Mercury Rising

I was about to do a different story on the John Locke Foundation when I stumbled over the latest toxic sludge that oozed out from under the curtain of the Puppetshow: "Fish Tales about Mercury, Why regulation of mercury is all cost and no benefit", or as claimed later in the article: "Methylmercury Generally Is Not a Public Health Concern". Go suck some thermometers boys and belly up to the barometers, mercury is rising! In elemental form mercury is not especially toxic until inhaled as vapor but in aquatic ecosystems it is converted to methylmercury, its most toxic form, which bioaccumulates in fish.
            (read more below the fold.......)

The author Daren Bakst is an attorney, not a scientist or a doctor, but an attorney with an MBA who is a Legal and Policy Analyst for the John Locke Foundation. (Another environmental "expert" at the John Locke Foundation is "Dr" Roy Cordato who is not a medical doctor, but an economist with a PhD)

The report references two fish eating studies, one in the Seychelles and in the Faroe Islands.

According to Integrity in Science, funding for the project [on mercury in the Seychelle Islands] was provided by the FDA (through a supplement to the JIFSAN Cooperative Agreement), the Electric Power Research Institute (present funding $486,000), the National Tuna Foundation ($10,000), and the National Fisheries Institute ($5,000).

JIFSAN is the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. JIFSAN receives core funding from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and University of Maryland, and receives funding for certain projects from industry and others. JIFSAN has an advisory council consisting heavily of food manufacturers and professors (some of whom consult for industry); also includes three consumer representatives. Industry members, most of the big food names, make annual contributions in the $5,000 range to help support JIFSAN.

Regarding the Faroe Islands study the John Locke report states:

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study in the Faroe Islands (Faroe Islands study) that found that there were subtle neuropsychological effects from prenatal methylmercury exposure. Unlike the similarity of diets found in Seychelles Islands study, the diet in the Faroe Islands is far different than the diet of Americans. The major source of methylmercury consumption in the Faroe Islands is whale blubber. The population in the Faroe Islands also is far less diverse than in the Seychelles Islands.

But that summary doesn't tell the whole story:

Measuring heart rates and testing variables such as motor speed, language skills, and attention span, the researchers found subtle but distinct signs of neurological damage. Effects were first apparent at or slightly above mercury levels of 1 microgram per gram of hair, the level of exposure considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The last part was omitted by the John Locke report.

According to the New York Times:

...most of the $500,000 paid for a scientific study of the risks and benefits of hypothetical changes in fish consumption, conducted by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, was paid for by the United States Tuna Foundation, but the foundation is not listed as a funder. Funders listed are the National Food Processors Association Research Foundation, a trade association now known as the Food Products Association, and the Fisheries Scholarship Fund, part of the National Fisheries Institute, a seafood industry trade association.

The John Locke Report also makes reference a study by the Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy at the University of Maryland. The report is located on a website managed by CFNAP, (also part of the CERES Forum not to be confused with and according to the New York Times:

The tuna foundation gave $45,000 to the University of Maryland's newly formed Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy to create the Web site Public relations for that site are handled by Ruder Finn, whose client is the tuna foundation.

According to the Maryland Daily Record the study was funded by about $40,000 from the U.S. Tuna Foundation.

CFNAP are the same people that brought you studies that said beer is good for you, soda is not so bad, fortified grain is grrrreat and was instrumental in obtaining a Qualified Health Claim approval for tomatoes from the FDA for a consortium called the "Lycopene Health Claim Coalition" led by the Heinz company.

Funders of these and other studies include:
National Soft Drink Association
Sugar Association
American Beverage Association
Sara Lee
Council for Biotechnology Information, (includes all major biotech seed producers)
National Beer Wholesalers Association Education Foundation

Other "authoritative" sources referenced in the report are the conservative think-tanks American Enterprise Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and, “Mercury in Fact and Fiction,” House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo and House Energy and Mineral Subcommittee Chairman Jim Gibbons. This is the same Richard Pombo so roundly trounced November 7th for his anti-environmental stance. In that incestuous way that the John Locke Foundation has with its preparation of reports the AEI reference is authored by Joel Schwartz another author of John Locke apologia.

