Tuesday :: Mar 16, 2004

Should the Government Ever Regulate?

by Mary

What poisons do you think are okay to have in our environment? And who should say? Are you comfortable having the industry write the rules for poisons such as mercury that they believe are tolerable? Or should we use their metrics for whether the tradeoff between public health versus the expense in implementing solutions are affordable or not? Are there any environmental public health goals that the Bush administration has where they think that regulations would be worth the cost to industry? If so, then why did they decide that rewriting the mercury emission rules shouldn't need to have EPA scientists review their new rules?

When the new proposed rule for mercury emissions were released, many complained, including EPA technical staffers whose role is to provide expert opinion and data on how effective a rule will be. Nevertheless, the EPA political appointees decided that they didn't need to include any of the EPA scientists in developing these rules because they had all the data they needed from the coal industry. Isn't that nice?

The new EPA head, Michael Levitt says (paraphrase), "Gee, it's not my fault. Christie Whitman was the head of the agency when all of this was started".

So what does she say?

Christie Whitman was the EPA administrator when the career employees say they were told not to conduct the analysis. She left the agency in June, six months before the proposed rule was announced.

"I did not know that we were cutting a process short or shortchanging the analysis," Whitman said in an interview Monday. Had she heard such allegations, she said, she would have intervened.

No studies were conducted at all that would back up the latest Bush lies on why these rules were so good:

The Bush administration has said that the proposed rule would cut mercury emissions by 70% in the next 15 years, and is tied to the president's "Clear Skies" initiative.

Would you be surprised to find out that most experts strongly dispute this claim?

It's not just Democrats that are shocked by this outrage.

EPA veterans say they cannot recall another instance when the agency's technical experts were cut out of developing a major regulatory proposal.

The administration chose a process "that would support the conclusion they wanted to reach," said John A. Paul, a Republican environmental regulator from Ohio who co-chaired the EPA-appointed advisory panel.

He said its 21 months of work on mercury was ignored.

"There is a politicization of the work of the agency that I have not seen before," said Bruce C. Buckheit, who served in major federal environmental posts for two decades. He retired in December as director of the EPA's Air Enforcement Division, partly because he felt enforcement was stymied. "A political agenda is driving the agency's output, rather than analysis and science," he said.

Russell E. Train, a Republican who headed the EPA during the Nixon and Ford administrations, said: "I think it is outrageous. The agency has strayed from its mission in the past three years."

I find it absolutely incomprehensible that the dinosaurs of our energy industry have such power in this White House when it is clear that they are dying industries. In 50 years they will be nothing, but yet, they can create rules that diminish the health and well-being of millions of Americans. I guess if you have money and have Cheney's ear, you can do anything you want - upto and including causing neurological damage to 60 thousand of innocent unborn Americans every year. And these guys claim to be pro-life. What BS.

Mary :: 7:24 PM :: Comments (1) :: Digg It!