The Mess of the Doe Run Lead Smelter

The Mess of the Doe Run Lead Smelter

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

The EPA shuttered America’s last lead smelter. Was this a good idea?

Which is more important: that America is able to refine and process lead ore, or that the 2,800 people in Herculaneum, Missouri, have cleaner air and soil?

Actually, it doesn’t matter what you think! Unelected bureaucrats in Washington have already made the decision for you.

As of December 31, the last remaining lead refining plant in America will shut down. After well over 100 years of operation, the new, latest round of stricter environmental laws has forced its closure. One hundred and forty-five employees will lose their jobs. Another 45 contractors will be out of work. And America will no longer be able to produce refined lead from ore.

Environmentalists see this as a victory—cleaner air, cleaner water and a cleaner, safer world for all. Perhaps that is partially true. But does this plant’s closure really make America safer?

“For years families with children near Doe Run’s facilities have been exposed to unacceptable levels of lead, one of the most dangerous neurotoxins in the environment,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (epa) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance back in 2010 when it became clear that the Doe Run smelter would most likely close. “Today’s settlement requires Doe Run to take aggressive actions to clean up their act and work to ensure that families living near the company’s facilities are protected from lead poisoning and other harmful pollution.”

The residents of Doe Run will now be able to breathe easier. And that is good. But will America be able to breathe easier?

Not everyone is happy. The news came as a blow to the small community that is dependent on the jobs, spending and taxes collected from the plant.

Many people had hoped that Doe Run would be able to retrofit the plant with new emission filtering technology and other upgrades to reduce pollution. There was even talk about building a completely new plant using different technology to process the ore.

But it all came down to this: The cost to meet the epa’s new environmental guidelines—which were 10 times more stringent than the previous standard—made it uneconomical to refine lead. So the jobs are gone and another industry bites the dust.

The closure of one lead refinery may not seem like that big of a deal, but its impact will go far beyond the 2,800 people living in Herculaneum.

The Doe Run Smelter was the last primary lead smelter in America. America uses approximately 1.5 million tonnes of lead per year. Doe Run supplied a whopping eight percent of this demand. With the Herculaneum plant shuttered, all refined lead (beyond scrap) will now have to be imported from other nations.

The closure of the Doe Run plant is not just an environmental issue—it is a national security one.

Lead is an economically critical mineral. It is used in both the solar power and wind energy industries. It is also used in cable coverings, roof flashings and radiation shielding for airport security, nuclear energy storage and medical applications. Lead batteries dominate the traditional vehicle market as well as the market for smaller fully-electric vehicles.

The bigger worry is that lead is also a militarily critical mineral. Without Doe Run, America may become dependent on foreign nations for its small arms ammunition supply chain. Components such as bullet projectiles, projectile cores and primers all require lead.

Without the Doe Run smelter, the domestic manufacture of conventional ammunition, from mine to finished cartridge, will be impossible. Ammunition can still be produced via recycled lead, but how long could that supply last if our access to imports was ever compromised?

America may have one of the biggest armies in the world, but is it really a superpower if it can’t even manufacture its own bullets?

The closure of the Doe Run smelter comes at a time when nations like China, Germany and India, and the world as a whole, are increasing refining capacity.

Instead of forcing the closure of Doe Run, the rational reaction should have been for the government to work with the company to both protect the environment and ensure the survival of this strategically important industry.

But “rational” doesn’t describe Washington these days.

The Environmental Protection Agency has one goal: reduce pollution. It is the one government agency actually efficient at its job. But sadly, the cost has been catastrophic for American industry, manufacturing capacity and national security.

Consider America’s electricity generating industry. Right now there are new regulations from the environmental protection agency on coal demanding that power plants capture all the carbon that comes out of a coal plant and bury it underground. They call it “carbon sequestration.”

But here is the problem. Commercial-scale coal sequestration technology doesn’t even exist—and yet the epa is demanding that these power plants somehow implement their new regulations—or face fines and ultimately be shut down. As Congressman James Lankford pointed out October 31 at Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond Oklahoma, carbon-capture technology only works in the laboratory. Small test facilities are under construction, but even those are having massive billion dollar cost overruns.

“I don’t have a problem with breathing clean air, I really don’t, I kind of like it in fact, but I do have a problem when the government steps in and says, I’m going to require you to do something that doesn’t exist yet,” said Lankford. “This is the moment, as a nation we have to have rational conversations on [these] big issues.”

