by E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.
September 28, 2011
Recently the Left-leaning Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) ran an advertising campaign on Christian radio stations and orchestrated a letter to members of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, urging support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial proposed new regulations to force reductions on mercury emissions from electric power plants. EEN portrays the regulation as pro-life, claiming that 1 in 6 American babies is born with dangerously high levels of mercury in their blood, putting them at risk of serious neurological damage.
Any agenda that can wear the pro-life mantel is bound to tug at heart strings. But there are serious problems with this campaign.
First and foremost, the claim that 1 in 6 American infants is born at risk from mercury is based on EEN’s faulty understanding and careless handling of EPA’s risk-analysis statistics. As I explained in greater detail in May
, EEN misunderstands EPA’s “reference dose” (5.8 parts per billion) as the level above which endangerment occurs; in reality, as EPA’s own documents show, the “reference dose” is 1/10th the lowest dose at which actual risk is believed to occur. Further, the harm that might occur even at the lowest dose at which risk might occur is so slight as to be undetectable among many other factors, and it appears to disappear in early childhood. Consequently, it is likely that no American infants are at significant risk from mercury exposure.
Second, EEN neglects the fact that EPA itself states that achieving even a 90% reduction in mercury emissions would have no discernible health benefits. The only way EPA is able to claim health benefits associated with the proposed mercury regulation is by appealing to “co-benefits” from other pollution reductions that would be brought about by other regulations.
Third, EEN neglects that the new mercury regulation would increase electricity prices, thus increasing the cost of living while reducing employment since many older coal-fired power plants would have to shut down because they couldn’t be brought into compliance. Every year we hear of the poor and the elderly dying or being struck down by heatstroke in summer heat waves or hypothermia during winter cold snaps. How much worse would this be if coal power were regulated out of business, making electricity rates “skyrocket,” as President Obama promised on the campaign trail?
Fourth, there is the irony of EEN’s presenting this as a pro-life issue. Six years ago, EEN was the prime mover behind the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), which produced “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action” to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming. The campaign was financed by a $475,000 grant to the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, which was channeled to the ECI
. Source of the grant? The Hewlett Foundation, which supports abortion on demand around the world as a means of population control. Other funding for the ECI
came from two other long-time supporters of population control and abortion, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Pew Charitable Trusts.
Two years ago, Rockefeller Brothers gave EEN $200,000
to promote “solutions to climate change,” and less than two months ago the same Fund gave EEN another $50,000
“to elevate the voice of the evangelical community in its efforts to protect the Environmental Protection Agency.” Grant makers at those foundations target their grants to advance their agendas, and as Matthew Connelly showed in Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population
, population control and reduction are among their top priorities, and they have led to widespread and often forced abortions and sterilizations. They understand that the policies sought in the ECI and in this mercury campaign would force a switch from abundant, affordable, reliable nuclear and fossil fuels to scarcer, more expensive, less reliable “green” energy sources like wind and solar. That in turn would slow economic growth and so prolong poverty in the developing world, with its accompanying high rates of premature death, and reduce prosperity in the developed world, with similar, if less severe, results.
Are EPA’s new mercury regulations pro-life? Not a chance.