In a Washington Times op-ed, serial misinformer Steve Milloy called for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to resign for "rail[ing] against the coal industry." But in his attempt to reinforce the narrative that EPA has launched a "war on coal," Milloy grossly distorted Jackson's remarks about coal pollution regulations. Milloy wrote:
It is time for Lisa P. Jackson to resign. Last Friday at Howard University, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) railed against the coal industry, saying, "In [the coal industry's] entire history - 50, 60, 70 years or even 30 - they never found the time or the reason to clean up their act. They're literally on life support. And the people keeping them on life support are all of us."
This is patently false, of course, as emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are quite heavily regulated. Those emissions controls are the reason U.S. air is clean and safe and why, say, the air in regulation-free China is not.
But Milloy took Administrator Jackson's quote entirely out of context. Jackson was specifically referring to the aging coal-fired power plants that have failed to install long overdue pollution control technology, not to the coal industry as a whole -- as many coal plants have already installed this technology. Here's what she actually said:
One of the reasons the mercury standards are so important is that the vast majority of plants that are going to have to meet the standards - - that don't meet them now - - are very, very old, uncontrolled coal fired power plants.
But you know, 50, 60, we actually I think had one that was approaching 70 years old. And in their entire history - 50, 60, 70 years or even 30 - even though we had A Clean Air Act of 1970, even though we had Clean Air Act amendments in 1990, they've never found the time or the reason to clean up their act. That's what we're dealing with. They are literally on life support. And the people keeping them on life support are all of us, because we get to breathe in the pollution that they put out, or our rivers and streams get contaminated with the mercury and arsenic and lead and acid gases that they put out. That's a very important rule, and it has come only because of the President's strong support.
Video courtesy of Sierra Club.
Milloy also denies the impact of coal pollution on human health, claiming "there is no American adult or child whose health is compromised by ambient air quality."
But health experts disagree. In a letter of support for the EPA's proposed air toxics rule, a coalition of public health groups including the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote that a "wealth of peer-reviewed research ... establishes a clear link between air pollution and a range of serious adverse human health effects." ALA has stated that new EPA regulations "will protect Americans against life-threatening air pollution ... linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death."
And the EPA estimates that the air toxics rule will prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks per year.