America’s copper smelters are being forced out too. There are now only three left in the U.S. And copper is used in even more applications than lead. Because of America’s lack of copper smelting facilities, much of its copper ore must be shipped overseas to be processed before being shipped back. How long will it be before America’s last copper smelter closes and all copper will have to come from overseas?

During America’s war of independence, it learned the hard way what it meant to be reliant on foreign powers to supply strategic materials and equipment. That is why America’s founders set up a national policy of military and industrial self-sufficiency. They saw it as essential for the security of the nation.

But now politicians in Washington think they know better than our founders. And unelected officials at the epa are transforming the nation.

Shouldn’t America be militarily self-sufficient? Shouldn’t we encourage more industry, manufacturing and jobs, and still work to have a clean and safe environment? Wouldn’t that be the rational thing to do?

I’m sorry, I forgot. It doesn’t really matter what you think. The bureaucrats in Washington have made the decision for you.

Was Jesus Just Like Moses?

Or did He, as many assume, come to do away with the teachings of Moses?

Venezuela’s Opposition Seeks Political Help From Pope Francis

Venezuela’s Opposition Seeks Political Help From Pope Francis

LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images

It’s not surprising that Venezuela’s Henrique Capriles would look to the Vatican for help.

The leader of Venezuela’s opposition party and governor of the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, had a private audience with Pope Francis, in which he pleaded for the Vatican’s intervention in the political crisis in Venezuela. Capriles met with the Latin American pontiff for 20 minutes, following Pope Francis’s general address in St. Peter’s Square on November 6.

Henrique Capriles is the presidential candidate who challenged incumbent President Nicolas Maduro in the April 2013 elections that followed Hugo Chávez’s death.

Capriles intends to drastically change Venezuela’s foreign policy. High on his agenda is ditching Iran as an ally and repealing Venezuela’s arms deals with Russia. He plans to “revise every deal” relating to oil exploitation that his country has signed especially with Russia and China. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Domestically, Capriles seeks to water down Chávez’s socialistic policies.

In the area of diplomacy with the Vatican—a delicate area that has historically been an intersection of religion and politics—Henrique Capriles hopes to mend relations with the Catholic Church that Chávez despised and tarnished. He is an avowed, staunch Catholic, educated at the Catholic University in Caracas. While campaigning for the April presidential elections, he stated that the first thing he would do after winning is to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.

Capriles narrowly lost those elections to Chávez clone Nicolas Maduro, but he does not view the vote as legitimate. Subsequent to the elections, Venezuela plunged into crisis. Political contention is rife between the government and the opposition. An economic crisis in Venezuela that has spawned a 50 percent annual inflation rate, food shortages, violent crime and street protests, is severely threatening stability. In fact, President Maduro has recently requested special power to rule by decree in an effort to mitigate Venezuela’s problems.

It is against this backdrop that Henrique Capriles is looking to the Vatican. The Catholic Church’s history of mediation in political affairs and influencing national outcomes must give Capriles reason for confidence. Following his private meeting with the pontiff and his request for papal intervention, Capriles told reporters, “[Pope Francis] said the church hears this request, and he said he believes that through dialogue, and through Venezuelan Bishops’ conference, and through [Venezuala’s] cardinal, he would look into … this request to see how it can materialize.”

Adding to his confidence is the fact that Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin served as apostolic nuncio (ambassador) to Venezuela from 2009 to 2013. “I’m sure that Msgr. Parolin can help greatly, using his new position here at the Vatican,” said Capriles, “to promote dialogue in our country.” During his tenure as the Vatican’s top diplomat to Venezuela, Parolin experienced all the church-state tension that came with Chávez’s socialist revolution.

Chávez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, is not nearly as antagonistic to the Vatican as was his predecessor. Maduro paid Pope Francis a visit back in July. This positions the Vatican perfectly for a mediation role in Venezuela, and progress is already underway.

Watch for Pope Francis’s strengthening influence in his homeland, Latin America. Expect the Vatican’s clout in political and economic affairs in Venezuela to increase. Bible prophecy discusses a soon-coming, Catholic Church-led European empire whose tentacles will reach the region with the greatest number of Catholics—Latin America. History—especially that of the Holy Roman Empire during the 16th century under Charles v—and prophecy—particularly Revelation 17—indicates that the Vatican will provide the religio-political cement that will bind the nations comprising this empire together with their Latin American outposts. Prophecy also indicates that this imperial union will eventually dominate global trade to an extent that will be detrimental to Anglo-American nations.

