Thursday, August 17, 2006

Freedom Should Not Mean Corporate Anarchy 2

Part 2 of 9

This isn't the first time Southern Nevada officials have tried to take Central Nevada's water. They've been stopped before. Almost 20 years ago, there was another push to put in a pipeline network. But, the community of Southern Nevada wouldn't put up with it. We saw this as outright theft (and utterly destructive to Nevada's sensitive ecosystem) and we refused to be a part of it.

This time, the people who stand to make millions are doing everything they can to get around any grass roots resistance from the local Las Vegas community... But they're not doing it with their own money.

Money that the residents of Las Vegas are paying to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (for water) is being used to finance the advertisements that are essentially efforts to mildly brainwash the very same residents of Las Vegas – into thinking this is a good idea... That's right. I said it – brainwashing. Advertising works – by messing with our heads.

Why do we need to be told, over and over again, that this is a good thing? Let's face it, if this effort were such a good idea, it could stand on it's own merit – and there wouldn't be a need to soften up public opinion with an expensive ad campaign. And, even more insidiously, if the local media are being softened up with ad money too, how thorough can you expect their investigative reporting to be?

In a way, Las Vegas residents are paying for their own force feeding of disinformation – and they don't seem to care. We've quietly just accepted it. We think to ourselves; “Oh, this is just how the mainstream press works.” Maybe it is, but we should be fighting mad about it.

Consider this: When the mainstream press tells us that a coal fired power plant has “zero emissions,” we've just accepted that at face value... Hey, wait a minute, “zero emissions” is not a scientific term, its a politicians' term. It means anything below what the energy companies determine as acceptable is considered... negligible.

Our nation's power plants emit 42% of the toxins in U.S. air pollution, according to the EPA's 2002 Toxic Release Inventory – over ten times what our cars, trucks, buses, boats, and trains emit. That's 48 tons of mercury a year! And there's more; 361,000 tons of as many as 60 other toxins, including lead, arsenic, vanadium, barium, zinc, nickel, hydrogen fluoride, hydrochloric acid, selenium, etc., etc., etc. And none of these toxins will actually be regulated after the reversal of the 2000 EPA decision, which had placed electric utilities on the critical list of sources of hazardous air pollutants. It seems that Bush and Cheney, with all their scientific wisdom, somehow have been able to convince the EPA that they were wrong. The EPA now concludes that all of these other non-mercury toxic emissions pose no hazards to public health.

Oh, by the way, don't expect the Clean Air Act to require new power plants to use the best technology available anymore. A leaked memo from the (Bush/Cheney) EPA to an industry lobbyist said new power plants may use a lower standard. And, just in case you didn't know any better; if they don't have to, don't expect the power companies to spend the extra money.

Even if, somehow, the coal fired power plant designers were able to create some new technology to accomplish “zero emissions” of air pollutants, they wouldn't be able to make these chemicals disappear. All they can do is convert them to a different type of pollution. In this case, toxic sludge. Every year, even though so many tons of toxic power plant emissions float off into the air, U.S. coal fired power plants produce 130 million tons of toxic sludge. That's right, in addition to pollution floating off in the wind for 600 miles, there will also be huge holding ponds of toxic sludge near the power plants. These ponds are notorious for leaking – and they would leak right into the Great Basin underground water supply.

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