why polluters want the epa to ignore over 1,400 deaths per year

Polluters have two ways of cleaning up their act. They can pollute less and diversify into renewables, or pretend they're not actually causing illness and deaths. Guess which they prefer.

planet smokestacks

What’s the best way to lower the incidence of asthma, certain cancers, and even dementia and Alzheimer’s disease? To lower emissions from plants that spew smog into the atmosphere as much as possible. Not only would this help combat the dangers of global warming, it would also make communities healthier and increase the public’s lifespan and quality of life, making a lot of people much happier and more productive. But there’s another way. You can take a cue from the Trump administration and simply declare at that at certain concentrations, air pollution simply doesn’t cause these complications, and belching out just a little smog should be ignored, and therefore illnesses linked to them must be from something else.

Just like that, as many as 1,400 deaths a year attributed to a complete disregard to the planet and everyone who lives on it for the sake of a quick buck will never register, another in the line of the fossil fuel industry funded attacks on the quality of our air and extremely popular green energy projects that has scientists and science communicators abandoning social decorum and swearing like sailors. This is part of the reason why there may be over half a million deaths per year linked to climate change in the next decade. Not all of them will be caused by droughts and mass migration, terrorism, and war in developing nations. A lot will come from developed countries where fossil fuel giants simply refuse to stop polluting.

And while they may be acting like cartoon villains with no real motivation other than to do the wrong thing in every possible situation like some sort of sociopathic Goofuses whose empathy circuits were eaten away by greed and power, their reasoning is very simple. Complying with regulation meant to protect the air and people’s lungs and brains can be very expensive, and green energy projects mean less demand for fossil fuels. Since they don’t want to pay for us not suffering from the waste they dump into the water and air, and don’t want to lose business, they’re investing in professional liars and hacks to convince politicians to subsidize them to the tune of $5.2 trillion and strike down regulations as a giant “fuck you” to the public.

Of course, since they can only say that figuratively, not literally, they’re telling the EPA that at a certain point, particulates in the air don’t cause respiratory and secondary problems because they’re simply too small. Scientists who study the effects of pollution disagree, pointing out that the public would be exposed to these fine particulates for years on end, and could easily build up a harmful concentration of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in their bodies. It may be slow, but there’s little question that it will have deleterious long-term effects. The only debate is how severe those effects will be and how long it will take for them to kick in.

And this is what makes this attempt to roll back regulations meant to protect their air we breathe so egregious. Fossil fuel companies and polluters are essentially telling us that while there’s a real danger to our health from what they’re doing, they’d like to get away with risking our lives as much as possible in a bid to save money and keep as many of their income streams as they can at the cost of cleaning up the planet, ideally also subsidized by hefty dollops of the corporate welfare on which they rely. It’s absurdist Kafkaesque Kabuki theater in which we pay companies to poison us until some of our worst and most corrupt leaders decide it’s becoming a little unseemly, and their effort to strike 1,400 deaths per year from the record is just another example of that.

# science // pollution / public health / regulation


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