Using the Bible as its guide, the Trumpet’s predecessor, the Plain Truth under the leadership of Herbert W. Armstrong, boldly predicted: “[T]he United States is going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, EuropeandLatin America, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce.”

For more understanding on how the Plain Truth, and now the Trumpet, can make such Bible-based predictions, read our articles “Papal Politicking” and “Restoring Europe’s Latin Empire.” Additionally, request our free booklet about Mr. Armstrong’s work titled He Was Right.

Moscow Puts the Soviet Squeeze on Neighbor Nations

Moscow Puts the Soviet Squeeze on Neighbor Nations

MAXIM SHIPENKOV/AFP/Getty Images

Putin’s goal of reversing the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century’ underpins the bulk of Russian policy. Europe is taking note.

The European Union will hold a summit in Lithuania on November 28 to offer several former Soviet nations economic and “association” deals under its Eastern Partnership program. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants these nations to instead join the Eurasian customs union that Moscow created with Belarus and Kazakhstan. And he is not above bullying them into joining up.

In August, Russia halted all Ukrainian imports crossing the Russian border for tedious customs examinations. After a week the Kremlin removed most of the restrictions, but said it might permanently reinstate them if Ukraine accepts the EU deal.

Armenia has long been dependent on Moscow for security, and the country’s President Serzh Sargsyan was apparently reminded of this during a September meeting with Mr. Putin. He emerged from the talk saying Armenia would ditch years’ worth of efforts it made toward joining the Eastern Partnership program, and instead join Russia’s group.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Russian forces have worked over the last few months to build barricades along the border of South Ossetia, the breakaway region that Putin’s forces have occupied since the 2008 war. Georgia sees the barricades as a gradual annexation.

Last month, the Kremlin banned Lithuania’s dairy products, and temporarily doubled up customs inspections on the nation’s other goods. Since Lithuania is already an EU member, the moves are apparently just punishment for its decision to host the upcoming summit.

Then there’s Moldova. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin recently said it would be “a grave mistake” for Moldova to try to build warmer ties with Europe. The impoverished nation is completely reliant on Russian gas for heat, and Rogozin threatened to cut off that supply, adding, “We hope that you will not freeze.” Russian then outlawed Moldovan wine and brandy, some of the nation’s chief exports, and said it may ban apples and other produce too. Rumors have also circulated that tens of thousands of Moldovans who hold jobs in Russia may be kicked out, severing the financial lifeline for myriad Moldovan families.

The 20th Century’s Greatest Catastrophe?

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 reversed a development that had been in the works since the 17th century when the Russian Empire first emerged. This development was the systemic integration and centralization of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Siberia and the Caucasus. Its core was Moscow. Its goal was challenging European powers.

Although economically brittle, Russian forces were militarily powerful enough to heavily contribute to Napoleon’s and Hitler’s defeats. Russia even held its ground for more than four decades against the mighty United States during the Cold War.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Western world rejoiced, heralding it as a victory for liberty, a triumph for democracy, and evidence of the supremacy of capitalism over socialism. Most of the former Soviet nations were optimistic and inspired by goals of rebuilding and democratizing.

But not everyone saw the collapse as a positive event.

“[T]he demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” Putin said in 2005.

The aftermath of the collapse presented hardships, not just for Russia, but also for several of the former Soviet states that initially rejoiced when the ussr fell. Those countries without energy to export suffered a colossal decline in standard of living, followed by a period of economic stagnation.

The strain was enough to nudge some of these nations back into Russia’s arms, as demonstrated most plainly by the establishment of Putin’s Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan trade union. Mr. Putin intends the partnership between these three countries to be a permanent feature within the sphere of the former Soviet Union, and is bent on absorbing other nations into it.

Under Mr. Putin’s reign, Moscow is laboring to recreate the geography of the Soviet Union, and to reassert Russia’s influence in the region. The goal of reversing the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” undergirds almost every facet of the Kremlin’s foreign policy. And Russia’s focus is not lost on Europe.

