Congratulations. You’ve Pissed Me Off.

This news from my former stomping grounds in Page, Ariz. is just lovely: High mercury lands Lake Powell fish on food alert list. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Striped bass from the southern reaches of Lake Powell, along with largemouth bass in Quail Creek Reservoir, have joined the list of Utah fish with mercury consumption advisories.

“We thought it was time to get the message out to people,” Amy Dickey of the Utah Division of Water Quality told the Statewide Mercury Work Group on Thursday, noting that methylmercury levels in Lake Powell’s stripers have hovered around the worrisome zone for several years.

With this first mercury warning for Lake Powell, one of the state’s most popular recreation spots, officials suggest pregnant women and children under 6 should eat no more than one 4-ounce serving per month.

Yes, just the pregnant women and children need to worry. Very comforting. Please tell me more:

“We’re not saying: don’t eat these fish,” he [Roger Wilson, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources] said. “We’re saying: eat according to the guidelines that have been issued” and that are kept up-to-date on the state’s mercury web page.

“Mind the eating guidelines” they say. For fresh caught fish, from a fresh water lake, with some of the cleanest water in the nation – other than the damn mercury, of course.

I lived beneath the stacks of the Navajo Generating Station for three years; I studied that coal-fired power plant like one would a painting. I looked at it from every angle – the poverty ridden Navajo who were employed by it, the environmentalists who despised it, the rural economy and downstream power consumers who depend on it. I could see the NGS plant, with all its ugliness and efficiency and necessity, from every perspective, and whenever I felt a little holier-than-thou about an environmental issue somewhere across the globe, I would stop and consider the complexities of NGS, and understand that the answers, while often clear to me, are far from simple to live by.

But Lake Powell is my lake. I spent three years working there as a park service employee, caring for that place, protecting it, promoting it, and deeply appreciating all my colleagues who were doing the same.

And now I feel betrayed.

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One thought on “Congratulations. You’ve Pissed Me Off.

  1. Thanks for the post. Very, very few Americans seem to understand that this is a serious legacy of burning coal. It’s akin to a dirty secret – known by politicians, energy producers, and fisheries biologists, – and yet absolutely not talked about in the media and among the general public. Virtually every lake in the 48 contiguous states has been impacted…

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