How Government Environmental Protection Works

When many of my friends find out Ron Paul wants to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) they flip out. These friends believe the EPA actually protects the environment when in fact they do no such thing. If the EPA was actually interested in protecting the environment they would allow lawsuits against polluters by individuals whose land and body the polluters have contaminated. Instead the EPA states entities that only emit arbitrarily selected amounts of pollution are basically immune from civil suits and issues waivers to favored corporations so they aren’t hindered by legislation while their competitors have to deal with the additional expenses of complying with those regulations.

Such corruption isn’t exclusive to the federal government though, state governments like getting in on the action as well:

A BP (BP) refinery in Indiana will be allowed to continue to dump mercury into Lake Michigan under a permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The permit exempts the BP plant at Whiting, Ind., 3 miles southeast of Chicago, from a 1995 federal regulation limiting mercury discharges into the Great Lakes to 1.3 ounces per year.

If you have the money government environmental protection agencies will grants you special privileges so you don’t have to deal with those nasty and expensive regulations. While your company reaps the benefits of these immunities your competitors will be forced to pass on the expense of complying with those regulations to their customers, making their product more expensive than yours.

Indiana officials said the amount of mercury released by BP was minor.

“The permitted levels will not affect drinking water, recreation or aquatic life,” Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Thomas Easterly told the Chicago Tribune.

Than why did British Petroleum (BP) have to get a special permit? If the amount of mercury they’re dumping is insignificant shouldn’t all companies be allowed to dump the same amount without special permission? Shouldn’t everybody be treated equally under the law? Why can companies will huge bank accounts buy special privileges?

The same answer applies to all of these questions, it’s not about environmental protection it’s about extortion. By declaring rule over environmental issues the government has created a new revenue stream for themselves in the form of permits and waivers. Large polluters support these regulations under the veil of environmental concern when in fact their support stems from the fact that they can afford to deal with these measures while their competitors can’t. Expensive environmental regulations further distort the market by favoring wealthy established companies and making the barrier of entry into many markets so high that no upstart can’t afford it.

People who want to protect the environment should be demanding the abolition of state controlled environmental protection agencies and the establishment of strict property rights. If a company is dumping pollutants that are contaminating land or water owned by individuals those individuals should be able to sue based on the fact their property rights have been violated. You can rest assured that everybody living on the shore of Lake Michigan suing BP would cost them a pretty penny and urge them to find some other way of dealing with their mercury.

2 thoughts on “How Government Environmental Protection Works”

  1. Years ago I worked for a picture tube manufacturer. When we added another production line, we had to re-apply for permits because our levels of various pollutants was going to go up. None of this was based on how much product we made, and I never did get an answer on how our limits were determined.

    1. Arbitrary permit and licensing cost is a real detriment to anybody wanting to setup manufacturing here in the United States. When people ask why there are no factories here part of the reason that must be explained is that EPA regulations make the cost of building a plant here so astronomically high that no sane producer would foot the bill as it would take years just to pay for regulatory compliance.

      It’s even more annoying when the cost of regulatory compliance, permits, and licensing is arbitrarily selected.

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