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Stop making car batteries.

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    More than oil and gasoline we need batteries to start our vehicles. So now that the EPA shut down the only lead smelting facility in the USA where will we get our batteries from when the impact of shutting down the lead smelting plant starts to hit. Batteries that start all of our defense vehicles, ambulances and etc. Do we want to buy batteries from China and Pakistan. Up until now car batteries were almost 90% made in USA. The lead smelting plant could not afford the $100 million dollar upgrade to keep on producing lead compliant with the EPA. The price of batteries has already jumped $30 across the board in the last week. Where will that stop? Isn't it in the National Interest to have batteries to start our armed forces vehicles. Why would the EPA and Obama do such a stupid thing to put our country totally dependent on imported batteries. In the stimulus package Obama gave 2.4 billion dollars to kick start the domestic battery industry and then he shuts down the only domestic supplier of lead. Obama should have given $100 million to the Doe Run Plant to make them legal by EPA standards. He wants electric cars but then shuts down the number one ingredient of the cheapest and strongest of batteries. Once again the poor have to bear the cost of the elite in saving the environment. Poor people will be driving cars that need lead acid batteries for at least the next 40 or more years. So they will be saddled with the artificially high cost of batteries. Right now the rate of domestically produced batteries is about 85%. How that will change is not known right now. But it will be hard to compete with foreign batteries when the only USA lead smelting plant is shutdown.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I did some reading about the Doe Run plant. Here is the rest of the story. Ultimately it was the residents, especially those with children, that forced the EPA to set exposure limits on the plant and its demise.

    Mid-Missouri Public Radio: The end of a lead-laced era: polluting smelter to close after 120 years

    The dust in the streets and sidewalks that the kids played in was tested and contained 30 percent lead. The kids were then tested.

    "We tested all the kids that lived in that first quarter-mile, half-mile, three-fourths mile, mile," explains Denise Jordan-Izaguirre with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2001, the agency worked with state and local health officials to try to test every kid under six for lead in their blood. The results, she says, weren't exactly surprising."

    "I think we were all appalled – not surprised – appalled. That it was this bad."

    Credit Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

    They laid out the results like a bulls-eye, concentric circles of contamination radiating out from the Doe Run smelter. Within a quarter mile, 56 percent of kids had high levels of lead in their blood. At a half-mile, it was 52 percent. Jordan-Izaguirre says she’d never seen numbers like that, except in the developing world.

    Various lawsuits started in 2001, and the decision to close the plant was made in 2008 under the Bush administration.

    Also because some 95-98 percent of the lead in batteries is from recycled old batteries, there will not be a significant impact on battery prices. Most USA manufacturing plants use recycled lead from old batteries...the company in question operates plants that do just that...recycle batteries into new batteries. It's a recycling success story.

    If the EPA hadn't acted, the State Health agency would have forced its closure.

    Yes 270 people will be without jobs. No jobs are forever.

    Read the article about the health effects on local residents.

  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    100% correct! There is always another side to every story thank you for providing it. I've been aware of this non-problem for a while and agree its primarily something for anti-environmental Republicans to latch on to and support their global warming is a myth theory..
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Schmidt that is rather short sighted and superficial. It reminds me of a guy that wanted me to wire an inverter to his main batteries so that he could plug in a battery charger to the inventor and recharge the batteries powering the inverter. He figured that once it started it would run all his electronics perpetually. Recycling has to have old batteries. The old batteries come from new batteries. Recycling converts almost all battery materials but it doesn't meet the needs of all the batteries demanded. The prices of batteries has already gone up $30 across the board. Additionally there is a way to produce lead safely by complying with the EPA rules. That would cost $100 million. Obama invested 2.4 billion dollars from his stimulus program to kick start the domestic battery industry. He could have easily given Doe Run the money so that we could maintain domestic lead production. Btw there are over 100 million new batteries sold each year. The realistic picture is that there will be shortages of lead and once again the cost of clean air will be drooped on the backs of the poor. I used to think that liberals have some concern for the poor and at one time they may have. But apparently liberal environmentalist have no social awareness or conscience. Rationing is never brought up and I suppose that the current system feeds the passive aggressive attitude toward the poor. Every time the elitist environmentalist cost more money to come from the poor, the standard of living of the poor gets kicked down further. That is their health and the health of their kids. That is creating another bubble and that bubble has potential for irrational consequences.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Here is the truth if the story. A new plant had been approved by the EPA and the only reason it did not materialize was that Doe Run changed their mind about investing the $100 million. A new safe plant approved by the EPA and Obama could have funded it out of the 2.4 billion that apparently wasted on domestic battery production.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Additionally the stimulus money for batteries is probably the most stupid amount of money spent on a senseless project. In the first place it should have been stipulated that all the systems were interchangeable and that a national system of charging and exchange stations were developed. Then battery cars could pull into a station and have a battery changed quicker than you could fill a car with gasoline. That would have extended the limited range of EVs to unlimited. But no, nobody wants to develop a system that would be useful. Charging stations could charge and maintain batteries more efficiently. That would make an easy development for interstate trucking system to take advantage of. Then maybe EVs would serve a purpose.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Without new lead acid batteries there will soon be a shortage of batteries because recycling old batteries cannot meet the need for new batteries:

