from the above:
“Forcing Impossible Trade-offs for Clean Air and Water
President Trump issued an executive order forcing federal agencies to gut two regulations for every new safeguard they create. We’re fighting back.”
What does Trump’s “False Choices” Executive Order do? In a move that seeks to hamstring federal agencies protecting our environment, health, safety, workforce, and civil rights, Trump issued an executive order forcing agencies to repeal two regulations before creating a new safeguard.
The executive order also requires that all regulations from the federal government cost regulated industries $0 in 2017. This order directs agencies to trade one regulation against another without taking into account the enormous benefits of saving lives, protecting our health, safeguarding fundamental rights, and preserving wildlife and open spaces.”
Thanks Earth Justice for your insightful article!
Why else is this “two for one” idea so dumb? And arrogant?
Imagine an industry such as strip coal mining. The mining company owns a plot of land and decimates it, which involves ecological devastation to the surrounding areas, which it doesn’t own. Waters downstream become polluted. But the company owners/stockholders/ management don’t drink that water. Air and water pollution, they unjustifiably reason, which may emanate from their site, are not affecting them directly, and it is more profitable for the enterprise to continue to operate in that manner.
It is called the tragedy of the commons. And it is the basic premise the Environmental Protection Agency has forever operated on.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine how civilization could have evolved absent this basic concept. It goes way back to the bible. Ethicist/philosopher Emanuel Kant called it the “categorical imperative”. Kant reasoned that if you indulge in an action that is harmful to others, while gaining an advantage for yourself (for example, stealing from others) and everyone adapted that same action, eventually you will be stolen from, losing all your original advantage (and maybe more). And while you are hurting yourself, you will be hurting everyone else too. Alas, there is unfortunately almost always a time lag.
It really is a commonsense concept. In the case of air and water pollution, yes it is often cheaper and effort-free for an enterprise, person, or group to pollute the air and water, reasoning that they don’t really belong to anyone anyway. So we have the EPA. And more rules develop as polluters constantly evolve new ways to get away with sidestepping prior rules. Hence, regulations must evolve in response to shortcuts that privately owned entities keep finding to enhance their profits.
Looking at the complex balance that supports life on earth, and a thriving civilization, does it make sense to impose an arbitrary rule such as this two for one rule?
So let’s assume Steve Bannon is as smart a guy as he thinks he is. Let’s get the government out of the regulation business, he reasons. Now, if I am personally harmed by an entity which pollutes the air, and I suffer emphysema as a consequence, leading to medical bills and even death, shouldn’t I, or my family, be compensated? Or the entity pollutes the water with mercury causing brain damage to my kids? If we are not compensated, and we are absent regulation in the first place, than civilization breaks apart. Really.
And if I am properly compensated, than the polluter loses all advantage. Anyone hear Mr. Bannon or President Trump talking about this? This is the one critically necessary component of easing environmental regulations.
The problem has always been in tracing back the cause of harm and the cost and time of waging a citizen versus enterprise lawsuit. This is where the real conversation needs to start. With modern diagnostic and monitoring technology, tracing back to causes of harm is now quite feasible.
Presumably Bannon, Trump, and his wealthy cohorts can afford to live in a totally polluted world, fortified by the money made investing in enterprises that enhance their profits by skirting common sense environmental rules. All the while comfortably living in their filtered air conditioned air and bottled water enclaves. At least until the power runs out and their kids or grandkids can’t play outside.