Mark Ruffalo may be most famous for his fictional portrayal of Dr. Robert Bruce Banner and his alter ego “The Hulk” in Marvel’s Avengers series, but he has recently been grabbing headlines for other reasons. Last month, Ruffalo made the news by submitting testimony in Congress based on his recent role in a largely fictionalized movie — Dark Waters — that is being portrayed as a “true story.”
While the media, Ruffalo, trial attorneys, and some politicians pretend that Dark Waters is a dramatization of a true story, its marketing materials merely claim it is “inspired by true events.” But it gets so many facts wrong, even that claim is hard to stand by.
Whether the movie is entertaining is a matter of personal preference. But whether the movie is an accurate portrayal of fact is not a matter of opinion. A movie is either factual and accurate, or it is not. The Avengers‘ movies are in my estimation entertaining. But they are not factual and shouldn’t be the basis of congressional action. Neither do we need the Hulk testifying in Congress. Dark Waters is not nearly as entertaining as the Avengers movies, but it is about as factual, so we really don’t need Mark Ruffalo testifying either.
The basic plot line of Dark Waters is that an evil, dark corporation knowingly and purposefully pollutes the water in a local community and an activist heroic trial attorney played by Ruffalo comes to the community’s rescue to force the evil corporation to take responsibility. The thrust of the movie is that corporate greed led to horrible excesses. Yet the movie itself appears to be an exercise in greed and excess. A network of well-financed trial attorneys, political activists and Hollywood nitwits have fabricated a story designed to support their political agenda, encourage ever more litigation, and make their greed appear altruistic and heroic. Trial lawyers and Hollywood shouldn’t be lecturing anyone about greed.
The movie portrays the Ohio River communities in West Virginia and Ohio in ways that promote false “hillbilly” stereotypes of locals being simple-minded and uneducated with rotting teeth. The fact is that the region is a manufacturing powerhouse and has a diverse economy with hundreds of thousands of proud, healthy, hardworking people.
Folks are not merely offended by the portrayals of locals as simpleton hillbillies with blackened and rotting teeth. Local legislators, people who would know the facts, have criticized the movie saying, “The film’s portrayal of Parkersburg does not reflect reality.” But it goes deeper than just that the film isn’t based in fact. Local legislators are concerned that Dark Waters will do “real damage to our economy and the hard-working people of the Mountain State.”
The movie falsely suggests that PFAS chemicals lead to deteriorated oral health and cause cancer. PFAS chemicals are used in firefighting foam and consumer products like non-stick cookware and waterproof clothing. Science does not establish that this is a cancer-causing agent. Nor has it found that it harms teeth. But asserting these things as if they were established fact, does make the movie more dramatic — just like the Hulk’s fictionalized strength makes the Avengers movies better.
Ruffalo’s trial lawyer character claims that “DuPont is knowingly poisoning 70,000 local residents.” This hysterical claim may make for a dramatic scene in a movie, but local leaders doubt its veracity. But it is useful to tell such lies when you’re trying to promote a political agenda and you’re committed to grotesque oversimplification of complex matters in hopes of creating a fact-free political narrative.
The movie is defended as an effort to educate and motivate Americans to take action and as a way to require accountability. But wouldn’t an accurate, fact-based portrayal be a better way to educate? How does one effectively educate with falsehoods?
Ohio River basin locals have asked “that those who profit off of fear-mongering and stereo typing [i.e. Ruffalo and other Hollywood nitwits and trial lawyers] be held accountable.” But that isn’t the sort of accountability that Ruffalo or trial attorney’s support.
No rational human being would suggest using the Avengers movies as the basis for congressional hearings. That’s why Tony Stark, Captain America, and Thor are not invited to testify. But sadly, ignorant Hollywood activists and trial attorneys — who see themselves as more intelligent and altruistic than other Americans — hope to use the mostly fictional Dark Waters movie to advance their fact-free political agenda, and shape and mold a more supportive public.
Hollywood is an entertainment industry. Ruffalo and other Hollywood activists seek to merge their political agendas with entertainment. The outcome is agenda motivated entertainment that creates distorted policy demands based in fantasy and an American public that is less informed and even misinformed because the agenda driven entertainment is such a distorted, largely fictionalized account. This is no way to make public policy.