    The following is from batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/bat...

    "Lead acid are the most widely recycled batteries and the automotive industry receives credit for making this possible early on. Recycling programs are believed to have started soon after Cadillac introduced the cranking motor in 1912. The process is simple and up to 70 percent of the battery’s weight yields reusable lead. Recycled batteries provide over 50 percent of the lead supply, and leading lead-acid battery manufacturers, including Johnson Controls and Exide Technologies, run profitable recycling operations."

    It is going to turn out to be a disastrous mistake to let the Doe Run smelting operation cease operating. China will be the world supplier of batteries.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Chet -- You can disagree with me, but here's my view.

    1. Lead is poisonous, especially for children because once it's in the body it can't be taken out. You can read about lead poisoning at the link. I support the EPA standards for lead emissions.

    2. According to recycling websites, 99 percent of car batteries are recycled. That's good news.

    3. The average car battery lasts between 5 and 7 years before it needs replacement. I haven't had to replace a battery in my cars in over a decade. I drive them about 6-7 years before trading them in.

    4. A quick look at battery prices online suggest an average of maybe $150. So if a battery lasts 6 years that would amount to $25/year. I spend twice that to just fill up my gas tank.

    5. Now I admit that there is a problem in recycling because many of the recycling plants have moved to Mexico because of their lower standards for lead poisoning. Although 99 percent of the batteries are recycled, much of that recycling business has moved to Mexico. That indeed has impacted jobs in the USA.

    As per McClatchy, in a little more than four decades, the number of smelters in the U.S. has fallen from 154 to 14.

    McClathy DC: As U.S. tightens rules on lead emissions, battery recycling has moved to Mexico

    6. China is aware of the lead poisoning problem because they shutdown a Shanghai battery manufacturing plant because 49 children in the area had elevated levels of lead in their blood levels. I would expect the Chinese to tighten up their environmental standards to be more consistent with those of the EPA. The Chinese don't want their children to have lead poisoning either.

    7. I expect that with the implementation of the TPP and greater awareness of the lead poisoning problem, that the Mexicans too will be pressured to raise their standards to ensure their children don't get lead poisoning. That may take several years though.

    8. So you are not talking about just recycling plant, but well over a hundred that have closed...although only one was involved in original battery manufacturing. I personally don't see that the trade off of having a taxpayer subsidy of some $100 million is worth the cost of 270 jobs in that plant. I assume that the cost of upgrading other recycling plants would be about the same.

    9. You keep emphasizing the impact on poor people. There are probably more cost effective ways of raising the standards of poor people than making massive taxpayer subsidies to car battery recycling plants. I take your point on the subsidies made to clean energy plants to encourage moving away from fossil fuels. Maybe that money could have been spent elsewhere, but that is a separate argument from the car lead battery manufacturing plant.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Schmidt Wrote:

    Chet -- You can disagree with me, but here's my view.

    1. Lead is poisonous, especially for children because once it's in the body it can't be taken out. You can read about lead poisoning at the link. I support the EPA standards for lead emissions.

    2. According to recycling websites, 99 percent of car batteries are recycled. That's good news.

    3. The average car battery lasts between 5 and 7 years before it needs replacement. I haven't had to replace a battery in my cars in over a decade. I drive them about 6-7 years before trading them in.

