The following piece by Kansas Representative Dennis Hedke (district 99, Andover and parts of far east Wichita) illustrates another way in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overreaches. Hedke is a geophysicist by training and profession.
Every citizen on the planet bears a responsibility toward stewardship of the environment. In the United States we have been blessed by much improved air and water quality over many decades of dedicated effort. There are, however, practical limits as to how far to push the envelope of “clean.”
The article presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Wichita Eagle on December 4, 2011 spoke to newly created rules placed on utilities, primarily targeted at coal-burning power plants. These new regulations fall within the “Cross-State Air Pollution Rule,” or CSAPR.
EPA claims it will “protect hundreds of million of Americans, providing up to $280 billion in benefits by preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths, asthma and heart attacks, and millions of lost days of school or work due to illness,” due to the cleanup of mercury, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and other emissions.
Exactly where did the EPA come up with these incredible health benefits?
According to a Wall Street Journal citation on December 6, 2011, “… the EPA estimates that the benefits to society from mercury reductions in the utility rule max out at $6.1 million, total, while imposing $11 billion in compliance costs annually.”
Can the EPA cite for me, and the rest of Kansans who wish to know, evidence for any individual living within a 25 mile radius of the Jeffrey Energy Center near St. Mary’s, KS, who has experienced respiratory illness as a direct result of the emissions coming from that plant? Has there been a single lost day of school for any student in the St. Mary’s district due to the emissions coming from that plant? Has anyone lost a day of work as a direct result of emissions coming from that plant?
If and when EPA conducts an epidemiologic study to answer those questions, I predict the answers will be no, no, and no. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed that no such studies have been conducted anywhere in Kansas.
Yet, the EPA would have us believe that they will be protecting hundreds of millions of Americans from multiple hazardous substances being emitted, and carried ‘downwind’ to Chicago, Pittsburgh, and of course New York City and EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC. I submit they would love to have our air quality. There is something very wrong with this picture.
Jeffrey Energy Center (through Westar ratepayers) has invested in excess of $600 million within the past decade to retrofit and materially reduce sulfur oxides by 82% and nitrogen oxides by 48%, and other particulates that may be in some way challenging the health profiles of residents proximate to the plant. Not enough according to the EPA.
Behind the scenes, EPA claims their models conflict with models of other entities, and that rolling brownouts and blackouts won’t happen next summer, as a result of mandatory plant shutdowns. That’s not what has been publicly reported by Westar and many others.
I’ll go with Westar, and the others.
Casper, please lend us a hand.