the EPA in the form of new mercury and air standards for power plants. In his December 25 article titled “Springtime for Toxics” he cheered: “ we were supposed to start regulating mercury more than 20 years ago. But the rules are finally here, and will deliver huge benefits at only modest cost. So naturally, Republicans are furious.” He went on to say, “As far as I can tell, even opponents of environmental regulation admit that mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression ‘mad as a hatter’ emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result.”
…Is it legitimate for some to question how much good will this rule really accomplish? For a little perspective, consider that America’s coal-burning power plants which have provided about half of all electricity emit an estimated 41-48 tons of mercury each year. Compare this amount with U.S. forest fires that emit at least 44 tons; human cremation about 26 tons; Chinese power plants 400 tons; and volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other natural sources spew out 9,000-10,000 tons. Of all these emissions that enter the atmosphere, the power plants account for less than 0.5%.
Also consider some recent health survey and risk assessment results. The Centers for Disease Control’s National Examination Survey, which monitors blood mercury counts for U.S. women and children, found that mercury levels have decreased steadily from 1999-2008. A 17-year Seychelles Children Development Study of mercury risk to babies and children who eat several servings of ocean fish every week found “no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects.” And the World Health Organization and U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has set mercury-risk standards that are two to three times less restrictive than EPA’s…