    4. A quick look at battery prices online suggest an average of maybe $150. So if a battery lasts 6 years that would amount to $25/year. I spend twice that to just fill up my gas tank.

    5. Now I admit that there is a problem in recycling because many of the recycling plants have moved to Mexico because of their lower standards for lead poisoning. Although 99 percent of the batteries are recycled, much of that recycling business has moved to Mexico. That indeed has impacted jobs in the USA.

    As per McClatchy, in a little more than four decades, the number of smelters in the U.S. has fallen from 154 to 14.

    McClathy DC: As U.S. tightens rules on lead emissions, battery recycling has moved to Mexico

    6. China is aware of the lead poisoning problem because they shutdown a Shanghai battery manufacturing plant because 49 children in the area had elevated levels of lead in their blood levels. I would expect the Chinese to tighten up their environmental standards to be more consistent with those of the EPA. The Chinese don't want their children to have lead poisoning either.

    7. I expect that with the implementation of the TPP and greater awareness of the lead poisoning problem, that the Mexicans too will be pressured to raise their standards to ensure their children don't get lead poisoning. That may take several years though.

    8. So you are not talking about just recycling plant, but well over a hundred that have closed...although only one was involved in original battery manufacturing. I personally don't see that the trade off of having a taxpayer subsidy of some $100 million is worth the cost of 270 jobs in that plant. I assume that the cost of upgrading other recycling plants would be about the same.

    9. You keep emphasizing the impact on poor people. There are probably more cost effective ways of raising the standards of poor people than making massive taxpayer subsidies to car battery recycling plants. I take your point on the subsidies made to clean energy plants to encourage moving away from fossil fuels. Maybe that money could have been spent elsewhere, but that is a separate argument from the car lead battery manufacturing plant.

    Two different views. I am in no way proposing dropping the standards to produce lead. Your argument is misdirected. Present it to somebody that is against clean air. The Doe Run plant had already been approved to build and operate a compliant smelting plant. I say again that the EPA had approved the new plant but at the end Doe Run did not want to risk the money. I am not , did not or would not propose dropping the standards. I thought you and I had an understanding that there are enough resources for everybody to have a safe healthy life. My problem is that if the EPA proposes restrictions that lead to a plant shutting down then we should not use any products produced under lesser environmental standards. If we do then we are subsidizing pollution. My argument about regulations hurting the poor is not to alleviate the regulations but to force the EPA to make the people that can afford clean air pay for it. Right now all the costs are being unfairly born by the poor. They have to sacrifice their health so that affluent people can have clean air. That is fact.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    4. A quick look at battery prices online suggest an average of maybe $150. So if a battery lasts 6 years that would amount to $25/year. I spend twice that to just fill up my gas tank.

    Schmidt, What is the point of #4. Three years ago that $150 battery was 60 dollars. Sixty dollars is bad enough but do you realize what buying a $150 battery does to a poverty family. It effects their health.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Chet Ruminski Wrote:

    More than oil and gasoline we need batteries to start our vehicles. So now that the EPA shut down the only lead smelting facility in the USA where will we get our batteries from when the impact of shutting down the lead smelting plant starts to hit. Batteries that start all of our defense vehicles, ambulances and etc. Do we want to buy batteries from China and Pakistan. Up until now car batteries were almost 90% made in USA. The lead smelting plant could not afford the $100 million dollar upgrade to keep on producing lead compliant with the EPA. The price of batteries has already jumped $30 across the board in the last week. Where will that stop? Isn't it in the National Interest to have batteries to start our armed forces vehicles. Why would the EPA and Obama do such a stupid thing to put our country totally dependent on imported batteries. In the stimulus package Obama gave 2.4 billion dollars to kick start the domestic battery industry and then he shuts down the only domestic supplier of lead. Obama should have given $100 million to the Doe Run Plant to make them legal by EPA standards. He wants electric cars but then shuts down the number one ingredient of the cheapest and strongest of batteries. Once again the poor have to bear the cost of the elite in saving the environment. Poor people will be driving cars that need lead acid batteries for at least the next 40 or more years. So they will be saddled with the artificially high cost of batteries. Right now the rate of domestically produced batteries is about 85%. How that will change is not known right now. But it will be hard to compete with foreign batteries when the only USA lead smelting plant is shutdown.

