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EPA omits dangerous results from their report

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posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 09:41 AM
Ok, so the Environmental Protection Agency pays Harvard University for a study that analyzes the health benefits of limiting mercury emissions from U.S. power plants.

In other words, the question was "How beneficial would it be to the U.S. breathing public if we limited mercury emissions from power plants?"

Once the study was complete, the EPA emphasized that controlling these emissions would be far too costly for corporations, and with limited positive public health impacts.

Problem is, they STRIPPED the finding from the report that stated the health benefits to be 100 TIMES higher than what they put in the new "edited" report.

Um, who do these punks work for anyway?

New EPA mercury rule omits conflicting data
Study called stricter limits cost-effective

By Shankar Vedantam
The Washington Post
Updated: 11:51 p.m. ET March 21, 2005

When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff.

What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion....

The Harvard study concluded that mercury controls similar to those the EPA proposed could save nearly $5 billion a year through reduced neurological and cardiac harm. Last Tuesday, however, officials said the health benefits were worth no more than $50 million a year while the cost to industry would be $750 million a year.

"They are saying if they fail to regulate mercury from power plants at all, it really wouldn't make a difference," said John Walke, clean air director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. "To acknowledge the real benefits would be to raise the next question: Why didn't you go further?"

James Hammitt, director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and co-author of the study, agreed: "If you have a larger effect of the benefits, that would suggest more aggressive controls were justified...

...Although EPA spokeswoman Bergman said last Tuesday that the "costs of this rule outweigh the benefits," officials said later in the week that the cardiac benefits could change the equation. "We say the costs are bigger than the quantified benefits," McGartland said. "No one can definitively say the costs are bigger than the benefits."

Harvard's Hammitt, who was cautious in describing his findings, readily acknowledged the uncertainties in such analyses. But he questioned the EPA's decision to ignore a study that the agency had paid for and that agency scientists Jacqueline Moya and Rita Schoeny had reviewed.

"If they think there is no significant effect of U.S. power plants on the marine fish we eat, they ought to make that case as opposed to just ignoring it," he said. The fact that U.S. contribution to mercury in oceans "is a small part of the problem doesn't mean it is a part of the problem that should be ignored."

Hammitt's Harvard Center for Risk Analysis has been widely cited by the Bush administration on various science issues. Hammitt assumed leadership of the center from John D. Graham, who is now the administrator of the Federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Hammitt noted that Graham was criticized during his confirmation hearings for being "pro-industry."

If this doesn't make you sick, it will eventually. Either you or your kids, if you're really into taking breaths outside.


posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 10:22 AM
Some more info (got it via email):

Mercury Pollution Linked To Rise In Autism
March 18, 2005, 2:44:12 PM

A recent study in the journal Health and Place says that mercury pollution in the state of Texas in US may be one of the reasons of rise in number of autistic children.

In US, mercury is released in the environment because of the power plants that consume coal. According to the researchers, on an average, for each 1000 pounds of mercury that's released into the environment, there is a 61% increase in the rate of autism with 43% increase in the rates of special education services.

Mercury, a metal, is known to have neurotoxin properties that can affect the brain, the spinal cord kidney or liver. Autism is a behavior disorder that affects the children and has a neural or genetic component, says the experts. Mercury was for a long time was being associated with autism, but it was considered to be the one present in the MMR vaccine given to children. Studies have failed to make any concrete connection in this regard. By relating mercury in the environment to autism, the researchers have opened a new door to study the effects of mercury pollution to autism.

The study was done using data from the Texas Education Department and US Environment Protection Agency. The researchers had taken into consideration other variables as population size, economic and demographic factors.



posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 11:02 AM
This administration has a long history of forcing scientists to "modify" data, reports and conclusions.

...Also, I find it odd that none of the "mercury" coverage here talked about the WHO's recent efforts to create international standards on mercury emissions - and the fact that the US blocked the treaty.

" Last month, the U.S. helped block a global treaty to curb mercury use."
US Blocks International Treaties


posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 12:22 PM
You are implying that there is some protocol for determining that an illness is caused by a particular chemical - tough to do in any setting and the conclusion they reached is probably correct - there is no way of knowing "exactly" what health care costs are associated with Mercury, while the cost to implement controls is known. The range of $50M to $5B is a bit of a statistical whale, and until the deviation/error bars get tighter, probably best to leave it alone....

Example - Mercury is known to cause X. If a patient presents to the health care community with X and is treated but also falls in hospital and breaks hip, did they back out that cost?? Probably not as it would require the raw patient cost data and that is not sent to any state or Fed agency. You also have to factor in every other way a patient could get X and back that out. Lastly you would have to factor in exposure mechanisms and how and where those people came in contact with it. Very tough and probably why the range is so great....

BTW - I have no stake in anything to do with Mercury except some gold holdings....

posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 01:50 PM
You would somehow figure, though, that the EPA would err on the side of PUBLIC HEALTH rather than for corporations.

Mercury certainly IS a carcinogen, and it certainly does impact fish populations and causes higher levels of mercury toxicity in the fish we eat.

I'm just surprised the EPA would be so blatant in their disregard for public safety.


posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 04:32 PM
Perspective here folks, if $50 million were the direct costs and if we take $20,000 as the annual treatment cost then we get 2500 affected individuals. The cost to the plants is passed on to ALL consumers in the form of higher prices. So does the medical costs (via insurance) too just to show balance here. Another take is that the Mercury already out there cannot be easily eradicated and the controls to reduce air born emissions probably would not have that big of a benefit....

The gold producers in South America shoot far more Mercury into the environment than we do....

posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 04:47 PM
Is true that reports has always benefit the people that finance the studies, the EPA have a lot of trouble because they are divided, with the federal cuts during this administration they have to depend on private funds to finace research, and if you notice who are the financiers of these research you will have a pretty good idea who the research is going to benefit.

Sad but true.

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