Blowing Smoke: Cuccinelli Disavows Benefits of EPA’s Mercury Rules

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    What do coal-fired power plants and AG Ken Cuccinelli have in common? They both blow smoke. Unfortunately, it’s not certain which form of smoke is more dangerous for Virginians. On the one hand, coal-fired power plants don’t know they are killing thousands of individuals each year. They’re not sentient human beings. Ken Cuccinelli, on the other hand, is a (quasi) sentient individual who has to be fully aware that regulating mercury will dramatically reduce American’s exposure to this toxic substance. Or is he?

    In an interview earlier today on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, Cuccinelli claimed that the EPA has produced no demonstrable benefits that “holds up for the mercury piece” that would justify sending electricity rates “through the roof.” No demonstrable benefits, really? How about thousands of saved lives and prevented birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory diseases as demonstrable benefits?

    Moreover, Cuccinelli claims to care about the well-being of “poor” Virginians like those living in the Appalachia and Southside areas, so much so in fact that he has not come out publicly in opposition to lifting the uranium mining ban in Virginia. Moreover, why doesn’t Cuccinelli complain about the seemingly frequent rate hikes asked for by Virginia’s utilities and rubber-stamped by the VA State Corporation Commission?  

    During the same interview on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, Cuccinelli made another unsubstantiated claim: Since 1998 there has been a nearly 60% reduction in mercury output in the U.S. without direct regulation. Aside from the fact that Cuccinelli sites no references for his claim (maybe it was the same conservative think tank that disavows global climate change?), how many lives would have been saved, among other factors, had there been an 80% reduction, assuming for the moment that the 60% cited by Cuccinelli is accurate. That is, what if government regulation helped reduce mercury output by 80%, 90%, 95%, instead of 60%, how many Americans lives would be better today?  

    The last time I checked, the federal government’s first priority is saving lives, not a few dollars here or there. Of course, what is “a few” dollars might equal out to quite a bit of dough, but how much would you pay to bring a loved-one back to health, to give that individual a chance to live a happy, uninhibited life free of mercury poisoning? The EPA uses the figure of $7.9 million as the value for the life of each American individual. I’m curious to know what Cuccinelli’s own estimate for the value of a human life is worth.  

    • kindler

      …than the sheer hypocrisy of these Tea Party Repubs who try to fool the masses into supporting the interests of the GOP’s corporate donors (coal companies and utilities in this case) by making up these phony populist arguments.

      Guess who gets hurt the most by corporate pollution?  Poor people who are forced to live next to the factories or landfills, to breathe bad air and drink impure water and live on contaminated land.  Oh and by the way, guess who’s also trying to make sure these same folks don’t get access to health care?

      I hope we get to see a race between Cuccinelli and Corey Stewart so we can resolve the issue of which one is Virginia’s worst demagogue.  

      Shameless.  

    • He just reads his question off his cue card, then lets Cuccinelli’s tidal wave of lies wash over him unchallenged. Maybe Kojo should stick to softball interviews & leave the Virginia political ones to someone else?

    • Living down here on the Northern Neck, I don’t have a clue as to who “Kojo” is, however, he must carry some weight somewhere to swing an interview with Kookynelly.

      So — has anyone called Kojo, emailed him, buttonholed him in the hallway, or otherwise provided him with the facts to destroy Kooky’s statements?  Seems to me it would be a good idea to have a knowledgeable someone appear on Kojo’s show and directly slap the shit out of Kooky.

      At some point, we Blue People need to realize we are NOT in a gentlemanly debate — we are in close-quarters ground combat and the only good Republican is one with his feet encased in concrete, swimming on the bottom of the Norfolk harbor.