Nothing is off limits when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “war on coal,” including activists’ use of children as props to reach their ends, according to Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe.
During a Tuesday afternoon floor speech urging members to pass his resolution of disapproval to stop the EPA from implementing its Utility MACT standards — designed to reduce emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), which Republicans argue will result in increased energy costs and coal plant closures — Inhofe highlighted recent guidance from the US Climate Action Network detailing to activists how to best pull at America’s heart-strings and demonize coal during public hearings.
According to the document, opponents of coal are encouraged activists to bring young children to at least two public hearings in Washington, D.C. and Chicago as visual props for testimony.
“Holding your baby with you at the podium, or pushing them in strollers, baby car seats, baby-bjorns. Older children also welcome,” the directive, titled “US EPA Carbon Pollution Standard Public Hearings How To Prepare My Testimony” explained. Among other desired props are, “asthma inhalers, medicine bottles, healthcare bills, and medication for air-toxics related illnesses.”
Based on the Sierra Club’s own recount and pictures of the event, participants followed the document’s advice.
“While activists rallied outside, hundreds of people packed the rooms in Chicago’s Metcalfe Federal Building and EPA Headquarters in Washington, including moms with small children, sportsmen in camouflage, and activists with signs and banners,” the May 24th Sierra Club post reads.
Inhofe argued that it is tactics like this which show the anti-coal advocates cannot argue on the merits.
“EPA and their Big Green allies can’t tell the public the truth that they are crucifying oil and gas companies or that their efforts to kill coal will be ‘painful every step of the way.’ So they have been deceiving the public with talking points from their playbook,” he said referring to the document — alleging that Democratic members likely got the memo as well.
“My good friend, Senator Boxer, must have gotten this memo, as it is not unusual to see her on the Senate floor with a visual of a little child holding an asthma inhaler,” he said. “And Senator Boxer isn’t alone – we’ve seen these visuals from many of our friends on the other side of the aisle.”
Inhofe added that as his vote becomes more imminent there will be more images of suffering children.
“Get ready to see lots of pictures of babies and children wearing inhalers. But these are the same members who voted against my Clear Skies bill that would have given us a 70% percent reduction in [sulfur oxide], [nitrogen oxide] and mercury by 2018,” he said.
The EPA claims that the rule will save thousands of lives and save $37 billion to $90 billion each year in health benefits, especially for the young and old.
“Overdue reductions lead to vital health benefits—Until now there were no national limits on emissions of mercury and other air toxics from power plants,” the EPA explains on their Mercury and Air Toxins Fact Sheet. “Uncontrolled releases of toxic air pollutants like mercury – a neurotoxin – can impair children’s ability to learn.”
Inhofe believes the health benefits to be a “myth.”
“The truth is that the health benefits EPA claims are exaggerated and misleading,” Inhofe said on June 4. “That’s because EPA’s analysis shows that over 99 percent of the benefits from the rule come from reducing fine particulate matter, not air toxics. Of course, fine particulate matter is regulated under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards [NAAQS] program, and in fact 90% of Utility MACT’s purported particulate matter benefits occur in air already deemed safe in the NAAQS program.”