The Wilmington StarNews editorial board writes, “Health and environment must take priority in regulatory reform talks.” Editors might want to rethink their environmental politics in view of facts and the real world. (link)
Personal health and safety certainly have a high priority with each of us. However, without economic security we would have few means to protect ourselves. Also, polls show that our surroundings (the “environment”) often fall to the bottom of a list of personal concerns—most reasonable people intuitively recognize that the all-powerful dynamic, self-sustaining characteristics of our natural world can’t be regulated by mere human manipulation. Further, we must use our natural resources to maintain and improve the quality of our lives. Of course, not all of us are reasonable.
The issue here is state versus federal air quality regulations; specifically, the North Carolina Air Toxics Program. Democrat Governor Beverly Perdue suggests that this program isn’t necessary because it duplicates federal regulations under the Environmental Protection Agency. Air doesn’t confine itself within state boundaries—but it’s chased vigorously by the EPA. (link)
Editors worry that Republican majorities at state and federal levels will “kill or reduce” emission rules now imposed (and more planned). They needn’t fear. For decades, under both party’s control, environmental rules have unaccountably proliferated to the point of strangling economic progress and individual property rights in America; much of this instigated by radical environmental groups seeking more power over our economy and lives.
And, once again, editors can’t resist fanning the embers of “Titan Cement’s proposed Castle Hayne plant.” Regional environmental activists started a local brush-fire to “Stop Titan” years ago. Editors persist in spreading “distrust that exists” because Carolinas Cement finally, after more than three years, received an air quality permit from the N. C. Division of Air Quality in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In my opinion, more people distrust the environmental activists than those who dislike the cement company.
Anyway, editors may want to restrain their angst about “an appropriate balance” between economic growth and protecting against chemical pollution. The scales have tipped far-left toward excessive “protecting” when no evidence suggests stringent, expensive rules are justified.
For example, in 2002 (long before Titan came on the scene) the N. C. state legislature passed the Clean Smokestacks Bill. Dr. Roy Cordato of the John Locke Foundation explained how this came about: (link)
“The CSB started out as model legislation written and pushed by Environmental Defense (ED), a leftwing environmental pressure group. In 2000 and 2001 ED was shopping its legislation around to many states, but North Carolina, under the administration of the new (Democrat) governor, Mike Easley, was the only state to show interest. Ultimately, the bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of both parties, substantively unchanged from the original model legislation pushed by ED.”
Dr. Cordato’s analysis of results in 2010 showed that by 2009 implementation costs exceeded original estimates by nearly one billion dollars; not including “Progress Energy’s CSB-influenced decision to convert two coal-fired plants (one in New Hanover County)” to natural gas.
In 2005 DENR credited the new law with reducing high ozone days in North Carolina, but no studies showed that to be true. In fact, data by Cordato show no difference in air quality between the five years before the regulation and the five years since (2005-2009). Further, there was no difference “in NC’s air-quality performance relative to (four) neighboring states’,” writes Cordato. And not one of them has enacted similar legislation.
This exercise in unnecessary regulation, that showed no benefit, cost billions of dollars to implement and will forever burden local consumers with higher electric bills (“in 2008 the costs of generating electricity from natural gas were about three times greater than the costs of generating electricity from coal”)—for what gain?
Nothing, for most citizens; but it gives more political power to radicals intent on damaging our economic progress and imposing their utopian control on our lives through government regulation. Editors have chosen sides in the environmental politics conflict, but they also choose to ignore reality.Read full article » No Comments »