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Scientist scorns risk of mercury emissions from coal-fired power

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  • P. Neuman self only
    ... From: janson2997 To: fuelcell-energy@yahoogroups.com Date: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 10:47:48 -0000 Subject: [fuelcell-energy] Scientist
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2004
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      From: "janson2997" <janson1997@...>
      To: fuelcell-energy@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 10:47:48 -0000
      Subject: [fuelcell-energy] Scientist scorns risk of mercury emissions
      from coal-fired power
      Message-ID: <ceihok+ogis@egroups.com>


      Finding this was just a coincidence!! Regards,j2997

      Scientist scorns risk of mercury emissions from coal-fired power
      The Seattle Times (July 29, 2004)

      Jul. 29--Recent concerns about toxic mercury spewing from coal-fired
      power plants have been overblown by environmentalists in an effort to
      attack the energy industry, a Harvard University scientist told a
      convention of conservative state lawmakers in Seattle yesterday.

      Willie Soon, a physicist also known for asserting that global warming
      is a myth, told his audience at the Washington State Convention and
      Trade Center that proposals to crack down on mercury emissions in the
      United States are based on erroneous science and might harm people's
      health by scaring them away from eating fish.

      "No babies are being poisoned," Soon told about four dozen members of
      the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of state
      legislators and conservative policy experts meeting this week to
      share ideas and political strategies. About 2,000 members are in town
      this week. Interior Secretary Gale Norton is scheduled to speak

      "I'm a scientist, and I don't approve of the popular headlines on
      mercury," Soon said. "They're trying to create the notion that
      mercury can only come from a power plant. Mercury has been here from
      time immemorial."

      Soon contends that less than 1 percent of the world's mercury comes
      from American power plants, with the vast majority coming from
      natural sources such as volcanic eruptions, supernovas in space and
      forest fires.

      But Soon has drawn fire recently because his studies on global
      warming have been partially funded by the petroleum industry. And the
      group he represented yesterday, the conservative Center for Science
      and Public Policy, is a wing of the Virginia-based Frontiers of
      Freedom, which in 2002 received nearly one-third of its $700,000
      budget from ExxonMobil, according to The New York Times.

      Yesterday, local environmentalists fired back.

      "If you pay enough money, you can get anyone to say anything," said
      Robert Pregulman, executive director of Washington Public Interest
      Research Group, a nonprofit environmental group.

      "It is very clear this organization, and this guy in particular, have
      an ax to grind about any sort of regulation. To say it's not a
      problem is shortsighted, it's disingenuous and it's flat-out wrong."

      Soon, who was joined at the podium by John Wootten, a retired vice
      president of Peabody Energy of St. Louis, one of the world's largest
      private coal producers, took direct aim at recent proposals by the
      Environmental Protection Agency to curb mercury emissions from U.S.
      power plants by up to 70 percent.

      Airborne mercury settles in water, where it turns into a toxic form
      that is stored in fish and passed on when people eat them, the EPA

      The problem, Soon contended, is that the EPA's proposal doesn't look
      at the global picture.

      Foreign countries, especially China, are pumping out more and more
      mercury from coal-fired power plants. So even if the U.S. plants
      completely stopped emitting mercury, it would be trivial to the
      overall world mercury situation, while financially harming the power
      industry, Soon said.

      "We're really talking about something that is very minute compared to
      what is already out there," Soon said.

      Soon said mercury levels in yellowfin tuna, for example, have not
      increased since 1971, according to one study, suggesting that mercury
      is a constant in the environment.

      Wootten, the coal-industry representative, said mercury emissions
      have been decreasing from U.S. plants using current technology, and
      requiring new, unproven and expensive mercury-removal devices would
      drive up electricity prices and prohibit plants from being built.

      Environmental groups counter that even if U.S. emissions provide a
      small slice of the mercury load, it still amounts to tons of mercury
      in the air, and "it only takes a teaspoon of mercury to contaminate a
      lake," Pregulman said. "To say that mercury emissions have no effect
      on human health is ridiculous."

      For its part, the EPA maintains that mercury is proven to have
      damaging effects on fetuses. And it points out that its proposal
      would be the first time mercury emissions have been regulated.

      "It's a potent neurotoxin," said Bill Dunbar, the EPA's spokesman in
      Seattle. "It's done damage to people over many centuries. It's
      certainly the position of the agency that it's a harmful metal."



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