Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘environmental regulations’

“Cap-and-trade” legislation: What the bill would really do

Posted by sanityinjection on April 10, 2009

The Wall Street Journal looks at the details of the proposed “cap-and-trade” legislation to limit carbon emissions and finds that the bill covers a lot more than many of us thought:

As usual with this Congress, the bill’s premise – a system that allows companies to trade carbon credits – is only the springboard for a smorgasbord of wide-ranging regulations on all sorts of products. And since Congress has already demonstrated with the stimulus bill that it doesn’t read legislation before approving it, why shouldn’t Democrat leaders feel they can stuff the bill with every nutty enviro-leftist idea they’ve come up with in the last 30 years? Remember, no one cares about the actual science anymore.

You can dish out a lot of punishment to the working stiffs of middle America. But let me tell you, if they pass a law that requires emissions upgrades that triple the price of John Q. Public’s John Deere riding lawnmower, there is going to be hell to pay. A man can only endure so much.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dirty dishes in Spokane: When “green” laws fail

Posted by sanityinjection on March 27, 2009

The Associated Press brings us the sad story of the people of Spokane County, Washington, who can’t get their dishes clean:

This is a classic example of how well-meaning “green” initiatives can backfire. Spokane County thought it was doing something great for the environment by enacting a local ordinance banning high-phosphate dish detergents. The good people of Spokane tried using the “green” detergents, but found they didn’t work as well, so they ended up just crossing the state line to Idaho to buy the polluting detergents again. The environment doesn’t benefit, just storeowners in Idaho, while both businesses and residents in Spokane are inconvenienced.

Low-phosphate detergents are a good idea, but this sort of regulation has to be broader than just one county, or else it will inevitably fail. The lesson for local governments is: Don’t try to save the world – stick to focusing on things you can control. If you must tackle larger issues, do so together with your neighbors, don’t try to go it alone.

The lesson for all of us is: It doesn’t matter how well-meaning you may be or how earnest your desire to preserve the environment. Anytime an environmental initiative – or any government initiative, really – is proposed, instead of moving forward on an ideological basis (“Clean water good, phosphates bad!”), you have to look forward and see what the practical consequences are going to be. What happened in Spokane was entirely predictable and could have been avoided if enough people had looked at the issue practically instead of emotionally.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

How environmental regulations can hurt the economy

Posted by sanityinjection on January 30, 2009

Great item in the Pasadena Star-News about the impact of a new environmental regulation set to take effect in California in April. The purpose of the regulation is to cut down on gasoline vapor emissions, certainly a worthy goal. Gasoline pumps all over America already have equipment installed to reduce vapor emissions. California is now taking that process a step further by requiring all gas stations in the state to install a new generation of vapor recovery equipment.

So what’s the problem? The equipment is expensive, and the state is not chipping in anything to pay for it. Which means gas station owners will be forced to pay for it themselves, to the tune of some $35,000 in capital outlay. As a result, about 2.5% of gas stations in California are expected to go out of business rather than comply with the new regs.

You might argue that this is a necessary price to pay for cleaner air. But consider: In California at present, 2,322 tons of gasoline vapor emissions are produced each day. Once these new regulations are in effect and all gas stations have the new equipment, that number will be reduced by a total of – 7 tons. Do the math – that is a reduction of 0.3%! Even if the state of California were willing (or able) to pay for all or part of the cost, that seems like a negligible benefit for the money.

This is a perfect example of how the devil of environmental regulations is often in the details. When you say, “These regulations will make our air cleaner,” it sure sounds like a good idea – who doesn’t want cleaner air. But when you say, “These regulations will make our air only a tiny bit cleaner while driving family-owned gas stations out of business”, suddenly it doesn’t look like such a good idea anymore.

The state of California claims that gas station owners should be able to cover the cost of the new equipment by raising the price of their gas 68 cents per gallon – more for lower-volume sellers. Right, and how is the mom-and-pop operation that raises their prices going to compete with the wholly-owned Mobil or Shell station that can absorb the cost and not pass it on to consumers? Who’s going to pay the extra cost when they can just go to the gas station around the corner?

Again, reducing gasoline vapors is a good thing – they are a major contributor to smog, and we can all agree that smog is bad. But what we see here is a regulation being passed by people who aren’t looking at the whole picture, and believe that any means are justified in achieving the goal of a cleaner environment.

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »