Featured stories in this issue...
Europe Aims for Global Dominance Via Precaution, Neocons Assert
Neoconservatives are attacking the European Union for using the
precautionary principle to try to dominate the world by promoting
sustainable business practices and corporate social responsibility.
Op-Ed: Reagan and the Law of the Sea
Neoconservatives rail against the Law of the Sea Treaty, which
embodies a "Luddite better safe than sorry approach" to protecting the
oceans and is therefore, as they see it, a "dramatic step toward world
Law of the Sea Treaty Hurts U.S. Security, Neocons Say
Europe is using the Law of Sea Treaty to impose a "better safe than
sorry" regulatory model for the environment that jeopardizes America's
free enterprise system, according to a vocal group of
Coral Reef Health Depends on Ecosystem Management and Precaution
"From Pacific islands to the Western world, we know what is
threatening our [coral] reefs and how to remedy those problems, but
policy and political will are lagging behind available science," said
Noah Idechong. "Policymakers often choose inactivity rather than
subscribing to the precautionary principle," he said. "This approach
undermines our ability to leave a sound environmental legacy for
Op-Ed: Mercury Pollution: More Is Less?
Indiana has discovered one more way to allow coal-fired power
plants to continue polluting: create a market for buying and selling
the right to emit toxic mercury into the environment. The argument
that carried the day in a recent public hearing was simple: protecting
public health would be too costly for the polluters. No, Virginia, in
Indiana the polluter does not pay.
Australians Fight Over a Huge New Paper Mill
The Australian government will allow a paper mill to be built
before tests are completed to learn whether it can meet environmental
standards: "It's totally illogical. It doesn't abide by the
precautionary principle. It means we could end up with a mill that
doesn't meet the conditions."
From: PR Newswire, Oct. 9, 2007
EUROPE AIMS FOR GLOBAL DOMINANCE VIA PRECAUTION, NEOCONS ASSERT
PRINCETON, N.J. -- In the current issue of the Global Trade and
Customs Journal, international trade and regulatory lawyer Lawrence
Kogan details how the European Union and its member states previously
enlisted private European environmental standards bodies to promote
official government sustainable forest management policies that likely
violated the World Trade Organization rights of developing countries
and their industries.
In addition, the article describes how these same EU governments are
behind the ongoing efforts of other European pressure groups to
promote, via United Nations agencies and international standardization
organizations, the adoption by global industry supply chains of overly
strict corporate social responsibility standards.
According to Mr. Kogan, "It is no secret that the EU aspires to 'usurp
America's role as a source of global standards,' and to become 'the
world's regulatory capital' and 'standard-bearer.'" Therefore, it is
natural that they would endeavor to employ whatever nontransparent
means are available to push their regulatory control agenda forward."
As EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson claimed in a prior speech,
'exporting our rules and standards around the world is one source [and
expression] of European power.'"
Two recent articles appearing in the Financial Times and the
Economist confirm this assessment. "The Commission, the EU's
executive body, states openly that it wants other countries to follow
EU rules and its officials are working hard to put that vision into
practice... [T]he Union [has]... a body of law running to almost
95,000 pages -- a set of rules and regulations that covers virtually
all aspects of economic life and that is constantly expanded and
updated. Compared with other jurisdictions, the EU's rules tend to be
stricter, especially where product safety, consumer protection and
environmental and health [sustainable development] requirements are
The European regulatory model is worrisome, emphasizes Kogan,
paraphrasing from one article, especially "because 'it rests on the
[standard-of-proof-diminishing, burden-of-proof-reversing, guilty-
until-proven-innocent, I-fear-therefore-I-shall-ban, hazard-(not
risk)-based] Precautionary Principle', which is inconsistent with both
WTO law and US constitutionally-guaranteed private property rights."
As another article reaffirms, "In Europe corporate innocence is not
assumed. Indeed, a vast slab of EU laws...reverses the burden of
proof, asking industry to demonstrate that substances are
harmless...[T]he philosophical gap reflects the American
constitutional tradition that everything is allowed until it is
forbidden, against the Napoleonic tradition codifying what the state
allows and banning everything else."
"Notwithstanding its knowledge of Europe's extraterritorial
activities," warns Kogan, "the 110th US Congress may soon ratify the
UN Law of the Sea Convention without all of its committees possessing
oversight jurisdiction having first adequately reviewed in public
hearings its 45-plus environmental regulatory articles -- which also
incorporate Europe's Precautionary Principle! This would essentially
open up the floodgates to a tsunami of costly non-science and non-
economics-based environmental laws, regulations and standards that
would abridge Americans' Fifth Amendment rights, impair U.S.
industry's global economic competitiveness and fundamentally reshape
the American legal and free enterprise systems.
The Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD)
is a non-partisan non-profit international legal research and
educational organization that examines international law relating to
trade, industry and positive sustainable development around the world.
