As Fox Business host John Stossel declared America's water pollution problem over, a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report found that more than half of America's rivers and streams are in poor condition because of pollution.
Stossel appeared on Tuesday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor to preview an anti-environmental episode called "Green Tyranny," and claimed that the problem of pollution in the U.S. was "largely solved" and no longer worth the use of government funding.
BILL O'REILLY (host): All right. So, that's Stossel jumping in the Hudson River, showing off and all of that. And your point to jump in the Hudson River was?
STOSSEL: That we need some environmental rules. Thank goodness, we've had some when I was a kid. You couldn't open a window in the city because soot would come in.
But they've cleaned up the water. So, it used to go -- 8 million people flushing, used to go straight in the Hudson River.
O'REILLY: All right. It doesn't do that anymore. It's treated and all of that. So, the Hudson -- I mean, I wouldn't be swimming there on a regular basis, Stossel. Your mustache is gonna falll off, all right?
Yeah, you can show up and jump in there for 10 seconds but, come on.
STOSSEL: It's pretty good. My point is that they spent several hundred million dollars.
O'REILLY: Cleaning up the river.
STOSSEL: Cleaning up the river and the air.
O'REILLY: Which was worth it though.
STOSSEL: Which was worth it.
STOSSEL: But stick a fork in it. It's done. They did a great job. The air -- every time somebody buys a new car, the air gets cleaner because the old cars pollute more. But government only grows. So, now, they're spending billions of dollars on --
O'REILLY: Are you saying that the pollution problem in this country is not worth the money they're spending on?
STOSSEL: Yes. I'm saying it's largely solved. And, now, we're giving money to rich movie actors, subsidies to buy $100,000 electric cars.
Despite Stossel's claims, an EPA report released on Tuesday found 55 percent of U.S. rivers and streams to be in "poor biological condition," based on an index that measures various aquatic creatures. The report also found that 23 percent of rivers and streams were in fair condition, and just under 21 percent were in good condition. The assessment was based on "the results of an unprecedented sampling effort undertaken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its state and tribal partners" collected in 2008 and 2009 at 1,924 sites across the country. From the EPA's report:
The EPA's "National Rivers and Streams Assessment" also determined that 9 percent of waterways studied posed a danger to human health. The Associated Press reported:
In 9 percent of rivers and streams, bacteria exceeded thresholds protective of human health. And mercury, which is toxic, was found in fish tissue along 13,000 miles of streams at levels exceeding health-based standards. Mercury occurs naturally but also can enter the environment from coal-burning power plants and from burning hazardous wastes.
The assessment raised red flags particularly in urban areas. According to the EPA, 26.9 percent of the urban sites tested -- 2,970 miles of the 11,002 -- exceed the EPA quality standards for mercury (300 parts per billion in fish tissue), and 11.6% contained concerning levels of PFCs, artificial chemicals used to make used for decades to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. From the EPA assessment:
The EPA warns that the Hudson River, which Stossel jumped into, "looks clean, but looks can be deceiving." An EPA fact page on PCBs in the Hudson River -- a chemical that was dumped into the river by General Electric for decades -- states:
PCBs are harmful to people's health.
PCBs cause cancer in laboratory animals, are considered a probable cause of cancer in people, and can trigger serious health problems, including low birth weight and reproductive and immunological problems. Pregnant women and children are especially vulnerable. Major national and international health organizations, including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the American Cancer Society, and the World Health Organization agree with EPA about the toxicity of PCBs.
In addition, the EPA noted that letting nature take its course will not protect against the harmful effects of PCBs:
Source control alone will not clean up the river.
Each day, about three to five ounces of PCBs enter the river at the top of the Thompson Island Pool through fractures in the bedrock underneath the GE Hudson Falls plant. Samples show that about one to two pounds of PCBs flow out of the Thompson Island Pool every day. It's simple math. The additional PCBs come from the river sediment. [...] without targeted dredging, PCBs in the sediment will continue to find their way into fish at unacceptable levels and for an unacceptable length of time.
Letting nature take its course will not protect people and animals who eat fish from the Hudson.