Mercury In Retrograde

On my local radio station, there’s an ad that’s in fairly heavy rotation. It features “Pastor Dawn” of the “Evangelical Environmental Network,” and wants me to thank my Senator (Kelly Ayotte, R-NH) for her “leadership” in preserving the EPA’s ability to regulate mercury levels in the air — in the interests of protecting our children from mercury poisoning.


Sounds all nice and warm and fuzzy and noncontroversial, right? Here’s a pastor — a member of the clergy — talking about protecting children. Their web site hits several buzzwords designed to appeal to conservatives — pro-life,” “Christian,” quotes from Scripture, and the like. Scary statistics (one in seven babies born with “harmful” levels of mercury, coal-fired plants being the biggest source of atmospheric mercury) and links to EPA reports to verify them all. Essentially, a pretty good selling job on their target audience — conservative, religious parents.


Pity I’m outside their target audience — their emotional appeals don’t mean much to an agnostic single guy with no kids. Instead, they make me suspicious.


I don’t have the scientific knowledge and training to challenge their assertions, so I’ll ignore those. What I do know, though, is that the National Center for Public Policy Research (which employs Steven Crowder, and therefore has some credibility in my eyes) has a rather extensive dossier on them that alleges that these people have a pretty rotten history of finding Biblical rationales for some pretty bad causes.


But what I do know enough to ask some questions.


1) With the United States currently getting 46% of our electricity from coal, and our power plants currently running at near peak capacity to meet demand, what will happen to our electrical supply — and rates — when we start shutting down coal plants?


2) What will happen to all the people who will be put out of work with those plants shut down — the workers, the people who mine the coal, the people who transport it, and all the rest?


3) What is the EEN’s position on compact fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury and will release it into the home should they be broken? At one point, the EPA recommended that should that happen, residents should evacuate and seal the room until they can call in a hazardous-materials team to clean it up. They’ve eased off on that, but one has to wonder if that was done out of political expediency rather than real science.


I tend to be suspicious of people and groups that try to push public policy through religion. And I am doubly suspicious when it comes from the left — Reverend Jackson, Reverend Sharpton, and the whole “Liberation Theology” movement have left a seriously bad taste in my mouth.


Sorry, “Pastor Dawn.” You collar cuts no weight with me.

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