CONTACT: Lawrence Kogan 609-951-2222
Copyright 1996-2007 PR Newswire Association LLC.
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From: Wall Street Journal (pg. A19), Oct. 9, 2007
OP-ED: REAGAN AND THE LAW OF THE SEA
By William P. Clark and Edwin Meese
It is an impressive testament to the abiding affection and political
influence of former President Ronald Reagan that the fate of a
controversial treaty now before the U.S. Senate may ultimately turn on
a single question: What would Reagan do?
As we had the privilege of working closely with President Reagan in
connection with the foreign policy, national security and domestic
implications of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
(better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty or LOST), there is no
question about how our 40th president felt about this accord. He so
strongly opposed it that he formally refused to sign the treaty. He
even sent Donald Rumsfeld as a personal emissary to our key allies
around the world to explain his opposition and encourage them to
follow suit. All of them did so at the time.
Proponents of LOST, however, have lately taken -- on these pages and
elsewhere -- to portray President Reagan's concerns as relatively
circumscribed. They contend that those objections were subsequently
and satisfactorily addressed in a multilateral accord known as the
Agreement of 1994. To the extent that such assertions may induce
senators who would otherwise oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty to vote
for it, perhaps within a matter of weeks and after only the most
cursory of reviews, we feel compelled to set the record straight.
Ronald Reagan actually opposed LOST even before he came to office. He
was troubled by a treaty that had, in the course of its protracted
negotiations, mutated beyond recognition from an effort to codify
certain navigation rights strongly supported by our Navy into a
dramatic step toward world government. This supranational agenda was
most closely identified with, but not limited to, the Treaty's Part
XI, which created a variety of executive, legislative and judicial
mechanisms to control the resources of the world's oceans.
In a radio address titled "Ocean Mining" on Oct. 10, 1978, Mr. Reagan
applauded the idea that "no nat[ional] interest of ours could justify
handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth's surface over to
the Third World." He added, "No one has ruled out the idea of a [Law
of the Sea] treaty -- one which makes sense -- but after long years of
fruitless negotiating, it became apparent that the underdeveloped
nations who now control the General Assembly were looking for a free
ride at our expense -- again."
The so-called seabed mining provisions were simply one manifestation
of the problems Ronald Reagan had with LOST. That was made clear by an
entry in his diary dated June 29, 1982, after months of efforts to
negotiate extensive changes in the draft treaty text came to naught.
On that evening, President Reagan wrote: "Decided in [National
Security Council] meeting -- will not sign 'Law of the Sea' treaty
even without seabed mining provisions."
The man selected by President Reagan to undertake those renegotiations
was the remarkable James Malone. In 1984, Ambassador Malone explained
why the Law of the Sea Treaty was unacceptable: "The Treaty's
provisions were intentionally designed to promote a new world order --
a form of global collectivism known as the New International Economic
Order (NIEO) -- that seeks ultimately the redistribution of the
world's wealth through a complex system of manipulative central
economic planning and bureaucratic coercion. The Treaty's provisions
are predicated on a distorted interpretation of the noble concept of
the Earth's vast oceans as the 'common heritage of mankind.'"
Interestingly, Ambassador Malone declared in 1995, "This remains the
case today." That statement is particularly relevant insofar as LOST's
supporters, including some of our colleagues from the Reagan
administration, insist that the 1994 Agreement "fixed" the previously
unacceptable Part XI provisions. As James Malone explained to a
conference on the Law of the Sea Treaty before his untimely death more
than a decade ago:
"All the provisions from the past that make such a [new world order]
outcome possible, indeed likely, still stand. It is not true, as
argued by some, and frequently mentioned, that the U.S. rejected the
Convention in 1982 solely because of technical difficulties with Part
XI. The collectivist and redistributionist provisions of the treaty
were at the core of the U.S. refusal to sign."
He added, "The regime's structural arrangements place central planning
ahead of free market interests in determining influence over world
resources; and yet, the collapse of socialist central planning
throughout the world makes this a step in the wrong direction."