For somewhat more grounded information on mercury try the following links:

Mercury in Fish NOW, PBS

Methylmercury US Geological Survey, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Mercury US Environmental Protection Agency

Fish Consumption Advisories NC DHHS, Public Health, Epidemiology


I just read your first paragraph...

and I don't even need to read more. We need to get scientists from around North Carolina to call for an immediate retraction from the John Locke Foundation. I'll start looking into a response from NIEHS, which happens to be located in the Research Triangle.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

free market

The free market did a study. If you trust the government over a business then you are a communist.

Therefore the JLF is correct and you are a communist.

right? right? ........

"Keep the Faith"


Thanks for writing this, Greg.

Whenever I examine the biographies and credentials of the Puppets, I feel like I should be wearing rubber gloves. For all of the millions Pope is pouring into this operation, you'd think he could find people of stature and integrity. Then again, I'm not aware of people with stature and integrity who could bring themselves to participate in such an intellectually dishonest organization. These guys are like the doctors and researchers who sold their souls to the tobacco industry back when smoking "had health benefits."

The Puppetshow spews this crap all across North Carolina every week. Too bad the mainstream media don't do the kind of analysis you've done here . . . analysis that would discredit the JLF through and through.

Here's a letter I wrote you can copy and write to

your NC representatives. Thanks for bringing this up so more people can be aware of a huge and serious health problem.

"Dear Senator/Representative ___________,

With over 22 species of fish on the State Health Director consumption advisory, NC has an urgent need to reduce mercury emissions as quickly as possible. The recent rule adopted by the EMC falls short with a longer than needed timeline and an unacceptable trading program.

It is unacceptable that the state kept in place a provision allowing coal-burning plants to receive credit for mercury reductions. Once received these credits can be sold to other plants. This allows the buyer to emit higher levels of mercury which can potentially lead to 'hot spots' of mercury deposit.

If you're serious about protecting the people of North Carolina from mercury poisoning, stop the use of trading mercury reduction credits.

Thank you for your attention to this important public health issue.

Stan Bozarth


What's the specific legislative path that would have to be followed for this issue to be resolved? Is it a new bill that would amend current rules? Do you know who specifically we'd need to push to get this into play?


PS Great letter, by the way. Thanks.

The Tuna Diet Mishap

I wish I could find the article...

Maybe a couple of years ago, a woman was on a tuna diet - you know, mass protein, hardly any carbs.

Anyway, at her regular annual check up, they found what the EPA termed as massive amounts of mercury in her system. So much so, the EPA did not believe it was from tuna. They found her residence and searched it for contaminates... only to find tuna cans.

That is how much mercury is in seafood.

I'll try to find the story...

Town Called Dobson - Daily Political Cartoon: Not all is red in rural America!

Mercury timing

It is not coincidental that this "report" appeared just before the NC Environmental Management Commission considered, and thankfully approved, measures to reduce power plant emissions of mercury by 2018. The rules were adopted last Thursday and exceed the federal standard of 70% reduction in mercury emissions by 2018.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer article, Power plants face new rules:

States had the option of taking the federal rule or adopting a more stringent one.

North Carolina went the more stringent route. Its rule, passed by the state Environmental Management Commission, a regulatory panel, requires all plants to install controls for mercury by 2018, with new plants installing the most up-to-date technology available.

The NC Conservation Network, while praising the new rules, is critical of the provison that allows utilities participate in the federal "cap-and-trade" program, thus undermining any gains and leaving open the potential for mercury "hot-spots" permitted with traded credits.

If you want to learn more or take action by sending letters to your State legislators you can do so here:
North Carolina's New Mercury Rule: Good & Bad

mercury tech

Fortunately, mercury reduction is cheap. Unfortunately, it's gotta go somewhere.

Basically, mercury controls are either a side-effect of existing SOx controls, or a relatively easy retrofit.

Activated Carbon Injection is a relatively cheap installation with a somewhat high operational cost. Throw in some activated carbon, elemental mercury bonds to it, then get rid of the carbon. This works great for cheap brown coal (lignite), but with bituminous coal which has a higher sulfur content, SO3 in the flue gas outcompetes mercury for bonding sites on the activated carbon. The main concern is that it will interfere with existing particle removal systems.

There's also the side-effect from wet sulfur scrubbers. These react a limestone slurry with SOx. The reaction produces gypsum which the power genco sells to sheetrock mfgs. (I love that little factoid). It's also pretty good at getting oxidized mercury out. Some types of wet scrubbers work better than others for the mercury. So in some (many? most?) cases, it might not be enough - closer to 70% than 90%.

