Quote of the Day: Crying Wolf Yet Again

| Thu Mar. 17, 2011 11:47 AM EDT

From David Roberts, who continues to have trouble generating the proper amount of cynicism in his daily life, on power industry opposition to new rules designed to reduce mercury emissions:

What is surprising — what continually surprises me, even as cynical as I've gotten — is how seriously polluters are taken in each successive episode of air pollution regulation. By now the script is numbingly predictable: industry commissions rigged studies showing that compliance will threaten power reliability and jack up costs; independent reports show otherwise; politicians from coal states uncritically echo the industry perspective; the media he-said she-saids; and finally, years later, the regs turn out to be cheaper and easier to comply with than anyone guessed. Every. Damn. Time.

It is, truly, amazing. When it comes to the cost of environmental rules, industry scaremongering is virtually always wrong. And not just a little wrong. A lot wrong. Yet serious people continue to stroke their chins and take their pseudo-studies seriously.

Anyway, read the whole thing. Mercury is a huge health hazard, the new EPA rules have been in the works for decades, and mitigation technology is available that works pretty well at a reasonable cost. The power industry really doesn't have a leg to stand on here.

By the way, this is an example of what I was talking about the other day: if the nuclear industry ever hopes to be competitive with coal and gas-fired plants, then coal and gas-fired plants need to be forced to pay for their actual cost of operation, not just the part that doesn't include killing thousands of people a year. These new rules are a good start.

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