In a comment that is, if anything, even more true at present,
Ambassador Malone observed that: "Today, not only are the seabed
mining provisions inadequately corrected, and the collectivist
ideologies of a now repudiated system of global central planning still
imbedded in the treaty, new and potentially serious concerns have
Currently, these include: the increasingly brazen hostility of the
United Nations and other multilateral institutions to the United
States and its interests; the organization's ambition to impose
international taxes, which would allow it to become still less
transparent and accountable to member nations; the determination of
European and other environmentalists to impose the "precautionary
principle" (a Luddite, "better safe than sorry" approach that requires
proof no harm can come from any initiative before it can be
undertaken); the increasing practice of U.S. courts to allow
"universal jurisprudence" to trump American constitutional rights and
laws; and the use of "lawfare" (multilateral treaties, tribunal
rulings and convention declarations) by adversaries of the U.S.
military as asymmetric weapons to curtail or impede American power and
Such developments only serve to reinforce the concerns President
Reagan rightly had about the central, and abiding, defect of the Law
of the Sea Treaty: its effort to promote global government at the
expense of sovereign nation states -- and most especially the United
States. One of the prime movers behind LOST, the late Elisabeth Mann
Borgese of the World Federalist Association (which now calls itself
Citizens for Global Solutions), captured what is at stake when she
cited an ancient aphorism: "He who rules the sea, rules the land." A
U.N. publication lauding her work noted that Borgese saw LOST as a
"possible test-bed for ideas she had developed concerning a common
While we would not presume to speak for President Reagan, his own
words and those of the man who worked most closely with him and us on
Law of the Sea matters, Jim Malone, make one thing clear: Even if the
1994 Agreement actually amended LOST (and there are multiple reasons
why it did not actually alter so much as a single word of the treaty),
Ronald Reagan's belief in the U.S. as an exceptional "shining city on
a hill" and his enmity towards threats to our sovereignty in general,
and global governance schemes in particular, were such that he would
likely encourage the Senate to do today what he did in 1982: Reject
Judge Clark and Mr. Meese served in several capacities in President
Reagan's administration including, respectively, as national security
adviser and attorney general.
Copyright 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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From: CNSNews.com, Oct. 4, 2007
LAW OF SEA TREATY HURTS US SECURITY, SOVEREIGNTY ACTIVISTS SAY
By Kevin Mooney, CNSNews.com Staff Writer
(CNSNews.com) -- Europe is using international means, such as the Law
of Sea Treaty, to impose a "better safe than sorry" regulatory model
for the environment that jeopardizes America's free enterprise system,
according to international business attorney and pro-U.S. sovereignty
activist Lawrence Cogan [sic].
An evolving legal standard known as the "precautionary principle" is
taking hold in Europe where a rising number of environmental controls
have been put in place, said Kogan, CEO and co-director for the
Institute for Trade Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD), at
a Sept. 26 press conference sponsored by the Coalition to Preserve
For example, there are at least 45 different articles on environmental
regulation in the Law of the Sea Treaty that embrace the precautionary
principle, Kogan said. The environmental regulations in the treaty are
tied in with "Europe's penchant for gaining the economic upper hand"
against America, he added.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding hearings Thursday
(and hearings were also held last week) on U.S. participation in the
Law of the Sea Treaty. In general, the treaty sets myriad rules
governing military and commercial use of the oceans.
To date, more than 150 countries have signed on to the treaty.
President Reagan vetoed the treaty in the early 1980s, citing U.S.
national interests, but it has strong support now in the Bush
administration, at the Pentagon and among many members of Congress.
Kogan encouraged his fellow activists to help "shed light" on the
regulatory directives enshrined in the treaty as the Senate reviews
the pros and cons of ratification.
The Senate hearings, however, are stacked in favor of the treaty,
Cliff Kincaid, president of America's Survival, told Cybercast News
Service. Top State Department and Defense Department officials who
submitted testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last
week argued in favor in [sic] ratification.
However, the committee will hear from dissenting voices Thursday, as
Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), and
Fred Smith, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI),
At last week's press conference, Gaffney said that America's
constitutionally governing bodies will become subordinate to
unaccountable, un-elected supranational bodies, replete with
international bureaucrats hostile to U.S. interests, if the Law of Sea
Treaty is ratified.
But just as Americans grew concerned when alerted to the dangers of
the illegal immigration "amnesty" bill, Gaffney thinks the coalition's
advertising campaign will help focus attention on the dangers the
treaty poses to U.S. security.
Two separate 30-second television spots airing in the Washington,
D.C., market on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC have already been
launched through the coalition, Gaffney noted.
Although supporters of the treaty in the Senate deny there is any
direct connection between the United Nations and the treaty, written
agreements between the U.N. and the International Sea Bed Authority
(ISA) and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLS)
suggest otherwise, said Kincaid.
Moreover, the ISA is, in many respects, "even worse" than the U.N.
because it lacks oversight, said Kincaid. In the wake of the Oil-for-
Food scandal, the U.N. set up an ethics office and rules for top
officials to submit financial disclosure forms.
The ratification process needs to "slow down" so the American people
can develop a deeper appreciation for what they are buying, Doug
Bandow, a free market scholar with the Competitive Enterprise
Institute (CEI), said at the conference.
Bandow, who also served as a special advisor to President Reagan,
claimed the ISA is poised to become a "second U.N." based in Jamaica.
A new monopoly company called "The Enterprise" would be subsidized by
U.S. companies as a result of treaty stipulations, he claimed.