The ‘Spark’ to Unite Europe

An increasing number of European leaders recognize Putin’s determination to recreate the Soviet Union’s former glory. Last week, 6,000 nato soldiers participated in drills in Estonia to defend the nation against invasion from a fictional country called Bothnia. The fact that the drill—nato’s largest in seven years—took place in one of only three former Soviet states now in the EU demonstrated Europe’s ongoing suspicion of Russia.

The nato exercise came weeks after Russian troops simulated fending off an invasion of Belarus, a former Soviet country still under Russia’s sway.

Russia and Europe wield critical influence over each other, which forces them to choose either to respect each other as friends or to compete as foes. For now, the two are mostly cooperating, but Europe is increasingly anxious about the squeeze Russia is putting on its former satellites. This anxiousness was evident in the drills in Estonia. The more pushy and power-thirsty Moscow grows, the more the European nations feel forced to forfeit political and economic autonomy in exchange for the EU’s militarily assurance.

“What Russia is doing will be the spark to bring the heads of nations in Europe together with the Vatican to form a ‘United Nations of Europe,’” wrote Herbert W. Armstrong (co-worker letter, Jan. 23, 1980).

Russia’s belligerence is spawning fear among Europeans that will hasten the rise of a European Union sufficiently unified to confront Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The more Putin squeezes the former Soviet states in his quest to recreate the former empire, the greater Europe’s urgency toward this unification will become.

Putin said the re-creation of the Soviet empire is “inevitable.” Bible prophecy corroborates this view—although the Asian bloc prophesied to congeal will be quite different from the Soviet Union, primarily because it will include China and other East Asian nations. These prophecies make plain that Asia’s rise and the unification of Europe will lead into the darkest and bloodiest chapter in mankind’s history. But the same prophecies say that just beyond this bleak future lies an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity for Asia, Europe and the entire world! To understand the awe-inspiring details of Russia’s resurgence and how it ties to this future time of true peace, read Russia and China in Prophecy.

Does the Obama Administration Know What’s Best for You?

Beware the well-educated group of technocrats.

Schröder: Britain the Cause of the Euro Crisis

Schröder: Britain the Cause of the Euro Crisis

Getty Images

Britain is the EU’s biggest problem and the reason the eurozone’s economies haven’t been fixed, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said on November 7. He accused Britain of standing in the way of the reforms Europe needed to fix its economy.

“We need to press ahead with Europe’s political unity, towards a kind of European federation,” said Schröder.

Why hasn’t that happened?

“The problem has a name, and that’s Britain,” he said. “As long as the British block these moves, nothing will happen.”

“We can assume that Britain is no longer willing to join the euro area,” said Schröder. “Countries that are not in the euro area cannot prevent greater integration. It’s tough but you cannot say ‘I will not be there but I want a say.’”

Schröder’s comments are exaggerated, but they contain a kernel of truth. Britain is a brake on European integration. It does not want to be part of a federal Europe, and once it parts ways with the EU, integration will proceed much more quickly.

But is Britain the biggest brake right now? No. The UK is perfectly happy to let the eurozone go ahead and do whatever it wants, as long as Britain is left out of it.

Most of Schröder’s analysis is spot on though. For the euro to be fixed for good—rather than held together with sticking tape, only to fall apart again at the next crisis—the eurozone needs to become a “kind of European federation.” Britain is making this more difficult. But the real obstacle here is that most European countries aren’t willing to give control of their economies over to a central authority. And since German money would be at stake, Germany would control that authority. At the same time, Germany doesn’t want to risk its money and financial reputation purely for the sake of the southern European nations.

The crisis will have to get worse to persuade both southern Europe and Germany to form a European superstate. In the meantime, Britain is guilty of getting in the way, so it makes a useful scapegoat.

Schröder also accused Britain, correctly, of blocking EU regulations over the financial sector. Britain has slowed down these regulations as much as it can. Right or wrong, Britain is heavily dependent on its financial center. Europe’s rules—often seemingly designed to take business away from London rather than fix any actual problems—risk harming the only sector that is really prospering in Britain right now. If that is crippled before a new engine of growth is built, it will hurt the whole of Britain and everyone living there.

Schröder’s comments clearly demonstrate that Britain and the eurozone are on separate paths. The eurozone is on its way to becoming a superstate, while Britain isn’t even sure it wants to be in the EU in its current form.