EPA, CO2, coal and mercury

The E.P.A. is embroiled in several crucial green tech issues right now.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

The E.P.A. is embroiled in several crucial green tech issues right now. The newest alarm has been sounded by forces wanting the Environmental Procrastination Agency to do something about CO2 emissions from airplanes. Who are they kidding? Do something?

It's a serious-enough issue, and states have little power since the planes regularly fly acorss borders both national and international. Planes are a major source of CO2 emissions and those go straight into the upper atmosphere where they do the most damage. Think pollution injected straight into the planet's lungs. Here's a cheery little site that lets you calculate what you're doing to the CO2 load of the planet for every flight you take. Of course, the plane will fly and pollute whether you go or not.

Those asking for EPA action are five American states, New York City and a coalition of enviornmental groups. The airline industry is aware it has a problem and was quick to point out they've reduced emissions over the past seven years. Not clear how much of that is due to reduced number of flights overall. Newer planes are certainly more fuel efficient than the old beaters of twenty years ago.

Meanwhile the EPA's time-out is winding down on the request from California and other states for a ruling on tougher emissions standards for cars and light trucks. Those fuel-efficiency standards that seem to be part of an improbable attept to change the law on a national level. That's why several states are trying to raise standards on their own. Already sued for its two-year delay in moving the ball on this particular play, the EPA has said it'll rule before the end of the year. That means, in standard Washington practice, that the ruling will come out late on Friday, December 28th. That way it will get buried in the Saturday papers and newscasts and websites over a holiday weekend when nobody's paying attention anyway. By January 2, 2008, it'll be old news. For a good summary of where the U.S. stands on the whole CO2 problem, click here.

Good News

There is encouraging news on CO2 emissions from Europe. The fifteen elder states of the European Union are apparently capable of reaching their stated goals under the Kyoto Protocol. That's the very same protocol that had mandatory emission reduction requirements and was said by the current American regime to be a serious threat to the U.S. economy. Surely all those Kyoto Protocol regs are what's driven the economic developments that have seen the Euro conitnhue to rise against the U.S. dollar. Ooops, that doesn;t quite add up, does it? Mercury

The EPA has its fingers in more whirling fan blade: the issue of mercury pollution for coal-burning plants used to generate electricity. The EPA wants the market to decide what's right, so it has a plan to let polluters buy and sell mercury emission credits. For some reason some of the folks who will end up ingesting and breathing that mercury don't like that. Think your neighbor paying $25 so he can move his bar-b-que into you living room.

The court battle over mercury is already in federal court, pitting the national government against 14 states, several Native American tribes and the usual coalition of environmental groups. You remember the symbolic mad hatters? Well, they went mad because they ingested mercury in the process of making felt hats in the old days. Mercury is not a nice thing to have in your body, no matter how much you love electricity. Here's a site all about the evils of mercury...why they even want dentists to take mercury out of your fillings.

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