The views of high-ranking Defense Department and State Department
officials who testified last week diverge sharply from the coalition.
For instance, in his written statement submitted to the committee,
Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte outlined several "myths"
pertaining to the treaty's effect on U.S. sovereignty and national
Negroponte denied any taxes would be imposed on individuals or
corporations because of the treaty. He also said international
tribunals would not have authority over the U.S. Navy.
But Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), in the question-and-answer segment of
the hearing voiced concern over the potential regulation of domestic
activity he sees incorporated into the treaty. He asked Negroponte and
Negroponte's attorney, John Bellinger, to explain the regulatory
provisions that appear to touch on "land-based pollution sources."
"Why do we want to open that Pandora's box?" Vitter asked.
For his part, Bellinger insisted the U.S. could not be subjected to
international disputes concerning its domestic activities.
"If it [disputes over U.S. domestic policy] is not covered by the
treaty, why is there a section entitled Pollution from Land-based
Sources?" Vitter persisted.
Bellinger responded that the dispute mechanisms spelled out in the
treaty are very limited in scope.
Copyright 1998-2007 Cybercast News Service.
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From: Environment News Service, Oct. 4, 2007
CORAL REEF HEALTH DEPENDS ON ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT AND PRECAUTION
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Coral reefs suffer when the lands above them are
disturbed, finds new research by scientists from Hawaii to Australia.
Clearcut logging, farming and development lead to erosion and runoff
that kills corals, making it just as important to manage the land
above reefs as it is to protect them from overfishing, the scientists
Over six years, the researchers studied the connection between
watersheds and adjacent coral reefs on three Micronesian islands -
Palau, Guam and Pohnpei. The "Watersheds and Coral Reefs" study
published in the current issue of "BioScience" magazine describes how
multiple threats to reefs combine with lethal results.
"It is clear that sustaining our coral reefs depends on how well we
manage human impacts from the mountains to the sea," said Willy
Kostka, a co-author of the study and director of the Micronesia
"The centuries-old way of managing reefs in Pacific islands recognizes
that it is not the coral reefs and watersheds that can be managed, but
rather the human activities affecting these ecosystems," said Kostka.
"If we provide care and respect to our reefs, they will provide for
Sedimentation and runoff from activities on land are among the biggest
threats to nearby reefs and are interfering with other marine
conservation efforts, such as no fishing zones.
River runoff sends mud into the ocean, where it is compacted around
reefs. Algae can outgrow corals to form a mat that traps the mud and
prevents coral recruitment. When overfishing occurs, removal of plant-
eating fish means algae growth can no longer be controlled, and the
reefs are suffocated.
Actions taken by the three Pacific island communities to restore reef
health focused on managing entire ecosystems from hilltop to sea
Communities relocated crops from upland rainforests to lowland areas,
restored vegetation in watershed areas to control erosion, halted the
clearing of mangroves, and established a continuous protected area
from the top of the watershed to the reef.
One community is also considering a temporary ban on catches of plant-
Fouha Bay, the study site in Guam, is surrounded by steep hills that
deer and pig hunters often burn to clear vegetation, which accelerates
erosion rates. The bay has high levels of sedimentation that are
suffocating the reefs.
Data taken along the southern side of the bay in 1978 and again in
2003 showed a clear loss of coral species and coral cover over time
that appears to be due to watershed discharges.
The study's conclusion that coral reefs and other coastal marine
ecosystems extend into adjacent watersheds leads the authors to the
recommendation that they should be managed as an integrated unit.
"Marine protected areas often will miss their targets of resource
protection unless terrestrial protected areas are established and
enforced," they write.
Traditional ways of managing human interactions with the reef are
still effective in modern times, says the study, citing Palau's Marine
Protection Act of 1994 as an example of new legislation for no-take
areas based on traditional knowledge of spawning sites.
On the Enipein watershed on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, the
watershed was located above a marine protected area that was
struggling to recover coral and fish populations after clearing of an
upland rainforest for cash crops resulted in extensive erosion and
sediment deposition on the reef.
Findings from the Enipein watershed research were shared with local
chiefs, who decided to create a continuous protected area that begins
in the upland rainforest and extends through the mangroves and out to
Efforts to switch from upland farming to lowland cultivation have been
successful, as have been measures to reduce erosion and to protect
"Pohnpei, Palau and Guam boast some of the best examples of what can
happen when local communities understand their vested interest in
nearshore ocean resources and take action to preserve them," said lead
author Dr. Robert Richmond of the University of Hawaii's Kewalo Marine
Laboratory in Honolulu.
"Reefs are in decline worldwide," he said, "and the Pacific islands of
Micronesia are showing us how modern science and traditional knowledge
can be combined to reverse that trend.
