There are so many interesting environmental issues afloat of late one is left wondering where to begin; I’ll start with ozone, in particular, the EPA’s overreach in its attempt to set more stringent standards for ozone two years before its own study on the effects of ozone emissions is to be delivered. Shoot, ready, aim! is evidently the EPA’s course of action de jure. Talk about getting ahead of the science! In today’s Wall Street Journal, former Michigan Governor John Engler – a man who should know a thing or two about job killing regulations — notes that the EPA’s ozone rules will cost the economy billions of dollars and millions of jobs. The other shoe to drop, the issue the Governor does not discuss but that it just as important, is the fact that the proposed ozone rules won’t improve public health. Indeed, as we at the NCPA have argued in a number of publications over a couple of years, the ozone rules could result in reduced public health and increased premature mortality. Existing ozone levels are already below what is necessary to protect public health, and the jobs that will be lost due to the stricter, unnecessary, standard, will mean lost health insurance and increased poverty – poverty, not air quality, is the biggest threat to public health.
I recently spoke on this issue:
An article by Bloomberg’s Virginia Postrel opens another front in the ongoing war to reestablish consumer choice concerning light bulbs. Postrel notes that the public never wanted the light bulb ban. It was driven by public environmental scolds and elitist Washington insiders – both Republicans and Democrats – who gave the ever popular, common incandescent light bulb a slow acting lethal injection in a little read (outside the policy wonk world) portion of the 300 + page 2007 energy bill – passed with help from Republicans and signed by a Republican President.
Driven by the infusion of new, small-government, tea-party backed legislators, some Republicans that had previously supported forcing consumers to buy more expensive, more dangerous, less functional light bulbs, recanted and supported repealing the incandescent bulb ban. Unfortunately, the way the house rules work, a bill that would have repealed the ban and reinstituted consumer choice failed to gain the 2/3 votes needed for enactment. It passed 233 to 193 (to succeed, the bill needed 287 votes). Thus, the Democrats and they alone own this issue now. President Obama and his cronies in the House and Senate stand firmly against the vast majority of the American people on the issue of who should choose your light bulbs – you or Washington. For the President and the Democrats, the answer is clear: Washington.
And what about that debt and the yearly budget deficit that keeps adding too it. Amid the back and forth between the President and Congress over whether (not so much of a debate) and how to raise the debt limit, President Obama’s bottom line seems to be, raise it but only with new revenues.
California Congressman Kevin McCarthy has a solution, H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011, which would open approximately than 43 million acres of public lands currently locked away from widespread public use as wilderness study areas or roadless areas – as a payoff to environmental lobbyists – to a variety of productive uses. These lands have already been determined to be unsuitable for listing as statutory wilderness areas. Allowing these lands to be managed for multiple-use enables local land managers and communities to potentially allow for reasonable resource development – including domestic energy production, mining and logging – which improves forest management. In addition, more reliable grazing and numerous recreational activities, including motorized sports and increased access for better hunting and fishing would be allowed. Opening up these lands would make it much easier to clear fallen and rotten trees and underbrush, reducing the danger of the out-of-control wildfires that have been prevalent in California and around the nation in recent years. Most importantly, his proposal would create jobs and generate new revenues both for rural and outlying communities across the country that depend on visitors to our national forests and public lands and for the federal government. In others words, McCarthy’s bill would help the economy and reduce the deficit – and all without raising taxes.
In my opinion, McCarthy’s bill is a good first step, but only a first step as I have written concerning the environmental and economic benefits that would flow from the government disposing of – selling and or privatizing through other means — a significant portion of the National Forests and grazing lands it currently holds. Government ownership has resulted in economic losses and environmental destruction. Absent privatization, the NCPA and other groups have suggested a number of different management regimes that would bring the benefits of competition despite continued public control.
Despite the fact that McCarthy’s plan is a sensible step to meet President Obama’s goal of reducing the deficit through increased revenues, because it will offend the President’s radical environmental backers and it doesn’t fit into his class warfare, soak the rich, rhetoric, it stands little chance of getting through the Senate (if it gets out of the House) much less surviving a near certain veto. A good idea, but the wrong administration to shop it too.