Monday, July 29, 2013

Is the EPA's War on Coal Distracting It From Real Public Safety Threats?

The Environmental Protection Agency has pushed hard against West Virginia coal companies and farmers. It has pushed miners out of work over the questionable and controversial "climate change" agenda.  Power plants are slated to shut down in many areas due to draconian new regulations.  At the same time, EPA bureaucrats have, with mixed success, launched regulatory broadsides against family farms. But in their zeal to promote certain agendas, have they neglected proven threats to the environment and public safety?

Most people do not consider what happens when they discard electronics.  E-waste, as it is often called, contains deadly materials such as mercury and cadmium that can leach into the water supply.  Because disposal can be difficult, 70 percent of the world's electronic trash has ended up in China.  There, many make a dangerous living washing off old parts in hydrochloric acid, and working directly with mercury coated components.

Press coverage has forced the United Nations and others to watch the illegal traffic more closely, meaning that growing piles of material remain in the United States for legal disposal.  A major snag, however, lies in the fact that the EPA has not established guidelines for disposal.

A Washington Guardian report shows that in 2009, the US handled 1.77 million tons of material.  It was incinerated, or otherwise disposed of.  The EPA's inspector general, however, claimed that "EPA does not have adequate information to ensure effective E-waste management and enforcement to protect public health and conserve valuable resources."

Furthermore, the EPA has very little data on how waste is stored, or what is done with it. Even the cathode ray tube guidelines implemented under the Bush Administration have not been enforced well, due to declining budgets.

The EPA does its best work when it responds capably to proven threats to public safety.  Therein, it justifies its existence and budget.  Unfortunately, it appears that its zeal to adhere to the unproven theory of climate change may be putting public health at risk.

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