It must just be me, but I can’t see how loosening pollution restrictions on energy producers encourages emissions reductions. Of course, I’ve come to expect this of the current administration; what’s more disappointing, though, is that every story I’ve read on these new EPA rules just repeats that quote, without ever questioning how it could possibly be true. What happened to hard journalism?


I’ve really got to get my own weblog so that I can cease bothering you and your readers, but…

The theory of the new regulations was summed up pretty well by MSNBC: “Under the new rules… facilities would get “greater flexibility” to modernize their operations without a New Resource Review as long as they don’t increase pollution and agree to emission caps that will be worked out in the future.
Under the old rule, facilities seeking to expand or change had to go through NSR and were forced to invest in state-of-the-art pollution controls.”

One key phrase is “as long as they don’t increase pollution”, but the main point is that coming fully up to modern code may have been so onerous that many facilities simply put off all upgrades and improvements, even those which would have reduced emissions. Essentially, the government had been saying - you can either spend $0 or $100 million to improve your plant’s environmental compliance, with no in-between.

• Posted by: PLC on Nov 22, 2002, 4:46 PM

PLC has really explained it fairly well, but I’d like to expound on a simple point; that regulations have consequences, often the opposite of what they were meant to accomplish.

When regulation get triggered by upgrades or modernization, then the regulated community will seek to avoid upgrading or modernizing so that they won’t have to subject themsevles to the new regulations. This effect is greater when the new regualtions are more strict.

By removing disincentives to modernization, the EPA is encouraging upgrades to new technologies which might be better -or at least have no net loss - than those it sought to impose. And, we can almost guarantee that there will be less expense that gets passed on to the consumer. (Regulations are not free, and anyone who tells you they are is uninformed.)

So, here’s the outcomes of the new EPA rules: same or better air quality; less expense; more room for the regulated community to find solutions that work better than those mandated by the government previously. This is win-win-win, and shame on the media for buying the Hard Green story hook line and sinker.

• Posted by: Mike on Nov 24, 2002, 9:28 PM
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