Co-author Noah Idechong, vice speaker of the House of Delegates for
the 7th Palau National Congress, says people know what is occurring
but too often lack the political will to make the needed changes that
will protect reefs.
"From Pacific islands to the Western world, we know what is
threatening our reefs and how to remedy those problems, but policy and
political will are lagging behind available science," Idechong said.
"Policymakers often choose inactivity rather than subscribing to the
precautionary principle," he said. "This approach undermines our
ability to leave a sound environmental legacy for future generations."
Hawaii fisherman Isaac Harp, who did not participate in the study,
said, "When foreign land and natural resource management strategies
replaced Hawaii's indigenous strategies, rapid degradation of Hawaii's
inland and coastal environments began. As indigenous island peoples
across 'Pasifika' and beyond understand, when you mismanage your
inland environments, negative effects will trickle down and degrade
your coastal environments."
"Sometimes we need to move forward by going backward, in this case by
recognizing the value of and adopting indigenous management
strategies," said Harp. "A thousand years of knowledge is better than
a hundred years of assumptions."
Western governments should follow the lead of traditional societies
and consider granting near-shore and off-shore leases for community
conservation, just as they do for fish cages and oil drilling, the
If coral reef resources are not better protected from land-based
impacts, the authors warn, they will continue to decline.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007.
Return to Table of Contents
From: Muncie (Indiana) Free Press, Oct. 8, 2007
OP-ED: MERCURY POLLUTION: MORE IS LESS?
By Thomas P. Healy
INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- Once again the Daniels administration has opted to
protect the financial interests of polluters at the expense of public
health. The most recent evidence was the Indiana Air Pollution Control
Board's (APCB) 11-1 vote at its Oct. 3 meeting to adopt the minimum
federal Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR).
Under terms of the rule, Indiana-based coal-fired power plants might
cut mercury emissions by 66 percent by 2018. The key word is "might"
because a provision known as "cap-and-trade" allows plant operators to
bank and/or sell emission credits, which would stretch out actual
compliance to 2025 or even beyond.
That wasn't good enough for the board's lone holdout, Philip S.
Stevens. "It's not that I'm against controlling mercury emissions,"
Stevens said by phone from his Bloomington office, where he serves on
the faculty of Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental
Affairs. "I didn't want the public record to show unanimous support of
the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rule because I felt it was
not strong enough to protect human health.
"Given the known toxicity of mercury and the known health effects --
especially on children and pregnant women -- and increasing scientific
evidence that mercury gets into the environment and spreads in
ecosystems quickly, I felt the stronger rule was appropriate," he
Stevens' vote might have been a symbolic gesture but his efforts
during the board's deliberations over the past two and a half years
have been substantial, including participation in an Indiana
Department of Environmental Management Office of Air Quality work
group of various stakeholders who looked deeply into the issue. He
also made presentations to educate his fellow board members about
mercury's health hazards.
At the Oct. 3 meeting Stevens tried to broker a two-point compromise
proposed by the nonprofit organization Improving Kids' Environment at
the board's May meeting. The proposal would have accelerated the date
for compliance and required a 76 percent reduction from the utilities
and established a fund for energy efficiency projects to receive
allowances from the cap-and-trade program.
Board members rejected both proposals.
Medical representative James Minor (APCB chair) and environmental
representative Tom Anderson of Save the Dunes joined Stevens in voting
in favor of the IKE compromise.
Stevens said that while he favored a proposal put forth in 2004 by the
Hoosier Environmental Council that would have mandated a 90 percent
reduction by the end of the decade and put regional limits on the cap-
and-trade provision to ensure compliance, he would have been happy
with the IKE compromise.
He doesn't care for the cap-and-trade provision, which allows plants
that operate below a predetermined emissions limit (the "cap") to bank
or sell credits (the "trade") to plants that exceed their cap. "I
don't think you should be trading something like mercury that deposits
close to the source and is a potent neurotoxin."
In an Orwellian bit of irony, Stevens could be accused of not
supporting regulation of mercury because of his vote against the EPA
rule. Meanwhile, board members who supported CAMR, which permits
greater amounts of mercury to be emitted for a longer period of time
than what HEC proposed, could claim they are strengthening
regulations. That's only because mercury emissions from power plants
are currently unregulated.
Cost-effective public health
No one who attended the meeting disputed that mercury poses a health
threat. There was no denial of Indiana's rank as one of the country's
top emitters of mercury (attributable in no small part to coal-fired
power plants.). When EPA finally published its mercury rule in May
2005, there was general agreement nationwide that something had to be
Agreeing on the specifics of the amount of mercury emissions
reductions, establishing timetables for compliance and estimating the
associated costs was an exhausting process. Early on, IDEM
Commissioner Thomas Easterly made it clear that he favored CAMR, and
the members of the APCB took note -- especially representatives of
state agencies who essentially rubber-stamp approval of administration
policies (always the case regardless of which party occupies the
Presentations to the board came from two basic constituencies: the
"Suits" and the "Green Team." (See Mercury regs still up in the air,
Gov. Daniels exemplifies the corporate culture that is the natural
habitat of the "Suits" and has established a style of governance that
enshrines corporate management objectives and processes at the expense
of democratic ideals. That gives the regulated community and its
constituents an unfair advantage over advocates for citizen
shareholders in the public interest.
