Boiling Mad

BY ON March 8, 2012

Mitt Romney in car with dog strapped to roof graphic

You know how Mitt Romney strapped his dog’s crate to the roof of his car, and took off on a family vacation–his pet riding along on top?

I thought it was kind of strange, too–until I learned that all politicians are trained to be comfortable with the idea of strapping stuff to other things that are moving along. Like riders, for instance, on bills. They come across Governors’ desks all the time. Any Senator–or former Senator, like President Obama, or Rick Santorum–is used to this kind of maneuver.

Right now, the Senate is considering a Transportation Bill that’s been chugging through Congress. There’s all kinds of bad stuff strapped to the roof of this bill. Moms should be boiling mad about an amendment to block mercury regulations for industrial boilers on the Transportation Bill.

After coal-fired power plants, industrial boilers are the second biggest source of mercury pollution. They’re also spewing arsenic, lead, cadmium, chromium, particle pollution and dioxins. I never even knew what an industrial boiler was until last week–much less knew how polluting one can be. But we’ve all seen them–there are more than 1.5 million of them in the US. They’re big, fat, ugly, and often rusty. They’re also awesome works of simple engineering, for they produce electricity or provide heat for everything from hospitals to lumber yards. The worst offenders tend to be at chemical plants (hello, east Texas), refineries and other industrial facilities. And they can be cleaned up.

After boilers, cement plants are the worst sources of mercury pollution. So yes, we need to start learning more about these things.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that drifts down from the air into our water, where it converts to methylmercury and makes its way up the food chain, contaminating fish. This is why pregnant women–and children–are advised not to eat tuna or swordfish. Mercury harms the developing hearts, lungs and brains of fetuses, infants, and toddlers.

No one–not even a politician who straps a dog to the roof of his car, not even a candidate on the campaign trail–should defend spewing mercury into our air. It is simply heartless. So don’t let your Senator vote for a Transportation Bill that has boiler pollution strapped to it. We’re all in the car together here–and we want the same destination: a place with clean air.


Photo: via St. Thomas Dog Owners Association

TOPICS: Mercury Poisoning, Politics, Pollution