More hot (dirty, smoggy) air from the USA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), long the most useless US government agency and target of pop-culture ridicule from Ghostbusters to the new Simpsons Movie, is continuing its evolution into a corporate lackey and pollution facilitator. Only problem is, its crapulence is now threatening the health of Ontarians. The Toronto Star reports today that the EPA is attempting to relax emission rules for coal-burning power plants in the USA. The new regs are designed to making aging plants more 'efficient' and 'flexible'. In short, the relaxed rules will help make the power plants more profitable for the Big Coal lobby.

All of this would be fine if the toxic emissions of stayed south of the border, fouling the lungs of everyone stupid enough to vote for the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, nature does not respect the geographic origins of idiocy.

Every time the wind blows from the southwest, the offal of these powerplants floats into Ontario. The result is quite the butcher's bill:

It causes an estimated 2,700 premature deaths and 12,000 hospital admissions here each year. It also harms forests, farm crops, water quality and buildings. The damage totals nearly $10 billion – including $6.6 billion in health bills. 

All told, the 600 coal plants in the American midwest account for about 50 per cent of the airborne pollution in Ontario. Thank you, Uncle Sam. And of course, the really irritating thing is there is exactly nothing we can do about it, short of acquiring a strategic nuclear arsenal.