Throughout public hearings and in public comment periods during the
lengthy rule-making process, the "Suits" had distinct leverage. After
all, Indiana is known for its reluctance to pass regulations that
exceed federal minimums (much less to enforce them). APCB members tilt
heavily in favor of industry and the current administration, so the
burden of proving the need for a stronger rule was practically
Nevertheless, the "Green Team" made an impressive effort to present
the case for a strong rule, stressing not only the health effects but
the economic benefits as well. One long-time observer of the
regulatory process termed the outpouring of public comments in support
of HEC's initiative "unprecedented." Public health officials, other
environmental organizations, and hundreds of individual citizens
commented in favor of greater protection of public health. The
following IDEM response typifies the agency's approach: "Due to
uncertainties over the achievability of 90% control, reductions in
actual mercury exposure levels, cardiovascular health effects, and the
low benefit/cost ratio, IDEM is proceeding with a rulemaking based on
You read correctly: the benefits of safeguarding public health aren't
worth the costs.
Throughout the process, industry has claimed that the cost of
achieving a greater reduction was either technologically unfeasible or
too costly or both. Yet IDEM's mandatory fiscal impact study estimated
that achieving a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions at a coal-
fired power plant would increase electricity rates only 2.8 to 5
percent. Given Indiana's low utility rates (an estimated 21 percent
below the national average), even a 5 percent increase would keep
rates below the national average while providing significant
reductions of mercury.
At the Oct. 3 OPCB meeting, Chad Whiteman, deputy director of the
Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Clean Air Companies, said the
members of his trade association have responded to the demand for
mercury control technologies from Europe as well as the more than 20
states that have passed more stringent regulations than EPA's CAMR.
Citing one U.S. example, he noted, "The expected cost for one unit was
$30,000 to $60,000 per pound to control mercury, and some of the
demonstration projects had achieved results in the $2,000 to $4,000
per pound range." Whiteman opined that the costs of pollution control
would continue to decline as demand for such technologies increases.
Naturally, power industry reps dispute the many successes of
public/private partnerships and the competitive commercial marketplace
in lowering costs. Instead, they prefer projections by their trade
association, the Indiana Energy Association, that would allow them to
maintain the status quo and enable them to continue poisoning the
public for profit.
Clout Cancels Compliance
Utilities wield tremendous political clout. When the Clean Air Act was
established in 1970, they were able to get power plants
"grandfathered" in and exempted from those regulations. The thinking
at the time was that cleaner plants would gradually replace the aging
But it didn't happen. The old plants kept on belching pollutants and
utilities resisted costly upgrades. Passage of amendments in1990 to
the Clean Air Act called for the utility industry to install "maximum
achievable control technology" (MACT) in the nation's non-nuclear
power plants by 2008. When EPA dawdled in enforcing compliance, the
Natural Resources Defense Council sued in 1992 to force the agency to
regulate hazardous power plant emissions. By 2000, the EPA
acknowledged that mercury's toxic properties required it to be
regulated as a hazardous substance.
When the Bush administration took office, EPA head Christine Todd
Whitman established a task force of diverse stakeholders who met for
21 months and agreed that power plants should be subject to the MACT
standard. As reported in the Washington Post, the task force suddenly
was dissolved and a different policy was implemented: one that
rejected MACT and replaced it with a more industry-friendly cap-and-
The administration crafted its mercury rule in January 2004 and the
Washington Post reported that it was taken nearly verbatim from drafts
submitted by energy industry lobbyists. When EPA issued CAMR in May
2005, the cap-and-trade provision was enshrined as public policy.
Opposition to the cap-and-trade system is widespread. Sixteen state
agencies have joined environmental groups to file suit against the
cap-and-trade provision of CAMR, arguing for a return to the MACT
Concerns over the cap-and-trade plan center around the ability of
utilities to continue operating outdated, dirtier facilities.
Environmentalists, public health officials and social justice
advocates fear that such a program will create "hot spots" -- high
concentrations of mercury around older plants -- and delay much needed
cleanup, remediation and/or decommissioning.
