Tuesday, June 27, 2017

EPA Cuts in the Climate Change ‘Fight’ Means More Money to Mitigate Real Pollution

Former New Jersey Governor James J. Florio continued the NJ Star-Ledger’s Earth Day assault. Trump has proposed a 31% cut in the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency. Part of the cut is to be achieved by eliminating climate change funding, including moneys that fund climate change considerations in environmental reviews.

EPA reductions on SuperFund cleanups will particularly impact our State with more such toxic sites than any other State. With over 110 toxic sites within our 21 counties, we average about five sites per County. That means no one lives very far from one of these toxic locations that are officially designated as "imminent and substantial hazards to human health and the environment".  Leaching as they do into our surface and ground drinking water supplies, expeditious remediation is essential to deal with these catastrophic problems of past practices.
In a related issue defending existing laws, such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery act (RCRA), which prospectively regulates the disposal of toxic waste, insures the creation of new SuperFund sites. [sic]

These are legitimate concerns, as is the issue of clean water. “In the 21st Century, with a new awareness of the problems associated with fossil fuels,” writes Florio, “water has assumed th[e] role [of] indispensable lubricant” of economic and social development. Note that Florio no longer views fossil fuels as indispensable in cleaning up pollution, but as part of the problem. We’ll see why later.

SuperFund sites are contaminated old industrial sites, often left over from defunct corporations. It’s arguable whether the government should be paying to clean up or contain the pollution of these sites. Where the polluting corporation is still in existence, it can and should, and usually is, made to fund the cleanup, or at least part of it. As to abandoned sites that pose a danger to innocent parties but in which responsible parties no longer exist or are unknown, the question must be asked in regard to paying for cleanup costs, “If not the general taxpayer, then whom?” I have no answer. It’s a question more properly addressed by free market legal scholars.

That constitutional issue aside, Florio followed his last statement with what one commenting correspondent labeled “a bizarre non- sequitur”:

Likewise, the failure to take seriously climate change concerns, denying even the existence of the problem by the Trump-appointed head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is a major threat to New Jersey's water supply.  

I chose this sentence as a lead into my comments, which I have edited for clarity:

Climate Change. Therein lies the problem—but it’s not the problem Governor Florio sees.

What is scientifically demonstrated—hysterical speculation to the contrary notwithstanding—is that the causes of modern climate change is some heretofore debatable combination of natural and human causes, but which in any event is benign, mild, and manageable. Yet the EPA is wasting enormous financial resources on “fighting climate change?” Why?

Climate catastrophism is a political agenda of the statists on the Left—an agenda rationalized by the idiotic notion that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. If the EPA could stop wasting $billions on “fighting climate change”—which Trump seems to intend to do—the bloated EPA budget can be cut without reducing spending on cleaning up real pollution. The Federal Government may even be able to increase funding of legitimate pollution cleanup while cutting the budget and saving taxpayers money.

Wasteful climate change spending is the problem. (There’s probably a lot of waste in the superfund cleanup operation, as well, given that the EPA seems to be staffed in part by environmentalist zealots.) That issue aside for the moment, Pruitt appears to be a level-headed guy and a welcome rational counterbalance to the climate change hystericists. Pollution certainly has been a negative side effect of industrialization. And a lot of anti-pollution progress has already been made, but no one would argue against the notion that more needs to be done. The government and law has a role in this. (What that role entails is beyond the scope of this discussion.)

I think Pruitt may do a good job of prioritizing spending and separating the Ideological Environmentalism’s political agenda from the practical work of pollution control and cleanup. I certainly trust him more than I trust the quasi-religious climate catastrophists and their enablers.

Related Reading:

The planet has never been a safer place for humans to live—Alex Epstein

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