Year 2, Month 3, Day 31: They DO Believe In “Free-Market Fairy Dust,” Though.

It’s gotta be pretty rare to find an anti-pollution editorial in a Coal State paper. The Lexington Herald-Leader gives us an example:

And after 20 years of hemming and hawing, it’s time to start controlling the 386,000 tons of toxins that rain down on this country each year from coal-fired power plants, the No. 1 source of air pollution.

It’s past time, really.

A bipartisan majority of Congress in 1990 ordered the EPA to get to work on nationwide standards for toxic emissions from power plants. If people should be alarmed about anything, it’s that it’s taken so long and that the health of so many has suffered during the delay.

As the crisis at the Fukushima reactors reminds us, invisible substances in the air can do grave harm to human health and lasting damage to the environment.

Although I didn’t mention Semmelweiss by name, he was very much present in my thinking as I composed this. Mailed March 22:

It is astonishing in this day and age that some people still deny the harmful potential of microscopic particulates in the atmosphere. By now, most of us agree that germs, bacteria and viruses are the principal media through which disease is propagated — a theory validated in the late 1800s in the face of vehement denial. Why can’t we accept that atmospheric mercury poses a danger to us, to our children, and to the environment in which we live? In large part it’s because the oil and coal industries devote significant resources to obscuring the truth and elevating falsehoods — for example, asserting that pollution regulations on coal plants are “job-killers,” while conveniently ignoring pollution’s catastrophic health and environmental impacts. Similar mendacity is at work denying the planetary impact of CO2 emissions. Why should we trust billionaires whose fortunes depend on our continued consumption of oil and coal?

Warren Senders

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