By Associated Press • New York Post
California will begin regulating greenhouse-gas emissions tied to dairy cows and landfills under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, escalating state efforts to fight climate change beyond carbon-based gases to include methane and other pollutants.
The law targets a category of gases known as short-lived climate pollutants, which have an outsize effect on global warming despite their relatively short life in the atmosphere. Environmentalists hope that tackling short-lived pollutants now would buy time to develop new and more affordable technology to reduce carbon emissions.
California has stoked a global reputation for its attempts to slow climate change through a combination of strict mandates against pollution and financial incentives for green technology. Continue reading
Average cost of regulation is rising more than twice as fast as ability of Americans to pay for it
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
According to the report, regulations implemented during the lot’s development are responsible for 14.6 percent of the total, while 9.7 percent is due to costs that accrue after the builder has purchased a finished lot.
“Regulations come in many forms and can be imposed by different levels of government,” explains the report. “At the local level, jurisdictions may charge permit, hook-up, and impact fees and establish development and construction standards that either directly increase costs to builders and developers, or cause delays that translate to higher costs.” Continue reading
Lowering ozone—from cars, trucks, factories and power plants—in the name of an imaginary health benefit.
by Tony Cox • Wall Street Journal
This fall the Environmental Protection Agency plans to take its next grand regulatory step, following the announcement of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan over the summer. The agency is likely to introduce stringent new standards for ground-level ozone, arguing that a lower allowable level of ozone—an important component of smog—will reduce asthma in the U.S., among other claimed health benefits. Yet the EPA ignores decades of data and studies, some under the agency’s auspices, that reveal no detectable causal relation between past reductions in ozone and better public health, including reductions in asthma cases.
The new regulation may be the most expensive ever for the U.S. economy—even worse than the Clean Power Plan’s effect on coal-fired power plants. Some studies, such as one published in August by National Economic Research Associates, estimate implementation costs of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in the short run, and trillions of dollars over the next two decades, as well as millions of lost jobs. Why would it be so costly? Because attacking ozone involves almost every facet of the economy—as the EPA notes, “automobiles, trucks, buses, factories, power plants” and “consumer products” all contribute to ground-level ozone. Continue reading
By Michael Biesecker • My Way News
Internal documents released late Friday show managers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were aware of the potential for a catastrophic “blowout” at an abandoned mine that could release “large volumes” of wastewater laced with toxic heavy metals.
EPA released the documents following weeks of prodding from The Associated Press and other media organizations. EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado.
Among the documents is a June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup that noted that the old mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed. The plan appears to have been produced by Environmental Restoration, a private contractor working for EPA.
“This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse,” the report says. “ln addition, other collapses within the workings may have occurred creating additional water impounding conditions. Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals.” Continue reading
By Alex Cabrero • Deseret News
It was a dream come true several years ago when Andy Johnson built a pond on his property to stock fish, let his kids play and provide a spot where his horses could have a drink.
But now that dream has turned into a nightmare. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency accused him of violating the Clean Water Act by damming the middle of Six Mile Creek and polluting the water to build the pond.
The agency is threatening Johnson with a $75,000 per day fine — a penalty often reserved for companies that emit toxic hazards — until he tears it all down.
“I think they’re trying to gain jurisdiction,” Johnson said. “They’re trying to see if they can run over me, and then they will get into everyone’s irrigation ditch and stock ponds throughout not only Wyoming, but the United States.” Continue reading
By John Siciliano • Washington Examiner
The methane restrictions for oil and gas companies proposed by the Obama administration Tuesday are just the beginning of a regulatory “tidal wave” that the industry is bracing for this fall.
The new rules for oil and gas wells proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would limit methane from fracking sites, creating new costs that the industry says are “unnecessary.” The industry says it has reduced methane voluntarily, so why bother with regulations that would only be duplicative.
The EPA estimates the cost of the proposed rule to be $170 to $180 million in 2020 and $280 to $330 million in 2025.
Those costs are expected to amplify considerably given that some of the rules coming down the pike are considered the most expensive in history. Continue reading
by Alex B. Berezow & Todd Myers • RealClearScience
The accidental spill of toxic wastewater into Colorado’s Animas River is an ironic case study: The very organization meant to protect Americans from environmental catastrophes was responsible for perpetrating it. How should the Environmental Protection Agency be held accountable?
Colorado, and the states downstream of the spill, should sue the EPA. But, instead of merely recovering the cost of environmental damage, the lawsuit should focus on taming the leviathan the EPA has become.