Dan Weiss, of Duke Energy Indiana, told the APCB that the firm
operates facilities in the state where it would be uneconomic to add
pollution controls. "The generic answer is, the smaller and older the
power plant, the less options it has," Weiss said. He cited the firm's
Knox County facility in Edwardsport (built between 1944 and 1951) as
an example and noted that the company is looking to replace it with a
proposed integrated coal gasification combined cycle power plant (a
plant Gov. Daniels asserts will be built despite growing concerns in
the industry over cost and technical feasibility). Weiss added that
the company is seeking a 16 percent rate increase to be phased in over
Duke Energy Indiana's operating revenues for the six months ending
June 30, 2007, totaled $1.043 billion, an $85 million increase in net
revenue as compared to 2006.
It's no surprise that a Duke Energy representative was on the list of
energy industry leaders who met in secret with Vice President Dick
Cheney's Energy Task Force in 2001. In its August 2003 report to
Congress on the Energy Task Force, the U.S. General Accounting Office
found that the national energy policy was the product of a
centralized, top-down process. "Officials and staff met with,
solicited input from, or received information and advice from
nonfederal energy stakeholders, principally petroleum, coal, nuclear,
natural gas, and electricity industry representatives and lobbyists,"
the report stated.
Because the GAO was unable to obtain many of the documents it
requested from the office of the Vice President, citizens may never
know the full extent of the energy industry's influence on CAMR.
What you don't know can still hurt you
One thing clearly known is that environmental justice is not an active
policy in George Bush's EPA. A report by the Office of Inspector
General found that "in 2001, the Agency restated its commitment to
environmental justice in a manner that does not emphasize minority and
Since these communities were found to be more likely to live around
older, dirtier power plants, in 1994 President Bill Clinton issued
Executive Order 12898, "Federal Action to Address Environmental
Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations," designed,
the report stated, "to ensure such populations are not subjected to a
disproportionately high level of environmental risk."
In a 2004 Center for Progressive Regulation white paper, "Mercury,
Risk and Justice," author Catherine A. O'Neill writes that the
adoption of CAMR's cap-and-trade provisions will likely exacerbate
mercury levels in some areas of the country, especially the Great
Lakes region. She writes that exposure will be borne
"disproportionately by Native Americans, Asian-Americans, other
communities of color and low-income communities in this and other
regions of the country who eat large amounts of mercury-contaminated
fish.... Because humans are exposed to methyl mercury primarily
fish consumption, groups that eat the most fish are disproportionately
Indiana's Department of Health has issued a fish consumption advisory
for nearly all the waters in the State but the Department of Natural
Resources has not been required to post signs and relies instead on
Web notices, which are unlikely to reach those who need the
information the most.
Mercury exposure poses a risk of developmental problems and learning
disabilities in children. Nevertheless, despite pleas from groups like
the March of Dimes, the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and Improving
Kids' Environment to safeguard the health of children, the APCB rep
from the Department of Health consistently voted against stronger
Local deposit, local return
Rather than tackle public health issues head-on, the industry and its
lobbyists have developed considerable skill at framing regulatory
considerations in terms of how they affect the industry.
They point to their own projections of the high cost of compliance or
they question the technological feasibility of achieving stricter
regulations. They threaten rate hikes to nudge regulators into backing
off of stricter regulations. They dispute that more than 5 to 10
percent of mercury emitted from their power plants is deposited in
So where does the mercury in Indiana come from?
Gail Charnley, of the Center for Energy and Economic Development in
Washington, D.C., flew to Indianapolis to testify at the Oct. 3 APCB
meeting. "A lot of mercury deposition [in Indiana] comes from other
places like China and India," she told the board. "Only a small amount
of the methyl mercury in Indiana fish is likely to be attributable to
Indiana power plants in the first place, so regulating Indiana power
plants can have only a small impact on potential mercury reduction in
Indiana," she said.
It's heartening to think that Charnley and the domestic energy
industry recognize the pollution coming from the increasing number of
coal-fired power plants in China and elsewhere. But an argument that
"everybody else is doing it and you're not making them stop, so why
pick on us?" lacks wisdom.
Mounting evidence shows that mercury deposition is not only extremely
local but also rapidly spreads in ecosystems, where it accumulates in
earth, air, water and wildlife.
Yet another Inspector General's report, "Monitoring Needed to Assess
Impact of EPA's CAMR on Potential Hotspots," declares, "Results from
the Steubenville Study, a multiyear study in the Ohio River Valley,
found that approximately 70 percent of mercury wet deposition at
Steubenville, Ohio, in 2003 and 2004 was attributable to
local/regional coal combustion sources, predominantly from utility
Further, a three-year joint Canadian/US study found that reducing
atmospheric pollution results in rapid reductions in mercury levels in
When the world's top mercury scientists gathered August 6-11, 2006, in
Madison, Wisconsin, they issued a Declaration on Mercury Pollution
that is a fascinating, albeit disturbing, statement. Part of the
nontechnical summary reads: "The true total costs of mercury pollution
are probably much greater than currently estimated due to the many
uncertainties in these estimates, and because they don't take into
account mercury's impacts on ecosystems and wildlife."
