Mercury in the Air

MERCURY IN THE AIR….Good ‘ol Gregg Easterbrook talks about the environment again today:

News organizations continue to misrepresent, bury, or simply disregard George W. Bush’s recent action to reduce power-plant pollution….But while ignoring or distorting the essence of Bush’s program…the media hammer away on anger regarding the mercury provisions in the decision….The announcement made George W. Bush the first president to impose regulation on this toxic element….This might have won Bush praise from Democrats and pundits; needless to say it didn’t.

So W did good on the mercury program, right? Hooray for W!

Um, not exactly. In the usual weird Easterbrook style, this was all a preface to a post explaining why Bush’s proposed mercury cap-and-trade program is actually a lousy one. Go figure. But if you ignore the off topic ranting, he gets the argument right, so go read it.

Basically, it’s yet another case of ideology trumping reality. Cap-and-trade uses market mechanisms to reduce pollution, so conservatives naturally think it’s a good thing and environmentalists usually disagree. But they’re both wrong: sometimes it’s an effective tool and sometimes it isn’t. In the case of mercury it isn’t, but the Bush ideologues don’t care. It’s market based and industry friendly, so it must be the right thing. Who cares if it doesn’t actually solve the problem?