Beware the Big Green Wall Ahead

As individual citizens and consumers we favor environmental responsibility and the use of clean energy.  We get it, we do.

There is broad public support for environmental laws and regulations that force businesses to clean up their act and not dump their waste products into our air and water.  Since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring we have been fed a continuous stream of messages about protecting the environment and it is now part of our cultural DNA.

Much of the easy and obvious stuff is now accomplished and embedded in our daily work and lives. But just because we can celebrate our successes does not mean we don’t have room for further improvements especially as advances in technology make possible things we scarcely could imagine a few years ago.

Our disquiet about environmental balance

The reasons for that disquiet are many and cumulative.

  1. The marginal cost of the new environmental regulations proposed by the US EPA such as the Cross State Air Rule, the Maximum Available Control Technology Rule and others are staggering while the marginal benefits seem modest.
  2. The cumulative impact of regulatory demand for above market cost renewable technologies seems likely to drive up utility rates even after large tax subsidies are paid to promote, develop and construct the clean energy projects.
  3. The combined impact of new environmental regulations force reduction in the use of fossil fuels before their replacements in wind and solar can be built economically and in enough scale causing concerns about energy reliability.

Our disquiet is growing because increasingly we see our Federal and State Governments pursuing political policies that cross our public interest line in the sand about reasonableness, responsibility, security, fairness and affordability.

Our disquiet is real because we see our government policies being hijacked by special interest groups and politicians that pander to them for support that are at odds with our own sense of balance.

Our disquiet is pent up ready to explode because at a time when we need our economy to grow and create jobs to restore America’s global economic competitiveness, we sense that our own laws, rules and politically correct policies stand in the way of a recovery we badly need.

The latter day risk for business that indiscriminately polluted our air and water and failed to stop it was the enactment of new laws and regulations to force compliance with our consensus polity view that we wanted to leave the planet a cleaner place for our children than we inherited.

The growing risk for environmental advocates and government regulators is that policies which push too hard, too fast and cost too much for too many will be seen as irresponsible and unsustainable. 

We refuse to tax, spend and regulate ourselves into a permanent state of economic non-competitiveness in pursuit of an environmental agenda we see as too much politics and not enough common sense.

The sleeper issue in the 2012 election is the need for balance between environmental responsibility and economic responsibility.  The mood of the public seems to be telling us that the Obama Administration is pushing us too far, too fast, too hard with its regulatory revenge for the failure to win Congressional approval for Cap and Trade Carbon legislation.  We are coming to believe this push too hard is more politics and environmental responsibility as the consequences of the newly adopted regulations pile up.  The Republicans will make a mistake if they interpret our disquiet as a revulsion of environmental responsibility.  We don’t want business interest to be able to do anything they want just as much as we don’t want environmental interests to be able to hold us hostage to rules that protect a bug, or rat, or fish more than the interests of people and our national economic interest.

We want balance people—why can’t you see that!

As citizens we are tired of Washington games of political gotcha with our best interests.  We are tired of the states taxing us and regulating us into submission for pet politically correct causes environmental or otherwise.  We think the regulatory process has been hijacked, is out of control and no longer serves the public interest.  We see the constant political scoring of points in Washington as corrosive and cynically being used to extract the maximum political cash out of special interest groups and lobbyists.  It turns us off!

The bottom line is there is a looming big green wall ahead where our tolerance of political correctness and massive costs and disruption for little or small marginal environmental gains will foul the nest and ruin the habitat of broad public support.

Actions will hit the big green wall if they seem to do more harm than good to our global economic competitiveness, undermine our domestic energy production, security and reliability or favor rats over people one too many times.

Our current environmental laws are broken because they do not impose a duty of balance on the parties bringing the actions.  They do not allow a rational defense against lawsuits and regulations based upon the reasonable balancing of costs and benefits.  They do not require explicitly in the environmental laws that courts play the role we intended courts to play as an honest referee equitably balancing the interests of people and fish in the public interest.  Our national economic, energy security and global competitiveness public interests are at least as important as the habitat needs of rats, frogs, and lizards.

The big green wall is a day of rapture and reckoning ahead when the American public shouts ENOUGH!  We’re mad as hell and we are not going to take this anymore!  There is a high probability that environmental overreach will be the spark that ignites that explosion but the fire and brimstone consequences will spread out across a regulatory process out of control that fails to serve the public interest, is too easily manipulated by special interest groups on both the left and right and presents a clear and present danger to America’s future.

Balance!  Reasonableness!  That is our Advent prayer!