We live in a country that is fueled by hyper-consumption. “Super-size me” is the slogan of this generation. Many companies have profited greatly from offering different sizes, or options, to Americans. Why? Most Americans seem to prefer the biggest sizes, the most amenities, the best of whatever is available. From gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles to television programming packages offering hundreds of channels, one thing evident in the LISA: the bigger, the more, the better! Right?
Unfortunately, it is this attitude that has placed our environment (and the citizens who live in it) in danger. Eke its tizzies, the federal government, or at least the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has slipped into an excess-based mindset that has allowed the proverbial “rich to get richer. ” In this case, the EPA has passed legislation that, through loopholes, allows some of the largest corporate polluters of mercury emissions to continue polluting without decreasing the amount Of mercury emissions.
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However, nine states have filed a lawsuit against the federal government citing that the new rule does not protect pregnant women and children from the mercury emissions in the air. The lawsuit comes after the EPA issued a final rule about the regulation of mercury pollution from power plants. Environmental advocates and many of the affected states, say the rule (the Clean Air Mercury Rule) is too weak and does not properly ensure the health and welfare of humans. The rule is focused on restricting the amount of mercury emissions coal-fired plants can release.
Coal-fired plants are the nation’s largest remaining unregulated source of mercury emissions. (Krieger, 2005) The EPA states that the rule will cap emissions at 15 tons annually by 201 8, as opposed to the 48 tons a year the plants emit currently. According to Kim Krieger from The Nation’s Health, the states argue that the rule is not only inadequate but “violates the 1 990 Clean Air Act, ignores the science on mercury hazards and allows industry to pollute beyond the 2018 deadline. (Krieger, 2005) According to Krieger, mercury is a highly toxic pollutant that studies have linked to cardiovascular disease and developmental problems in children and fetus and puts them at increased risk of brain damage and learning disabilities. It is this health concern that led the states to file suit against the Pea’s rule. States have the right to impose saws that are more strict than the federal environmental laws, but not more lax. Several states have already passed strict mercury emissions and other environmental laws, especially in the New England area.
According to Christian Science Monitor writer Sara 8. Miller, New England has long been considered one of the most contaminated regions because of settling pollutants after downwind travel from the Midwest and beyond. “The region is unfortunate enough to be called the end of the tailpipe in the US,” says John Walked, director of the clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Miller, 2005) Under the Pea’s plan, the government would give a pollution limit to each state, which would then place a “cap” on each plant.
However, plants that exceed the cap can use credits from plants that are under the cap, allowing the worst polluting plants to pollute even more. This system is called a “cap and trade. ” Walked says that the cap and trade system is ineffective, “A pollution credit equals the right to pollute. ” (Krieger, 2005) New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey agrees, stating, “Pea’s emissions trading plan will allow some power plants to actually increase mercury missions, creating hot spots of mercury deposition and threatening communities.
Its an anti-human health position. The EPA is putting private profit ahead of public health, and it’s a mistake. ” (Santa, 2005) Amid the criticism, the EPA stated that the new mercury rule was not more drastic in its measures because “the costs to industry already exceeded the public health benefit. ” (Krieger, 2005) A report from Harvard contests that claim, however, citing that the health benefit of regulating mercury definitely outweighs the cost to industry. The report states that health benefits are 100 mimes greater than the EPA cites.
The report also estimates billions of dollars in savings of preventative health costs, such as those created by cardiovascular disease and neurological damage. (Cribbers 2005) When we discuss a cost benefit analysis, there should not be a question between human health and cost to industry. If the government is not taking care of its people, then it is not doing its job. There is no cost too high to protect the health and safety of the people. The Preamble to the United States Constitution clearly establishes the expectation of the government to care for TTS people, “… Roved for the common defense, promote the general Welfare… ” Yet the EPA the institution charged with protecting our environment and health, is not defending our right to health and is not considering the welfare of the people. According to Krieger, the EPA has been successful in its first attempt to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent in the mid-1 ass’s. The technology already exists to reduce mercury emissions. (Krieger, 2005) By not imposing stricter federal emissions laws, the most-polluting plants will continue to emit toxic mercury into the air, reading a health risk for all those downwind.
Even though new rules say that states can control their own emission standards and forbid cap and trade programs, critics say it is not enough. Several states that have already-strict emissions laws will continue to suffer as pollutants from the Midwest settle on their soil.