So in general, it's not nearly as expensive to equip for mercury removal than for ,say, dust, SOx or NOx. The real worry is that they'll capture so much mercury that the cost to dispose of the byproducts will skyrocket. Too much mercury in the gypsum and they won't be able to sell it for wallboard. Too much in the ash and it might not be able to be sold in concrete. Too much in the other junk and they'll have to pay for special handling and sequestering rather then just burying it.

disclosure: I work for emissions control consultants.

some sources (pdf):
NESCAUM press release about mercury technologies. 2003.
DOE position on the cost issues. 2006.


tech talk

Thanks for the technical input. I love the eco-industrial reuse of gypsum and fly-ash in construction products. It's good for the environment and the economy.

As an example National Gypsum is building a plant in Mt. Holly, to use scrubber byproduct from four Duke Power plants as described in this Lincoln Tribune article.

As with most things, the dose is the poison. Household batteries and flourescent lamps designated low-mercury may be disposed of by individuals in landfills because they fall below the regulatory thresholds but when accumulated in recycling operations they become hazardous waste.

The toxic fire in Apex is an example of that gone awry but these materials have to go somewhere. It's not enough to say, like the Locke-smiths, that it's not a problem.

but then there's carbon

I think the whole industry is still tiptoeing around the whole CO2 issue. You can't not make CO2, fire + flammable stuff = CO2. Unfortunately, all the science about it still seems a little sci-fi. let's pump it all underground!

everything's a tradeoff.



everything's a tradeoff.

That's why I oppose absolutism on the left and the right. I don't just beat up on Locke-smiths. I have ruffled environmental feathers too. I don't believe in absolutist positions that can be construed as pure and principled but really serve to perpetuate conflict and lock various parties in eternal combat. If I get behind an issue I'd like to think that sometime in the future I'm no longer needed, because it's succeeded and there is agreement.

In case I didn't make my point...

Thanks for the technical input.

Very welcome. I get sick of seeing statements about stuff like this with no explanation of the "why". Arguments are made in the press calling mercury removal both cheap AND expensive and no one bothers to report the details.

But to get back on topic with the original post, the JLF foundation attacks the science from the standpoint of their agenda. We see this alot from the right and it drives me nuts. No, I don't think we have a monopoly on being correct, but I also don't think we progressives spend so much time looking for science to back up arguments we've already claimed.

How about some simple numbers from the sources they quote? Fig 3, p. 4: 11.1 tons of mercury deposited in the US from US utilities in 2001. From footnote 1, the EPA mercury rule basic info page first-stage caps aim to reduce US utility emissions from 48 tons to 38 tons/year. Assuming that's a 2005ish number (48 T/y) and with the JLF assertion that mercury emissions have trended downwards since 1990 (footnote 22, p.4), we'll take 48 tons/year as a ballpark 2001 figure. 48 tons emitted, 11 tons deposited here in the US. Seems like even though those numbers are less than what comes from a) other countries b) out the tops of volcanoes and c) from old waste sites, it's worth working to lower them.

Assuming that mercury emissions from power plants do
increase methylmercury levels in freshwater self-caught fish
to higher than recommended levels (within reason), this likely
still is not a problem. Eating an occasional freshwater selfcaught
fish high in methylmercury is not going to be a health
concern. Generally, the only concern would be for individuals
that eat freshwater self-caught fish as a regular part of their diet.
To put it simply, the only possible benefit, if there is any, even from the EPA’s perspective, is to address methylmercury
levels in freshwater self-caught fish for people that eat these fish as a regular part of their diet. There are no
exact numbers, but it probably is fair to say that the number of people in North Carolina that could possibly be affected
is miniscule.

Screw the little guy, huh? "Grandpa, when you caught your first fish, did you have to throw it back cause it might be bad for you?"


You're right about data

and I'm glad to see you jumping in with some facts. We don't do enough of that around here when it comes to science and economics.

And yet there are some questions that transcend data, questions that have to do with philosophical trade offs.

