The organizer of the pro-life letter was the Cornwall Alliance, which itself disputes the dire claims of the mercury scare campaign, which asserts that 1 in 6 U.S. babies is over exposed to mercury. Cornwall counters that actually only 1 in 1000 babies is exposed to a level above the EPA’s “reference dose.” And no harm has been detected at a level below even 14 times that reference dose. Even at that higher level, the harm in delayed neurological development is overshadowed by normal variation. Cornwall also points out that most mercury in babies comes from natural sources. And it notes that even EPA admits that its new limits would be “unlikely to substantially affect total risk.” Cornwall reports that EPA’s target demographic is a tiny sliver of American pregnant women who “consume over 300 pounds of self-caught fish per year—and all those fish have to come from the very highest mercury-content freshwater sources in the country.” Cornwall forecasts that EPA’s proposed regulation would cost the U.S. economy over $40 billion and result in several thousand additional deaths from diminished wealth.
Critics might compare the mercury scare campaign to a smaller version of apocalyptic Global Warming claims. Both demand expenditure of vast sums without evidence of guaranteed outcomes or consideration of unintended harmful consequences from their policies. And of course both depend on animosity not just towards fossil fuels but to development and economic growth.
Persuading evangelicals that “pro-life” conviction demands embracing the latest EPA regulations is a clever marketing gimmick. But most discerning pro-lifers will resist the attempted manipulation of their cause.
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