Thursday, November 17, 2011


The Center for Public Integrity digs further into the EPA's failure to regulate toxic air pollutants:
A federal judge underlined the EPA’s failures on air toxics in a 2006 opinion. “Congress directed EPA in 1990 to begin executing these tasks on a specific schedule set by statute,” he wrote. “EPA has been grossly delinquent in making serious efforts to comply. And far from making the required showing that it has exercised its ‘utmost diligence’ in its efforts to comply with statutory deadlines … [the agency] has not even attempted to justify its delinquency up to this point.”
 Regulation — when the EPA choose to regulate, that is — has shown itself to be successful:
A peer-reviewed, congressionally mandated EPA study released in March concluded that the benefits of the 1990 law will far outweigh the costs. The costs of compliance will reach $65 billion per year by 2020, the study estimates. But the benefits of fewer pollution-related deaths and illnesses — mostly associated with exposure to ozone and fine particles — will approach $2 trillion annually by that time, the study predicts.
However, the Republicans continue to push the lie that saving lives is just too expensive. No evidence required, of course. Just make preposterous claims about how controlling pollutions destroys the economy. (Let's not forget that the Republicans used to exhibit some degree of sanity on this issue. After all, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, under which such toxics should be controlled, was signed into law by George H.W. Bush.)

(The entire series from CPI and NPR is worth checking out, especially for how it shines a light on the very real human impacts of our regulatory negligence. See it here.)

As ProPublica summed up in September, there is limited evidence of the negative impact of environmental regulations on employment:
Almost a decade ago, Morgenstern and some colleagues published research on the effects of regulation [PDF] using 10 years’ worth of Census data on four different polluting industries. They found that when new environmental regulation was applied, higher production costs pushed up prices, resulting in lost sales for businesses and some lost jobs, but the job losses were also offset by new jobs created in pollution abatement.

“There are many instances of regulation causing a specific industry to lose jobs,” said Roger Noll, co-director of the Program on Regulatory Policy at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Noll cited outright bans of products—such as choloroflorocarbons or leaded gasoline—as the clearest examples.

That’s supported by recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows employers attributing a small fraction of job losses to governmental regulations. In the first half of 2011, employers listed regulations as the cause of 0.2 to 0.3 percent of jobs lost as part of mass layoffs. But the data doesn’t track the other side of the equation: jobs created.

“The key point is that regulation affects the distribution of jobs among industries, but not the total number,” said Noll.

But that didn't stop the Obama administration from accepting the right-wing's propaganda, as the New York Times notes today in a piece on how the administration caved on new ozone rules — thanks to the corporate shill who serves as Obama's chief of staff, Bill Daley:
Charles D. Connor, president of the American Lung Association and a childhood friend of Mr. Daley’s, opened by discussing the adverse health impacts of ozone. He introduced Monica Kraft, a pulmonologist at Duke University and the president-elect of the American Thoracic Society.

“I told them that we thought a 70 p.p.b. standard was appropriate for health reasons and laid out the statistics on deaths associated with progressively higher levels of ozone,” Dr. Kraft said. She emphasized the damage smog does to the lungs of even healthy young children.

Mr. Daley listened politely, then asked, “What are the health impacts of unemployment?” It was a question straight out of the industry playbook.

Another member of the group introduced polling data showing strong public support for tougher air rules. Mr. Daley cut him off with an expletive, saying he was not interested in polls.

Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress presented data showing little difference in employment and economic growth in areas required to adopt stricter ozone standards than those that did not. Mr. Daley nodded but said nothing.

As the meeting was breaking up, Mr. Daley said, “As you know, it’s a very difficult economic time.”

Chronic exposure to air pollution is tied to increased risk of dying from a stroke. It's a statistically significant correlation, though no causal mechanism by which nitrogen dioxide exposure affects stroke mortality demonstrated as of yet.

Watching the world fry, courtesy of the Koch-funded, climate change acknowledgers at BEST.

The impacts of sea-level rise on San Francisco Bay won't be pretty.

At least climate change won't ruin the fine wine of the Finger Lakes. Though there's plenty of bad news for New York, too. And as Cynthia Rosenzweig notes, sitting back and doing nothing while expecting that we'll be fine isn't much of a winning strategy:
“If there is one thing we learned from Hurricane Irene,” Dr. Rosenzweig said referring to the tropical storm that pummeled the state this past summer, “we have a lot more we could be doing to prepare.”

Documenting the mostly-depressing 1970s in America, with the EPA.

Bloomberg has never cared much for protesters.

Ugh, that's a whole lot of sadness today. Fortunately, Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile are here to cheer you up.

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