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Home / Articles / Views / The Highroad /  GOP ‘mad as a hatter’ about EPA mercury regs
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Thursday, January 26,2012

GOP ‘mad as a hatter’ about EPA mercury regs

By Jim Hightower

Why do congressional Republicans hate unborn babies?

Yeah, I know they profess to love the unborn, even considering them “persons” from the very moment of conception.

Yet, whose interest do you think these same politicos have chosen to protect when it comes to regulating an especially nasty industrial toxin that wreaks holy hell on unborn babies? That nasty is mercury, a neurotoxin that spews into our air from old, coal-burning electric utilities. This toxic mercury falls into water, where it’s turned into methylmercury that builds up in fish. Many pregnant women unwittingly eat these contaminated fish, and the methylmercury messes terribly with the emerging nervous systems of their fetuses, producing babies with impaired IQs, unable to think and learn as they should.

Now, though, after 20 years of delay forced by electric company lobbyists, the Environmental Protection Agency finally came out in December with regulations to control the mercury emissions from power plants. Hallelujah — save the babies! But wait, the lovers of the unborn are not celebrating this move to stop industry from doing gratuitous damage to children’s IQs!

Far from it. Congressional Republicans are now howling to overturn the EPA’s regulation of mercury, and a bunch of them say they want to kill the EPA itself to stop such “governmental interference” in the corporate pursuit of profits. Unborn babies make great politics, but they don’t make big campaign donations. The GOP goes with whom it really loves.

How ironic that the defenders of mercury pollution are “mad as a hatter” about the EPA’s protection of children. Maybe they don’t know that the phrase comes from 19th century hat makers who used mercury compounds in their work, often causing mental damage that literally drove them mad.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown — visit www.jimhightower.com.
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