06.09.2011 2

The Hypocrisy of the EPA

By Rebekah Rast – More than likely you have a fluorescent light bulb in your home.

They are mostly recognized for their awkward coiled shape and come with the promise of a longer lifespan than the soon-to-be banned incandescent light bulbs.

Also, fluorescent lights are more energy efficient, which is great news for the environment.  Though, there is one small environmental concern.  And that is the mercury tucked inside these new light bulbs.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tows a strong line when it comes to mercury.  Gone are the days of old glass thermometers and any product, animal or business that contains or emits the element is watched closely.

The latest rules from the EPA, more precisely 946 pages of rules, outline new requirements for U.S. power plants to sharply reduce (already low) emissions of mercury and 83 other air pollutants.

It is important to note that U.S. power plants account for less than 0.5 percent of all the mercury in the air Americans breathe.  The other 99.5 percent of mercury in the environment comes from natural occurrences like forest fires, volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other sources, including food.  But to eliminate this 0.5 percent of mercury emitted from U.S. power plants, utility companies must now spend billions more a year.

Ironic that a light bulb filled with mercury is OK for use, but a small amount of emissions from a power plant is not.

When reevaluating these fluorescent light bulbs infused with mercury, these new laws and regulations on power plants seem outrageous and ridiculous.  If every household in America is forced to convert every light bulb to a fluorescent light, imagine the environmental damage to come.

Despite that the levels of mercury in a fluorescent bulb are small; an average of 4 milligrams per light bulb, imagine every single one of those light bulbs in a landfill releasing mercury into the air and soil.

How many owners of fluorescent light bulbs have taken the time to read through the guidelines set by the EPA for proper handling of these lights?  How would they know that if a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) breaks, it is important to air out the room where it broke?  And that these bulbs should always be disposed of in a canning jar or a zip-tight plastic bag and recycled?

Assuming that the 100-year-old habit of just simply tossing a burned-out bulb into the trash continues, America’s landfills will be filled with broken glass and mercury. But that’s of no concern to the EPA right now; instead they are busy regulating power plants, which produce half of all U.S. electricity, and 70-98 percent of electricity in twelve states.

It’s as if the EPA has an ulterior motive and really isn’t concerned about mercury as much as it likes to think it is.

“The EPA is busy fabricating evidence of the dangers of mercury, while at the same time forcing Americans to use a light bulb containing that very same element,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG).  “It is obviously the EPA is simply trying to destroy America’s energy base, while at the same time kill jobs and misuse taxpayer money, so it can push through its own environmental agenda.”

If mercury is OK in a light bulb, then there should be no issue with the minuscule amount emitted by power plants.

It’s the hypocrisy of the EPA.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government (ALG).  You can follow her on Twitter at @RebekahRast.

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