Thursday, August 21, 2008

Confirmed: Republicans Favor Business Over Peoples Lives

If you are a Wisconsin Republican, this has got to give you a serious moment of reflection.

The AP reports:

Republican lawmakers took a symbolic stand against a plan to reduce utilities' mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015, voting to demand revisions amid businesses' concerns the rules will drive up electric bills. The Republican Assembly Natural Resources Committee (wants) a study of the rules' economic impact.

I hope they mean the economic impact on treating people for cancer and all the other diseases caused by pollution. Here’s part of an earlier blog I wrote dealing with the health effects and costs of pollution in Canada, our northern neighbors:

A new report in Canada, titled “No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution,” shows another side to the climate change debate. If your not convince that there is such a thing as global warming, then what about dying from the same problematic pollution? CBC provides these details:

An estimated 700,000 Canadians will die prematurely over the next two decades because of illnesses caused by poor air quality, the Canadian Medical Association said in a report Wednesday. This year, an estimated 21,000 Canadians will die from heart and lung illnesses brought on by breathing polluted air. Most of the deaths will be among people over 65, who are most vulnerable to heart disease.

In the long term, air pollution leads to higher rates of cardiovascular disease. In the short term, air pollution affects how blood clots leading to more heart attacks during bad air days. The costs of dirty air will add up to $10 billion this year. The costs will rise to $250 billion by the year 2031 if no improvements are made.

For Republicans, saving corporate spending now is worth the pain, suffering and deaths of tens of thousands of people, not to mentions the tens of billions of dollars in health care costs.

Wow, they are fiscally responsible.

The vote likely won't stop the rules from becoming reality as they're currently written, though.

The test for Republicans is simple: Public health and safety are measured against the cost of doing business. If businesses have to spend money, so they don’t prematurely kill the public, the Republicans want to make sure this extra burden is worth the expense. And there is never a time it is. Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, co-chairman of the rules committee, said "Let's get done with this and move on with protecting public health and public waters." Well, that was simple.

Because tourism depends on our state lakes, it would seem to make sense to protect our natural resources, right? What could possibly go wrong keeping the status quo on manufactured pollution? Oh sure, “Mercury, a byproduct of burning coal at power plants, can cause nerve damage and increase the risk of heart disease. It accumulates in fish, and the DNR has warned people for years to limit consumption of fish from any state lake, river or stream because of contamination.”

The DNR estimates (the changes) would amount to another $5 to $12 annually for the average household. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce said it would cost utilities hundreds of millions of dollars per power plant to reach the goals. The DNR plan also will reduce respiratory diseases and cancer risks, saving money. The rules would protect Wisconsin's $2.3 billion fishing industry.

For Republicans, I guess their thinking that if your going to die anyway, you might as well save a little money at the expense of losing a few years or decades of life.

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