On Tuesday, The Hill’s Timothy Cama reported:
An environmental group is launching a new advertising campaign against the confirmation of President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Clean Air Moms Action, a project of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, said Tuesday it is spending at least $100,000 on the campaign which centers on children's health concerns, targeting the Washington, D.C., area, and six states with senators who could swing the confirmation vote.
See the ad for yourself here. In fact, it is based on an egregious lie, and the truth of the matter demonstrates the unreasonableness of professional environmentalist groups like the Environmental Defense Fund.
The ad shows a sonogram of an unborn baby in the womb. The soundtrack is a fetal heartbeat. Over this image and sound, a female narrator intones:
The American Pediatric Association reports that brains of developing children are disproportionately affected by mercury exposure. Scott Pruitt, who’s been nominated to run the EPA and taken $300,000 in industry contributions, actually questions whether mercury poses public health hazards. We can’t trust Pruitt with our kids’ health. Ask the Senate to vote “no” on Pruitt.
As a citation for this claim, text on the screen states: “Brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2012.” While this is an imprecise cite, it is nonetheless evident that the Environmental Defense Fund is referring to a brief filed by more than 20 state attorneys general and also scores of businesses and non-profits against a 2012 regulation known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, a.k.a. the Utility MACT. Here’s the exact phrasing from the brief.
EPA would … regulate EGU emissions that, by EPA's own analyses, pose no public health hazard.
So let’s count the duplicities in the Environmental Defense Fund’s attack ad.
For starters, EDF attributes the mercury quote directly and solely to Scott Pruitt, but in reality, the brief from whence the quote originated was authored by scores of parties, including more than 20 state attorneys general. What is more, the brief bases its claim on “EPA’s own analyses.” So it’s not Scott Pruitt argument. Nor is it the argument of all the parties on the brief. It is EPA’s own analyses.
Second, the Environmental Defense Fund claims that Pruitt “actually questions whether mercury poses public health hazards,” but that’s not true at all. In fact, Pruitt participated in a brief questioning whether EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards delivered quantifiable benefits in reductions of mercury emissions. Pruitt wasn’t questioning mercury’s effect on human health; rather, he was objecting to EPA’s mercury rule, which he argued had no impact on human health.
Third, and most importantly, the brief is absolutely correct: EPA’s own analyses demonstrate that the emissions controlled by the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards pose no public hazard. According to EPA, the “benefits” of mercury reductions attendant to the rule were accruable to a supposed population of pregnant subsistence fisherwomen who eat more than 200 pounds of self-caught fish from only the top ten percent most polluted bodies of fresh inland water. Of course, no such woman exists. Indeed, EPA never identified such a voracious pregnant angler. Instead, they were modeled to exist.
So the brief, and by extension Pruitt, is right: EPA’s mercury rule would occasion no benefits due to reductions in mercury emissions. But boy, oh boy, did the rule have costs—almost $10 billion a year. These costs were the whole point of the regulation. The senseless Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were part of a suite of regulations, collectively known as the war on coal, which served no purpose other than to make coal-fired electricity less competitive. EPA waged this war after president Obama rewarded environmental special interests with the reins to EPA in exchange for their having helped get him elected.
In sum, the Environmental Defense Fund’s mendacious attack ad on Scott Pruitt demonstrates much that is wrong with the green movement. EDF misconstrued and misattributed a quote that forms the basis of the ad, which shows the unethical lengths they’ll go to in order to achieve their agenda. And the real meaning of the quote exposes an absurd and harmful regulation that EDF supported for no other reason than it spurred a shift “beyond coal.”