Favorite

EPA rules mean clean air, not fewer jobs 

The opening act is always shopworn and the ending is always a boring anticlimax, but the audience never fails to eat it up. It is the industry lobby's well-staged propaganda campaign against any new government effort to control, phase out or reform an activity that has proved harmful to the American people.

People are warned that the regulation will bring hardship, suffering and ruin, its only fruit being a bigger, meaner government that will make Barack Obama happy by taking away more personal freedoms.

This spring it is the campaign against the new regulations to lower carbon-dioxide and other dangerous greenhouses gases emitted principally by coal-burning power plants and boilers. The rules were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency but, as everyone knows, the important thing is that President Obama backs them. They've got to be bad, right?

After several states (not Arkansas) sued the EPA in the early Bush II years for refusing to take steps to control the greenhouses gases that were warming the planet and causing thousands of deaths and millions of illnesses annually, the Supreme Court in 2007 ruled that the federal Clean Air Act indeed required the EPA to do something to curb carbon dioxide and the other pollutants if scientific evidence indicated they were harmful. Bush's EPA had tarried on that and everything else by holding, like the rest of the administration, that the best government is one that doesn't function.

Candidate Obama in 2008 promised that his government would act, and the next year the EPA produced a massive report concluding that, yes, greenhouse gases endangered health and were the biggest factor in global warming.

The industry campaign, including commercials, orchestrated condemnations by politicians and massive election spending by the Koch brothers and organizations like Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth, started back then but picked up this spring with the anticipated rollout of the new EPA rules on power-plant emissions.

Arkansas is not the worst of the polluting states — they are mainly in the Midwest — but the worst in another way. While CO2 emissions have been going down in other states, we have actually increased our production of CO2 in recent years, thanks to American Electric Power's giant new coal-burning plant at McNab (Hempstead County), which went into production in spite of unanimous decisions from both of the state's (elected) appellate courts that it never got lawful approval from the state to build it.

When the EPA issued its draft rules this month, the entire Arkansas congressional delegation denounced them and vowed to fight to protect Arkansans from the joblessness, skyrocketing utility rates and economic decline that the coal industry and the chamber of commerce say are sure to come. It even gave Sen. Mark Pryor a chance to show his disregard again for Barack Obama.

No one talked about the consequences to people's health and the future of the planet.

Arkansas plants are puffing more than 32 billion tons of CO2 into the air annually along with hundreds of millions of tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury compounds, which had sent asthma, lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease soaring when the coal-generation era began. Years ago, the EPA ended the growing threat of acid rain on forests from the Ohio Valley to the eastern seaboard by issuing tougher rules on sulfur and nitrogen emissions. But Arkansas did not force its coal-burning plants to install the units to eliminate poisonous flue-gas emissions. Back in 1974, when Arkansas Power and Light wanted to build its first coal plants, Attorney General Jim Guy Tucker insisted that they build scrubbers to reduce the sulfur and nitrogen emissions, but the Public Service Commission concluded that Arkansas's air probably would still be under the existing Clean Air Act ceilings without them.

Arkansas now hosts two of the dirtiest power plants in the nation. The power plant in Independence County is the 35th dirtiest, the one in Jefferson County 42nd.

You should ignore the scaremongering about soaring electric bills, business closings, blackouts and economic decline because the electric industry must reduce its reliance on coal by using cleaner Arkansas natural gas, converting to clean renewable power sources and/or improving household energy efficiency. California and a consortium of eastern states jumped the gun on the EPA a few years ago and forced the changes. The result: lower consumer power prices, faster economic growth, more jobs, better health. We'll eventually experience that in Arkansas, too, but it will not be a story.

After the bipartisan enactment of the Clean Air and Water Acts under Richard Nixon, every time the EPA adopted rules to control an environmental hazard, you heard the same cries. It happened each time Congress passed a law regulating some abuse, from occupational safety to consumer product safety to financial regulation to affordable health care. Cataclysm was predicted but when the good works became evident, like drastically reduced workplace deaths and injuries, it wasn't a story any longer. Government working and doing good is not a story. The papers and the politicians don't even take notice.

That's the last act of this play, too.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Environment

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Trusting

    It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Ethics upended

    Every week, Donald Trump finds another way to upend conventional ethics in government and politics. Here's one that has been in the making since the campaign but is reaching maturity in the Russian investigation: He is turning the heroes of government scandals into the villains.
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • The ACA can be fixed

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened his 51 disciples in the Senate and his party with the gravest injury imaginable.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Trusting

    It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • Bravo brother.

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • As always, a lot of what happens in the name of Jesus has nothing to…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • And I quote, "It makes complete sense that a God who favors a man who…

    • on July 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation