Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

Rebuking Wheeler, EPA Workforce Resists ‘Back To Office’ Order

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Hundreds of telecommuting employees at the Environmental Protection Agency are in open revolt. Agency head Andrew R. Wheeler this week drew their ire for what they say is a deadly and racist order to return to federal buildings despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

They refused Monday to be bullied back into a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19 just to buttress the president's foolish behavior. And they noted that such dangerous directives appear aimed only at the EPA, an agency whose mission Trump loathes.

Read Now Show less

Trump’s Bass-Ackward Government Is Rule By Corporate Lobbyists

Gosh, President Donald Trump has really been busy lately: busy assailing Sen. Kamala Harris as "nasty;" busy choosing a new pandemic adviser, whose only qualification is that he praises Trump on Fox News; and busy dissing and dismantling our post offices.

But, instead of all this Trumpian political stuff, shouldn't a president be, you know, running the government? Nah ... that bores him. Besides, that's why he packed his Cabinet with all those corporate lobbyists and ideologues who've spent their lives trying to rig our government to serve the moneyed elites. Now, empowered by Trump, these special interests are our government, literally setting and running America's economic, environmental, labor, health, education, financial and other public policies. And what a job they're doing — on us!

Read Now Show less

EPA Allows Agribusiness To Keep Using Widely Banned Poison

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Bayer, the giant German chemical company, has agreed to pay up to $400 million to U.S. farmers whose crops have been damaged by the deadly herbicide dicamba.

The poison is still being used on genetically modified crops until July 31, despite a court order that threw out the Trump EPA approval.

Read Now Show less

To Please Coal Barons, EPA Will Roll Back Mercury Emissions Rule

Reprinted with permission from DCReport.

The cost to babies whose IQs are stunted because their mothers ate mercury-laced fish while pregnant pales for EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in comparison to the costs imposed on coal-fired power plants to make their mercury-emitting plants safer.

Wheeler twisted the math for a proposed federal rule to knock out the legal justification for safer standards under Obama, claiming that “the only health benefit” to reducing mercury emissions “that the EPA could quantify and monetize” was the children’s IQ loss.

“By taking away the legal justification for the standard, they’re making it very easy for challengers to say that the standard can’t survive,” said Richard Revesz, the director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University. “The consequences are enormous, and the analysis is atrocious. You won’t find a single respectable economist who would say this is a plausible methodology.”

In March 2017, coal magnate Robert Murray, who donated $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration, gave the Energy Department a wish list that included rescinding or revising the mercury standard, which Murray Energy had sued to block. Wheeler is a former lobbyist, and Murray Energy was his best-paying client.

Wheeler ignored the other projected benefits of the current rule that prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, about 130,000 asthma attacks, 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits and more than 3 million days of restricted activity.

In the United States, coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury emissions, accounting for 42 percent of emissions in 2014.

Babies and fetuses are most at risk from mercury. The results mimic cerebral palsy at the highest levels of exposure. High levels of mercury are also associated with heart disease and high blood pressure.

It’s difficult to consume the amount of fish recommended by the American Heart Association while also remaining at safe mercury levels because of high mercury levels in most fish.

Recent studies suggest that the benefits of reducing mercury emissions are much larger than those found in a 2011 analysis the Obama EPA used to justify the mercury standard. A 2016 study found that the benefits are more than $43 billion if potentially lost wages, medical costs from lowered IQs, premature deaths and nonfatal heart attacks are looked at. The estimated cost of compliance is less than $1 billion a year.

Since the mercury rule went into effect in 2012, mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants decreased by 79,000 pounds, or 86%, between 2006 and 2016 and 83,000 pounds, or 89%, from 2007 and 2017.