Thursday, November 01, 2007

Environmentalist propaganda (redundancy?) on Duke Power plant

An e-mail is making its way around the county regarding Duke Power's new coal-fired power plant which is working its way through the regulatory process.

One of the cruxes of the e-mail is that the new plant will increase mercury emissions which is going to adversely impact the health of women and babies. In fact, the name of the slide show is:
"The Cliffside Coal-Fired Power Plant Expansion Proposed by Duke Energy Will Have a Detrimental Effect on the Environment and Public Health of North Carolina"

There is one problem with the title when it comes to public health. Nobody knows if it's true.

Here is a summary of the sequence of assertions made in the power point -- see if you can find what's missing.

1) Coal plants burn mercury -- 40 percent of U.S. mercury emissions come from these facilities.
2) Mercury ends up in water
3) Fish, living the water, ingest the mercury
4) Some N.C. fish have mercury
5) People eat fish
6) High levels of mercury in fetuses and children can be harmful
7) Mercury poisoning in adults can cause major health problems
8) An estimated 8 percent of child-bearing-age women in the U.S. have unsafe levels of mercury, according to an EPA researcher.
9) The amount of mercury emitted by the new plant will result in an increase of total mercury emissions.

Did you find what's missing?

Maybe asking these three questions of the environmentalists would help:
1) Please point to one documented case -- not an estimate, projection or guess, a documented case -- in North Carolina where a child suffered health problems because of mercury poisoning from a coal-fired power plant.
2) Please point to the documented study that shows that the mercury found in area fish or water can be directly tied to emissions from coal-fired power plants.
3) Isn't it true that the "unsafe" level of mercury concentration that 8 percent of women who are childbearing age allegedly carry is actually 10 times lower than the minimum safe levels mentioned in the exact same EPA study?

What missing is this -- there is no direct evidence that mercury from power plants adversely affects anybody's health. None. Zip. Zero.

Yes, coal plants emit mercury. Yes, mercury CAN be bad for you (but in much larger quantities than anyone is every likely to consume).

No, we don't know where the mercury comes from that fish (and then humans) ingest.

Remember, 60 percent of mercury comes emissions in the U.S. come from other sources. From the state's health department web site: "Mercury is also released into the air, water and land when fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) are burned; when municipal solid waste or medical waste is incinerated; during forest fires; and during some manufacturing processes."

AND, mercury also exists naturally: "Mercury is a metal that occurs naturally at low levels in rock, soil and water throughout North Carolina."

Even if you believe, however, that the mercury comes from these plants, the science on what levels of mercury is actually harmful is flimsy.

This article from the Cato Institute addresses that point and puts in perspective these types of scare tactics. Please take the time to read it.

Here's the cold hard reality -- there are a lot of good, well-intentioned people who care deeply about clean air and clean water and healthy children.

Then there are the fringe, radical environmentalists who are for those things that we are all for, but who are truly fueled by a hatred for capitalism, industry and progress. They will distort and contrive and deceive and, mostly, scare people into opposing things that really bring no danger at all and all sorts of benefit (do you realize how many people will be employed in building this facility and what it will do to our county's tax base when it is finished -- do environmentalists even think about the number of people who will be able afford, say, better pre-natal care for their children, providing infinitely more benefits than any threat the plant poses from mercury, because of this plant).

I also love how these e-mail are sent out the day of (in this case) or the day before some deadline. Much like Al Gore and "global warming" they don't want to have a debate, they simply want to scare people into acting before they've thought through the issue.

Gore likes to intimidate those who would dare disagree with his apocalyptic view of global warming by saying: "The issue is settled."

He doesn't scare me. And neither does this power plant.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Foster, How close do YOU live to this new power plant site? If you lived where I do and was able to see everyday what we put up with from units 1-5, maybe you would have a more enlighten view. Mercury isn`t the only concern.The people in the community have known for years that the emissions from the old plants are taking it`s toll on us, but what can we do, we are powerless against the BIG DUKE POWER!!! We need groups (that care) to try and take care of us, and people everywhere, BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU MAY HAVE IN YOUR BACK (OR FRONT) YARD!!

Anonymous said...

Well that's the thing...we don't know. How does anyone "know" that these emissions from old plants are doing us in?

Just what do you put up with from those units? I have no clue, but would like to know.

Frog Song said...

Define Progress! It sure is not found on US 74. It sure not found in the vacant buildings in the uptown Shelby area. It sure not seen in the environmental record of southeast states.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the only people who are in favor of the Cliffside plant, are those who have a financial interest in it, or stand to gain something personal from it, like the writer of the article above.
The toxic emissions from the proposed plant (arsenic, mercury, etc. - there are MANY toxic substances, not just mercury) WILL affect the air that I, and countless others, breathe every day. Along with the increased CO2 being emitted into the air causing global warming, the plant will use massive amounts of water that will greatly affect the Broad River, which is a popular recreation area for local people, as well as being a main water source for many nearby cities.
Another concern is the nearby Pisgah National Forest, Shining Rock Wilderness, and Great Smokies National Park, which are so valuable to many Americans. Acid rain has already destroyed many of the beautiful spruce and fir trees in those areas; the new plant would only contribute further to the demise of our precious ecosystem. Extra care should be taken to protect these areas from the effects of the nearby Cliffside plant.

Skip Foster said...

Again, the use of language is so interesting to me. Take the statement: "The toxic emissions from the proposed plant (arsenic, mercury, etc. - there are MANY toxic substances, not just mercury) WILL affect the air that I, and countless others, breathe every day."

Guess what, everytime I sneeze outdoors it "affects the air that I, and countless other, breathe every day."

The question is, does my sneezing or the plant affect the air enought to MATTER. No one has proven that to be the case. If you know of proof, please show it to me.

Skip Foster said...

By the way, if the reference to " stand to gain something personal from it, like the writer of the article above" refers to me, I'd ask you to elaborate.

I own no stock in Duke Power and have no interest in this issue other than shining light on the obfuscations that are perpetrated by the environmentalist lobby on a routine basis.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:48PM, I feel like the environmentalist are on our side and are trying to tell us what the effects are from these coal fired power plants (If we would just listen ) I guess years down the road when alot of us in this area die and they disect us,they can then tell!!! It is sort of like the asbestos deal.I feel Duke knew what it was doing to the workers, and it finally caught up with them. Just to bad there are so many people that suffers from lung related health problems that will more than likely shorten their lives(that is if they are lucky enough to still be living)
To answer your question on what we put up with, is what I can see with my own eyes. There is a black filth that covers our house and anything outside.Our pool keeps a black film around the sides.The windows on our cars are covered with spots, that are impossible to remove. We have replaced the hog wire on our pasture fence twice in 20 years because it rust so quickly. No one else seems to have that problem, so we feel like whatever is all over our house and cars has to be eating up our fence.
Maybe I can`t prove that this comes from Duke Power, but I do know that when it gets dark and you look at the smokestack at just the right angle with the plant lights shinning,and you see the smoke coming out(this doesn`t seem to happen in the daytime, when you can see it)you know when you get up in the morning there will be even more dust and filth all over the place. I don`t know what is in this dust, but if it`s on my house IT`S inhaled. If it spots my cars and won`t come off, and can rust hog wire within a ten year time period,WHAT IN THE WORLD COULD IT BE DOING TO ME???
And to Mr. Foster...Show me proof that it doesn`t. I`m just sorry that you saw fit to compare this serious issue to a silly sneeze!!