Suing For The Right To Pollute

a mother lays in the grass and holds up her baby boy

By Dominique Browning Via Moms Clean Air Force
Mandy Warner is a new mom; her daughter Daphne was born about 6 months ago. She has been following the progress of the mercury regulations for years. She recently returned from maternity leave only to find out that she must redouble her efforts to support the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Polluting utilities are now suing for their right to pollute our air with poisons. And as usual, they claim that the controls are too expensive to adopt. But they’re telling their investors a completely different story.

I’ll let Mandy–the analyst–explain:

As power plant pollution control projects continue, we are seeing–yet again–that the cost of meeting clean air standards, like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants (MATS), has fallen.

This past quarter, American Electric Power (AEP) and FirstEnergy each told their investors that their anticipated costs for meeting environmental standards dropped.

AEP has lowered its estimated costs of following environmental standards by half, from a high of $8 billion down to $4 to $5 billion.

AEP was the top emitter of mercury, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide in 2011 among the top 100 power producers in the U.S.

And … AEP is a leader in the lawsuit to halt the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

FirstEnergy has dropped its estimated costs of following environmental standards from a high of $3 billion down to $925 million (which is $50 million lower than they estimated last quarter).

FirstEnergy was the sixth highest emitter of mercury in 2011 among the top 100 power producers.

And …First Energy is challenging the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in court.”

Mandy’s research into the facts and figures tell the real story of a cynical resistance to pollution control — though why utilities would want to keep pouring poisons into our air is beyond me. We parents have to take back our power — literally. We cannot let polluters carry on with their cynical business-as-usual approach, while spewing into our air powerful neurotoxins that damage the brains, lungs and hearts of unborn babies, infants and toddlers.

Mandy — the new mother, who is a bit sleepless, remember those days?–should have the final word:

It is hard not to feel overwhelmed at times with all of the worries that come with being a (new) mom. It is hard not to feel powerless at times with all of the threats in the world, including those real threats to our basic need for clean, healthy air. But I have learned that we as mothers are far from powerless. Our voice is stronger than even the most well-funded opponents that would distort the truth about the real impacts and costs of pollution. It is our duty as mothers to unite for what’s right until we’ve won the day.”


9 Responses to Suing For The Right To Pollute

  1. BBHY says:

    I expect right wing groups to vigorously fight these lawsuits. They were SO outraged over the trace amounts of mercury in the new light bulbs. Power plants dumping mercury directly into the air must have them up in arms, marching in the streets with torches and pitchforks.


  2. catman306 says:

    That’s perfect!

  3. Leif says:

    Corporations sue for the right to pollute for profit. However when “We the People” attempt to sue corporations in turn for the effects of their pollution on homes, health, environment and even Earth’s life support systems, we are told we have no standing. Very strange.

  4. A Siegel says:

    A thought …

    Why not be much more direct?

    E.g., rather than “suing for the right to pollute”, aren’t the following more accurate / more powerful titles?

    “Suing for the right to kill …”

    “Suing for the right to poison my / our children …”

    “Suing for the right to damage the unborn … ”

    Etc …


    Powerful and truthful point about the travesty of our “justice” system that we cannot sue to protect ourselves from pollution while polluters can sue to keep on forcing their damaging externalities on us …

    And, of course, this points to the challenge across our legal system (including, for example, the WTO and our trade agreements) where the existing systems that cause damage through externalities are, almost uniformly, favored over paths to create a more sustainable future.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The ‘injustice’ system in the Anglosphere, under the so-called ‘Common Law’ is, in my opinion, a travesty. The Common Law is class law, established by the rich and powerful over centuries, to keep the rabble in line and protect wealth and power. The functionaries are mostly from the ‘better’ classes, and the poor and indigent receive anything but ‘justice’. Not only is the process too expensive for 99% of the population to be able to afford to pursue civil matters, but the rich and powerful engage in active ‘lawfare’ to intimidate and coerce the ‘insurgents’ who oppose the depredations of the rich, with the threat of financial ruin. Legal aid has been slashed by Rightwing regimes, exacerbating the tendency. In the USA, courts are openly partisan, with ‘justices’ coming to precisely opposite opinions, inventing ‘precedents’ or ignoring them, according to ideological bias, nowhere more nakedly apparent that at the SCOTUS. In Australia, the more recent Rightwing regimes appointed Justices strictly according to ideology (while denying it of course) one notable example being appointed after a job application in the form of a Rightwing diatribe published in Murdoch’s ‘The Australian’. Needless to say, he proved ideologically reliable while on the Court. Yet another manifestation of a system rotten to the very core.

  6. Peggy Trivilino says:

    Energy companies resist air and water pollution control standards because adhering to those standards would cut into their profits thus diminishing shareholder gains and executive pay packages. As usual, in our corporatist plutocracy the lives and health of the many aren’t considered nearly as valuable as the monetary aggrandizement of the few.

  7. rollin says:

    Here is what the NRDC has to say about the effects of mercury pollution:

  8. BillD says:

    Did everyone sign the petition that is being sent to the AEP CEO? Surely, increasing electrical prices a few percent to remove mercury is a good trade-off.

  9. J4Zonian says:

    Doesn’t it seem likely this is at least partly the corporate right’s denying delayalist response to the EPA moving (however excruciatingly slowly) toward calling CO2 a pollutant? Of course they’re not unhappy with OKing every other pollutant on Earth, rolling back a more than a century of progress toward a safe and healthy planet. But the main fight from now on is almost always going to be climate. How involved is ALEC, funded partly of course by oil, coal (and gas?) corporations? Donors’ Trust?