The JLFers think that almost any "cost" imposed by the government is an excessive cost. Whether it's to reduce second hand smoke, mercury in fish, greenhouse gases, the overall waste stream, whatever, their view is that the marketplace will "eventually" work things out. If a few hundred thousand kids become permanently brain damaged by lead paint? Who cares! The paint companies will "eventually" feel the pressure of consumer backlash and stop producing toxic paint. Yeah right . . . they'll just start shipping it to foreign countries like they've done with cigarettes and let poor brown people die instead.

In their free-market delusions, they always fail to factor in the social/cultural costs.

I used to spend time researching the economic assumptions so I could make logical arguments. But I quickly learned that's like talking to a brick wall. They don't care about logical arguments. They're going to cherry pick data to support whatever point of view they already have, and that's that.

Do people on the left do the same? Probably to some extent, and maybe I'm too biased, but it seems like the right wingers have taken Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics, to a dangerous art form.

And I thought today's most gag-worthy commentary from the JLF...

And I thought today's most gag-worthy "Dr." commentary from the JLF would be

Between the Church of England and Elton John, Britain has very bright prospects--as a Muslim state. Why? The vacuum left by Western beliefs could surely be filled quite quickly, with a ready and militant popultaion base in England already at hand.

Yep,England is going Islamofascist because of Mr. Candle in the Wind.

there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

Yeah, but.......

what does this have to do with mercury, bituminous coal and wet sulphur scrubbers? ;)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

A Response from the Author

Mr. Flynn,

I felt compelled to respond to your post because of the extreme nature of your personal attacks and your argument that my recent report on mercury regulation for coal-fired power plants is somehow misleading.

- You argue that I gave an incomplete picture of the Faroe Islands study.

I provided a summary of the necessary information and if individuals wanted to learn more about the details of the study, they could. In fact, this is exactly what you did as evidenced by your posting of a quote from an article that I cited in my report.

There also is nothing from your post that demonstrates that my summary was inaccurate or misleading in any way. I also “omitted” quotes from the article you cited such as:

“Bear in mind, HPSH [Harvard School of Public Health] investigators say, that research to date has found no significant ill effects from mercury at the lifetime levels to which most humans are exposed.”

“According to Eric Rimm, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HPSH, some people are overreacting by steering clear of fish.”

- You mock the statement in my report “Methylmercury generally is not a health concern.”

I’d imagine you would also mock this statement: "Research shows that most people’s fish consumption does not cause a health concern."

Who wrote this crazy statement? The EPA in their recently released Roadmap for Mercury.

- You don’t think attorneys and economists should be involved in environmental policy.

How do you think environmental regulations are developed? Attorneys and economists play a primary role in analyzing policy issues and formulating environmental regulation. All regulations have underlying cost-benefit assumptions whether they are explicitly stated or not.

If you are consistent, then I expect that you will criticize the work of the Southern Environmental Law Center and discount the work of their staff. This may come as a shock, but their staff primarily consists of attorneys who work on environmental policy.

I also would expect that you will criticize the Environmental Defense Fund for doing a study on economic issues when nobody drafting the study was an economist.

Of course, this criticism would be inappropriate. The work of these organizations should not be criticized on the basis of who writes their reports but on the soundness of their arguments.

- You seem to think that funding sources and ideology automatically prove the inaccuracy of any research done by an individual or organization.

Similar to the theme above, the soundness of arguments is the important issue. If all you can do is point out where some funding comes from, then apparently you have no substantive arguments. You can merely repeat a logical fallacy hoping that someone will mistake it for a substantive argument. Apparently, some readers here have done so.

I suspect inconsistency. Would you automatically discount research from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences because it is receiving $2.5 million from Duke Energy for climate change research? Duke favors a carbon tax and expects that government action on climate change will improve its competitive position by favoring nuclear energy and natural gas. Would you automatically discount work favoring minimum-wage hikes if it were published by think tanks with labor-union funding?

- Finally, if you can point to just one documented case in the scientific literature of mercury poisoning from fish anywhere in the world, please tell me (other than when methylmercury has been directly discharged in water).