While steering clear of direct policy recommendations, the group of
scientists stated their hope that policymakers would use the best
available science in their decision making on environmental mercury
If only their Declaration had been issued to the APCB along with a
copy of the Precautionary Principle, which asserts that where there
are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific
certainty about the potential for harm should not be used as a reason
for postponing measures to prevent harm.
Or as Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director of the Science and
Environmental Health Network puts it, "Do we have to continue to use
the toxic chemicals that we've created out of our human cleverness
that are now poisoning the entire planet? Or can we find ways to do
business that foster the conditions that are conducive to life?"
Such insight was nowhere to be heard throughout the entire mercury
rule-making process. Instead, during testimony the APCB was offered
analogies such as the one presented by John Ross, manager of
regulatory programs at NiSource, who spoke on behalf of the Indiana
Energy Association. "Mercury is typically found in parts per billion,"
he said. To try and put that in perspective he used the following
analogy. "Imagine the RCA Dome filled with ping-pong balls. We
estimate that dome would hold on the order of 15 billion balls. Of
those 15 billion only about 800 of those balls would be mercury. The
challenge, then, if you were trying to achieve 90 percent removal,
would be to try and find and remove 720 of the 800 balls. This is a
Yet IDEM's Web site states, "Mercury is toxic in small quantities. It
only takes 3 grams (approximately 1/25 of a teaspoon) of mercury to
contaminate a 60-acre lake." At such minute levels only 10 ping-pong
balls would be sufficient to pollute the entire dome. So wouldn't it
make sense not to generate those 800 balls in the first place?
And shouldn't we monitor where mercury pollution is actually
occurring? As part of a national program, the U.S. Geological Survey
has four mercury monitoring stations throughout the state. With the
exception of the Clifty Falls monitor in Jefferson County, near
Madison's Clifty Creek coal-fired power plant, monitoring stations are
located far away from the highest concentration of mercury emitting
plants in the Ohio Valley of southwestern Indiana.
Unless other states prevail in the courts and force EPA back to its
original MACT standard, Indiana is stuck with CAMR. However, if they
succeed, the rulemaking cycle begins again, and the Green Team will
have another opportunity to try to convince the Suits and the rubber-
stampers that a degraded environment is no basis for sustainable
economic development, human health, social justice or security.
Thomas P. Healy is a journalist in Indianapolis. He can be reached at
Return to Table of Contents
From: Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC News), Oct. 9, 2007
GUNNS PREPARED TO MEET OPERATING CONDITIONS
Timber company Gunns hopes to start building a pulp mill in northern
Tasmania by the end of the year, after the Federal Government doubled
the number of environmental conditions it must meet.
Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given the $1.7
billion project the go ahead, after following recommendations by
Commonwealth chief scientist Dr Jim Peacock -- imposing an extra 24
environmental conditions the mill must meet to be allowed to operate.
Gunns will now be required to meet 48 Commonwealth conditions covering
effluent discharge, environmental monitoring and the protection of
Dr Peacock says there will be extensive monitoring of the mill to
ensure it operates according to the environmental restrictions.
"There's a very strong prospect that the mill will operate with an
environmentally neutral footprint," he said.
Company executive chairman John Gay says the guidelines are tough, but
he is prepared to meet them. He says the restrictions will not change
the overall cost to build the mill.
Both Federal Coalition and Federal Labor are backing the mill and the
conditions imposed by Mr Turnbull and Dr Peacock.
Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett says Labor was always
prepared to back the mill if it was world's best practice.
He says the new rules mean it meets that condition, but he is critical
of the procedure.
Prime Minister John Howard says Labor is trying to have it both ways
by being so critical of the process.
"Are they for it or against it? Do they want jobs for northern
Tasmanians or don't they?" he said.
Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon says the Government will work to heal
the divisions that have been created over the project.
But the Greens and Democrats have vowed to make the pulp mill a
federal election issue and Tasmanian Greens Leader Peg Putt says the
battle is not over.
Ms Putt says construction on the mill should not start until all key
testing has been completed.
"Minister Turnbull has said build the mill and do those studies as the
mill is being built," she said.
"It's totally illogical. It doesn't abide by the precautionary
principle. It means we could end up with a mill that doesn't meet the
Federal Greens leader Bob Brown says Mr Garrett was wrong to say the
mill would be world's best practice.
"I will join thousands of other citizens in campaigning against this
pulp mill and the two big parties supporting it," he said.
Businessman Geoffrey Cousins rejects Mr Turnbull's handling of the
issue and will keep campaigning against him.
"Whether the people of Wentworth think he is a lost cause, we'll wait
and see," he said.
Conservationists say they too will continue to campaign against the
Return to Table of Contents
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