    Chet -- Your original post above seemed much like a rant to me, and normally I would have not have bothered to even comment except for your statement, "Why would the EPA and Obama do such a stupid thing to put our country totally dependent on imported batteries." As I am not only an avid environmentalist and supporter of the EPA, but also a long time Obama supporter, it prompted me to do some investigation of something I knew nothing about.

    So first of all let me say, that much of this had less to do with Obama, and more to do with the Bush administration. The EPA standards that set in motion the plans to close the Doe Run plant were set during the Republican Bush administration. And they only did it as a result of lawsuits filed by people that lived near the plant. Many of those people would probably fit your definition of "poor people" because in my travels around the USA, rich people do not live near smelters, chemical plants and refineries. Poor people do. The typical poor neighborhoods near the plants are always downwind of the prevailing winds. Rich people live in neighborhoods well away from the plants and always upwind.

    When it comes to making a choice about a person's job versus their health, many sadly choose the job as they have no other choice. Miners are a good example of that, but also people who work in any environment (such as a smelter) where the air quality is less than optimum. However, when the emissions from smokestacks result in dust contaminating nearby neighborhoods, and that dust is shown to contain 30 percent lead, and when their own children are tested and shown to have abnormally high levels of lead in their bloodstream, then even poor people will draw the line and demand action against their own employer.

    I just don't see your argument that the "poor have to bear the cost of the elite in saving the environment."

    You are also making the argument that the poor will bear a heavy burden from rising battery prices. The point I was trying to make is that the cost of replacing a battery every six years is small relative to other running and maintenance costs. My biggest cost by far is gasoline. The second biggest cost is car insurance...mostly liability. In Colorado the cost of the car license is high and that's my third biggest expense of car ownership. Replacing tires every 50,000 miles or so is my fourth biggest expense. There are other costs such as changing brake pads that will start hitting a person more as the car gets older that don't affect me, but would affect someone that drives their car much longer before trading it in. The cost of replacing a battery for me would be about $180 if I ever had to have it done on my higher end car. I checked.

    The point I am making is that the cost of replacing a car battery is small relative to other car ownership costs. If you can afford the other costs, then you should be able to afford the cost of replacing a battery. If you cannot afford those costs, then you probably don't own a car anyway and rely on public transport...or you walk or bicycle to work.

    Your final point about not buying products manufactured in foreign countries that don't meet our environmental standards is a good one, and it is one of the issues that is being fought within the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Trade agreement. It is a legitimate grievance of unions. However, if you were to rigidly apply that criteria to every product imported into America and not just car batteries, you may just as well find yourself a log cabin in the wilderness and live off the land in a primitive style.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Schmidt, As far as the relative cost of a battery to the overall cost of car maintenance you are not understanding poverty. I give work to a lot of homeless and poverty class people when I can. They can't cash a check because they don't or can't have a checking account, identification or address. The poor people fight to make it through every day. They could never afford or ever have $150 at one time. They travel with dead batteries jumper cables and dependency on others for a jump or push. I talked to one of my emergency room Doctor customers about the poor. He said that the average age of death is about 45. He said that the people I see and think are about 60 are probably 35. The affordable care act, and I am not saying this in a negative way, was constructed with people with the same understanding of the poor that you have. The Affordable Care Act assumes that everybody has $100 to pay the premium. The act assumes the poor have the facility with paper work, computers and knowledge to get the subsidies available. It is hard for people to understand or believe that the poor are so challenged. Consequently they don't and assess the poor as unmotivated. This country and this world have the resources to provide every single person with a way to make a good living. The reason I am relentless about attacking derivatives is because derivatives tie up money depriving the world of jobs that could employ everybody. If you ask the average intelligent person about what the stock market does you will get the wrong answer. The absolute majority will say that is a way for companies to sell stock and get money. The reality is that companies are not expanding and hiring because there is no money for that. The majority of money is tied up in absolute gambling about movements in the stock market. Poor people don't have discretionary money. Any new or extra expense comes from their living money. Any new expense lowers their cost of living.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Schmidt, you are placing yourself at odds with the environmentalists when you said: "However, if you were to rigidly apply that criteria to every product imported into America and not just car batteries, you may just as well find yourself a log cabin in the wilderness and live off the land in a primitive style". I know what their response would be, you would be in a log cabin.