Dear Mr. Bakst,

I can't speak for gregflynn. However, unless you consider being called an attorney an extreme personal attack, I don't see anywhere that gregflynn attacked you.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


First off, I think it is disingenuous to focus in on mercury and a new study that suggests it might not be as dangerous as previously suspected. Mercury is linked to birth defects at this time and the recent study cannot refute that all by itself. But, moreover, mercury exposure does not happen in a vacuum. The same laws that apply to reducing mercury must also take into account lead, polychlorinated biphenyls, endocrine disrupters, diethylstilbestrol, a whole range of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers, and more. Brain develop is an iterative process that can be effected by a host of teratogens. Each insult causes further damage that, because of the stem-cell based form of development, results in larger damage than the initial harm would imply. For instance, insults at the early cellular stages generally fall into two categories, those that do little appreciable harm and those that cause spontaneous abortion. Because every cell in the body will arise from those small set of progenitors.

Your whole argument is reminicent of the "Intelligent Design" debate in which pseudoscientists latch on to one or two pieces of data that have a range of results or error and say "See, there is nothing to this 'science' stuff."

Pollutants cause damage to the human body and nothing is as at risk as the developing fetus. To call for a decrease in these teratogenic pollutants is the right and moral position, to suggest anything else is immoral. To suggest that we allow companies to keep spewing mercury into the environment, even though there are a number of studies suggesting it causes birth defects, just because you have one study that suggests otherwise, is beyond the meaning of immoral and is instead evil.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.


Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are neurotoxins, and some studies suggest that these elements might also be teratogens. Using a case–control study design, we investigated the relation between exposure to these heavy metals and neural tube defects (NTDs) in offspring of Mexican–American women living in 1 of the 14 Texas counties bordering Mexico. A total of 184 case-women with NTD-affected pregnancies and 225 control-women with normal live births were interviewed about their environmental and occupational exposures during the periconceptional period. ...
However, among women in the highest income group, case-women were nine times more likely (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4–57) than control-women to have a urinary mercury greater-or-equal to 5.62 μg/L. ...Our findings suggest that maternal exposures to arsenic, cadmium, or lead are probably not significant risk factors for NTDs in offspring. However, the elevated urinary mercury levels found in this population and exposures to the combustion of treated wood may warrant further investigation.

Neural stem cells (NSCs) play an essential role in both the developing embryonic nervous system through to adulthood where the capacity for self-renewal may be important for normal function of the CNS, such as in learning, memory and response to injury. ...In the present study we used the NSC line C17.2 and primary embryonic cortical NSCs (cNSCs) to investigate the effects of the environmental contaminant methylmercury (MeHg) on survival and differentiation of NSCs. The results show that NSCs, in particular cNSCs, are highly sensitive to MeHg. ...Remarkably, exposure to MeHg at concentrations comparable to the current developmental exposure (via cord blood) of the general population in many countries inhibited spontaneous neuronal differentiation of NSCs. ...The observed effects of MeHg on NSC differentiation offer new perspectives for evaluating the biological significance of MeHg exposure at low levels.

OBJECTIVE: This article mainly attempts to review the recent human literature on the adverse effects of occupational factors on fertility, developmental effects and genetic changes in the germ line, which lead to genetic malformations or to genetic disease. ...The collected studies suggest that the exposure to the following substances or occupational settings may affect fertility function: lead, organic mercury compounds, manganese, carbon disulfide, 2-bromopropane and dibromochloropropane, welding, professional driving and working with heat.

The trace metal content and related safety (health risk) of Hackensack River fish were assessed within the Hackensack Meadowlands of New Jersey, USA. ...White perch should not be considered edible because the Hg level exceeded the "one meal per month" action level of 0.47 mug/g wet weight (ppm) in 32% of our catch and 2.5% exceeded the "no consumption at all" level of 1 mug/g...A more significant reason for avoiding white perch is the PCB contamination because 40% of these fish exceeded the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action level of 2000 ng/g for PCBs and all white perch exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency cancer/health guideline (49 ng/g) of no more than one meal/month. In fact, nearly all were 10 times that advisory level.

And, this is the study I think describes the situation the best.

CONTEXT: Fish (finfish or shellfish) may have health benefits and also contain contaminants, resulting in confusion over the role of fish consumption in a healthy diet.
CONCLUSIONS: For major health outcomes among adults, based on both the strength of the evidence and the potential magnitudes of effect, the benefits of fish intake exceed the potential risks. For women of childbearing age, benefits of modest fish intake, excepting a few selected species, also outweigh risks.

This study lays out that fish oil really is a wonder-compound (not a drug). It has sooooooo many benefits that everyone should eat a lot of fish. But,

Women of childbearing age and nursing mothers should consume 2 seafood servings/wk, limiting intake of selected species.