Created in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, the EPA, at its best, has been an important part of improving air and water quality. Clear standards, enforced in a straightforward way have been successful. The fact that the American environment is cleaner and safer than it has been in a century is partially due to EPA action. Continue reading
by IBD Staff Editorial • Investor’s Business Daily
On Sunday night, EPA regional director Shaun McGrath told a town hall meeting in Colorado that the EPA would “hold ourselves to the same standards that we would anyone that would have created this situation.” Right.
This is an agency that will aggressively fine businesses, municipalities and anyone or anything else for even the slightest violation of its ridiculously strict standards, but that will face zero fines for its own environmental catastrophe.
It’s an agency that claims that even the tiniest levels of pollutants are extremely hazardous, yet has been busy downplaying the damage after its own incompetence caused the release of millions of gallons of toxic waste. Continue reading
By John Kinkaid • Fox News
Grace: (noun) An act or instance of kindness, courtesy or clemency. Mercy, pardon.
Here in northwest Colorado we feel like we’re at the epicenter of federal policy actions with regard to land and the environment. When you think of the war on coal, we are the bullseye. The irony is that we are the true stewards of the air, water and land. On a sunny day the sky is deep blue and we love it.
As a retired Control Room Operator at one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the U.S., I know firsthand how much time, effort and money go into keeping things clean. We hunt. We fish. We ski. We have a vested interest in maintaining the environment.
And yet we can never do enough to satisfy the EPA. EPA has been on mission creep since its inception in 1970. And somewhere in the intervening years between then and now, a line was crossed. The line between good common sense solutions and heavy-handed job crushing regulations. Somewhere along the line, EPA quit being the “good guys” and became the enemy of average citizens and the U.S. economy. Continue reading
Committee requests McCarthy correct the record and be ‘truthful’ with American public
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology wrote to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy and called her testimony at a hearing in July “false and misleading.”
On July 9, McCarthy testified to the House Committee on the transparency of the EPA’s regulatory agenda. Members of the committee asked McCarthy about the “secret science” that goes in to justifying EPA regulations because they want to ensure the data is available to the American people.
Rep. Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) asked McCarthy whether the agency had made data that was used to craft the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule public. While McCarthy said that the information was “available,” the Committee maintains that EPA did not provide any scientific or legal justification for the figures Lucas asked for. Continue reading
by Herald Staff • Boston Herald
Sure accidents happen — it’s why we call them accidents. But you can bet if some oil company had been responsible for filling a Colorado river with toxic sludge — rather than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — the Obama White House would be all over it. The Justice Department would likely have already launched an investigation and company officials marched into federal court.
But the EPA — which in its zealotry to rid our air of pollutants wants to ride herd over every coal- and oil-fired plant in the nation — took 24 hours just to notify the residents of nearby Durango of their major-league screw up.
An EPA crew assigned to clean up the Gold King mine high in the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado accidentally opened up a passage from an old tunnel in the mine, allowing millions of gallons of yellow toxic sludge to spill into a creek, and from there into the Animas River. As of Monday it had already traveled 100 miles south into New Mexico. And from there who the hell knows because it’s still flowing, heading toward Utah, including Lake Powell — an area along with Durango itself jammed with tourists this time of year. Continue reading
by John Stossel • RealClearPolitics
Thomas Collier is a Democrat who managed environmental policy for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Then he noticed a mining opportunity in Alaska, one he calls “the single largest deposit of gold and silver that is not being developed in the entire world.”
Tom’s company hired hundreds of people to study the Pebble Mine’s potential environmental impact, a first step before asking the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to dig. Usually, the EPA analyzes a company’s study, then does its own research, then rules. But in this case, the EPA did something odd — it rejected the mine before Pebble even got its application in.
That’s never happened before, says Collier. Continue reading
by Peter Roff • Washington Examiner
Everyone remembers former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ill-advised comment that the Affordable Care Act would have to pass so that the American people could find out what was in it. Unfortunately, what should have been a cautionary tale has instead been an object lesson in rulemaking for President Obama’s bureaucracy.
Take, for example, the pending Clean Power Plan, an initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency. If fully implemented, it could lead to the mass shuttering of existing power generation facilities, rolling brownouts, blackouts and a significant increase in electrical rates. Continue reading