Earth Day was celebrated throughout the Nation earlier this week with the routine tree-planting ceremonies, litter-cleaning outings and school lesson plans based on environmental stewardship. And, of course, there was the requisite alarmist shrieking from those Americans who believe the Presidential Administration’s hyped up warnings that the United States is on the verge of becoming a 3.8 million square mile garbage dumb — because of the sequester, of course.
Aptly timed with regard to the White House’s policy of making even the smallest cuts related to sequester as visible as possible, the Environmental Protection Agency began implementing furloughs that will affect its nearly 17,000 employees on April 21. With Earth Day on the brain, supporters of the agency’s continual red tape throttling of American industry took to the Internet in droves early this week to lament that cutbacks mean impending environmental doom for the United States.
The EPA does perform some rudimentary functions in the name of environment protection that all Americans should appreciate. After all, we all require clean water; and no one wants to breathe smog-ridden air or suffer health problems in the name of industrial profits.
But to suggest that the EPA has no room to make budget cuts if Americans aren’t willing to live in an industrial cesspool of hazardous waste is to suggest that the EPA could not have saved some money and continued reasonable environmental protection endeavors by cutting these items from last year’s budget:
- A $141,450 grant under the Clean Air Act to fund a Chinese study on pig manure.
- A $1.2 million gift to the United Nations for the “promotion” of clean fuels throughout the world.
- A $67,926 poster contest at Syracuse University that had fewer than 10 entries.
- Twenty EPA conferences costing an average of $182,847 for a total conference bill of $3.7 million.
The EPA may be dealing with some budget woes; but there is plenty of evidence that throttling down some of its more burdening regulations, especially those that heavily penalize coal-powered energy producers in the name of promoting yet-to-succeed green energy initiatives, could embolden the economy as a whole, thus increasing government revenues down the road.
A study conducted last year by the National Economic Research Associates examined the impact of seven EPA regulations on coal-fueled power plants. Researchers found that those regulations will ultimately be responsible for up to 887,000 yearly job losses in that industry alone in coming years. The study also indicated that compliance costs for the electric sector was around $16.7 billion per year.
There is currently a legislative movement to require the EPA to report the projected financial burden of new environmental regulation.
The examples of government wasteful spending and the costs of regulatory actions could go on ad infinitum — but the bottom line for many conservatives is that the EPA should back off on its assaults against coal power and industry until environmentalists have a better plan. Government-subsidized green-energy disasters like Solyndra provide evidence that fossil fuels are here to stay for at least a while longer.
Environmentalists commonly argue that the United States must be at the forefront of environmental protection, a shining example of a clean industrial nation for the entire world to see. But, if overbearing regulation chases industry from the Nation and puts more Americans on the welfare rolls, does it make sense that countries that have just recently pulled themselves from the pits of poverty with the help of industry (burdened by far less regulation than their American counterparts) will follow suit? It seems more likely to many observers that international interests will jump at the opportunity to welcome more industry and lure manufacturers with the promise of regulation-lite operating environments.
Unless the EPA can figure out a way to keep wind and water from moving fluidly across geographic borders, many would argue that they ought to lighten up on American industry and do their best to slowly coax those lesser-of-evil polluters to the side of clean, green environmental manufacturing with profit motives.