There are serious questions as to how bad mercury is for development, but the experts lean towards caution. Eat fish, but not those that have high levels of mercury because there is ample evidence that it acts as a neurotoxin.

The simple fact is that we don't know how bad mercury is for brain development, but MOST studies say it has some detrimental effects. The more mercury we put into the environment, the more there will be in fish, the fewer species that will be edible. Not to mention the inevitable movement up the food chain.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I wrote to Mr Bakst yesterday

My note was:

Your article and position on environmental controls indicates both a woeful lack of knowledge and a shameful lack of concern for your fellow citizens and their health. North Carolina has already advised that 23 species of fish should not be eaten by preganant women or small children. Are you suggesting these people are morons and/or boogie men spreading unsubstantiated lies?

It never fails to amaze me how some people will, for money, say or do anything regardless of the impact on their fellow citizens. Shame on you.

His Reply

Thank you for your personal attacks. Now that you have attacked me though, I hope will get a chance to read my report.

Daren Bakst, J.D., LL.M.
Legal & Regulatory Policy Analyst
John Locke Foundation

My reply

Mr. Bakst,

I read your report. And I've read many others on the issue. Your background implies no expertise on the subject matter, nor did you present a balanced view or any indication of the actual additional costs (per KWH) you mentioned (as a tool to create adverse public opinion). While I don't have the numbers for NC, in Pennsylvania the costs of similar compliance was estimated at @$0.00008 per KWH. That's hardly cause for anyone to object.

It is a known fact that many bird species feeding primarily on fish are being severely impacted. That in itself might be good reason to control emissions since these creatures provide important links in the ecological chain that keeps our world renewed. There's more...and lot's of evidence pointing to human health risks. Perhaps you're aware and chose to ignore these issues in pursuit of your objective?

I've read several of your essays. Most have a view implying fealty to a particular economic or political cause rather than broader public good. If that's your profession...and it appears that it is...and if the shoe fits, wear it. My opinion...

Stan Bozarth

Good letter, Stan.

These guys have a multi-million dollar opinion manufacturing machine that cranks out "reports" like a power-plant cranks out greenhouse gases. It must be upsetting when the little people take issue with their bull-oney.

So why don't BlueNCer's offer opinion feeds to newspapers

With a link to this open "Think Tank". Dayyuuumm, I am so impressed with all that I've read in this thread.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

This is something we should all be thinking about.

One thing papers want . . . which seems to be even more important than quality . . . is continuity and predictability. Maybe we'll eventually get there, but without a multi-million dollar opinion manufacturing machine to drive things, it'll be tricky.

I'm a new board member of the NC Editorial Forum and I'm hoping something will come out of my participation that would drive fresh content into the blogosphere, not just newspapers. The other board members seem interested, but as I said, I'm new and don't want to push too hard. Yet.

But I like your thinking a lot. We could be part of a virtual progressive think tank and give the Hoodlums a run for their big-time money. Fortunately, Mr. Pope is getting used to flushing millions of dollars on lost causes . . . maybe we can add JLF to the junk heap.

Funny that Mr. Bakst claims personal attacks

in regards to comments that include no personal attack at all. Typical GOP the victim. Sooooo predictable. Malkin, Coulter and O'Reilly all like this game.

Whining like a little girl doesn't do much for a grown man's(or woman's) credibility regardless of professional designation or expertise.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Mean old libruls

Didn't like Mr. Esquire's "report" about the glories of free-market everything.
Fooey on you.

PS Mr. Bakst must have gotten a special permission note to post here today. I've heard Puppets are only allowed to read BlueNC on odd-numbered days and can't respond to any entries unless cleared by Stagemanager Hood or Puppetmaster Pope. That's whatcha call "Command and Control."

I won't attack Mr. Bakst.

As Greg says, it appears he has no scientific background in this field, although he could. I prefer to think that he was mislead into writing this column. A child with brain damage is heart-breaking. Most data suggests that prenatal mercury is a neurotoxin, which leads to brain damage. I just don't think ANY person would advocate for increased mercury levels if they read through all the scientific research that ties mercury to neurotoxicity, and had spent any time with a child with developmental disabilities.

So, I prefer to think that Mr. Bakst will come around to realize he can be a conservative AND push for SOME environmental regulation. The two are not mutually exclusive.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.