In a previous column, I showed how right-wingers in Congress have mercilessly distorted science in order to downplay mercury risks. In the process, they have even ignored findings by the National Academy of Sciences. And as now seems clear, conservatives do no better on the economics of mercury regulation than there they do on the science.I ask, where is the Christian right's fist-raised outrage when it comes to harming the unborn via mercury poisoning? He continues,
Stop and think about it for a second. Mercury is a toxic substance, emitted from power plants (among other sources), which contaminates fish and poses the strongest dangers to pregnant mothers and their unborn children. Clearly, there are going to be non-negligible economic benefits to be reaped from protecting children from the kinds of neurological and developmental problems that can result from being exposed to mercury in utero. In deciding how to regulate mercury, you probably wouldn't want to downplay such considerations, much less leave them out of your regulatory calculus.
And maybe most stunningly, the GAO added that the EPA had failed to "quantify the human health benefits of decreased exposure to mercury, such as reduced incidence of developmental delays, learning disabilities, and neurological disorders." In short, perhaps the most obvious source of benefit from regulatory action -- and an area where the tougher technology-based approach clearly bests cap and trade -- got short shrift. And despite this, the technology-based approach still had a net economic benefit of $ 13 billion annually!In addition, he points out how the EPA can't be trusted as they attempted "multiple model runs just to find a technology-based scenario that was bad enough that it would match the cap-and-trade approach. In short, once again the EPA rigged its analyses to make the Bush administration's politically favored approach seem like it could match the competition."
Sounds similar to what happened to Richard Clarke regarding Iraq: they kept telling him to go back and do more "research" (i.e. bring back the answer they desired all along). This is their version of real science, that is fudged policy.