Friday, April 28, 2006

Mercury rising? Parte Deux

Many have called Tim Pawlenty a RINO. Personally I liken him to President Bush. A RINO on some issues, and a staunch conservative on others.

I mean, say what you want about Pawlenty, but he did help engineer a 4 + billion dollar state budget deficit back into the black; for the most part without raising taxes (okay, I'll give you the fees). You don't do that by being a tax-and-spend-into-oblivion liberal. Like Bush, despite some quirks that make you shake your head, Pawlenty, on balance, has been a good steward for our state.

With that being said, there are other things he does that make absolutely no sense at all:
The state’s largest coal-fired power plants must upgrade their facilities to reduce the amount of mercury released into Minnesota’s environment, under a legislative compromise announced Thursday.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, lawmakers, environmental activists and power industry officials have agreed on a plan to cut by 90 percent emissions of the harmful toxin at the three largest coal-fueled power plants by 2014.

The Legislature still must approve the agreement, which is predicted to pass but could see opposition from lawmakers who want tougher mandates and others who argue the upgrades will end up costing Minnesotans more.

In his State of the State address earlier this year, Pawlenty urged lawmakers to approve mercury reduction legislation. The deal marks a “watershed event” in Minnesota’s environmental history, the Republican governor said during a Capitol news conference.

“Making progress on this is imperative, it’s timely and it’s important,” Pawlenty said.

Xcel Energy’s plants in Oak Park Heights and Becker — along with a Minnesota Power plant in Cohasset — would be required to drastically limit release of the pollutant, which settles in lakes, has been found in fish and can be dangerous to humans.

Translation: Xcel Energy will need to fork over all kinds of dough (READ: PASS IT ALONG TO CUSTOMERS IN THE FORM OF HIKES IN ENERGY COSTS) in order to "upgrade" their plants in the name of junk science (a la New Jersey):
Nearly All Mercury Natural

Even if environmental mercury were a problem, further restrictions on U.S. manmade mercury emissions would be of little value, the report notes. Sixty-one percent of environmental mercury comes from natural sources. Only 2 percent of environmental mercury comes from U.S. man-made emissions. A substantial share of environmental mercury in the U.S. comes from Chinese emissions that cross the Pacific Ocean and settle in North America.

Geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park emit as much mercury as all of Wyoming's eight coal-fired power plants combined. Even so, notes the House study, "the presence of mercury in Yellowstone National Park and Lake were said to pose no danger to park rangers, visitors, and even its wildlife. Native grizzly bears who consume up to 400 pounds of cutthroat trout have exhibited no ill effects, according to researchers." (the whole article is well worth the read)

More debunking of the chicken-little enviro-whacko scares on mercury can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

I know that the sources I cited in and of themselves do not provide the final word, either. But the point is that there are two sides to the equation, one of which is being totally ignored by the Pawlenty administration. Policy based on unproven junk science inevitably leads to undue burdens on society as a means to placate/buy votes from squeaky wheels, with economy-busting, nonsensical policies being the result.

The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, and this "feel good--vote-for-me-I-care-about-the-environment" measure will, to adopt a leftist cliche, be perpetrated on the backs of those who could least afford it (or at least ultimately on the backs of the taxpayers in terms of the additional energy subsidies for the poor that will likely come from this).

And for what?

If you want to buy votes, fine.

But use your own friggen money.

(Filed under
Pawlenty, RINOs, enviro-whackism)