Hey guys, it snowed in DC!! Happy Snowy Saturday. I hope this means that you are reading your daily spinach in bed with a cup of hot chocolate, because when it snows outside, there is no reason to get out of bed. And if you don’t have to get out of bed, who needs coffee?
Then again, you might need something stronger if you’ve been following the latest shenanigans of the GOP. So I bring you episode 3 of my Longest Rant Ever (grammatically speaking that does not warrant capital letters, but from a stylistic standpoint it most certainly does.) This one’s my favorite, and one that most of you have probably heard before:
Viewpoint #3: Okay, so climate change and pollution are a problem, but we simply cannot afford it right now. Americans need jobs! We have to fix the economy first, and all these regulations will just drive up costs. We cannot burden corporations and businesses with the bureaucratic red tape that comes from regulating food, water, air, and energy sources.
Held By: Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, the media
Why it’s Hogwash: I’ve debunked this myth so many times that I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but it’s so omnipresent that it bears addressing yet again. First of all, environmental regulations do not, have not, and never will ruin jobs or small businesses, unless those businesses are already operating in a thoroughly irresponsible way. Valid businesses should be operating with the resources and knowledge to do whatever job they are doing correctly and responsibly. And that means complying with regulations that are put in place to protect people and communities.
By and large, regulations which force companies to consider the environmental impacts of their efforts and to be responsible in the materials that they use and the waste they create and dispose of were created in response to a real and tangible problem. There is a characterization of environmental statues as though they were put in place to protect trees and fuzzy animals (which may be true in the case of the Endangered Species Act, but even that is an oversimplifications – it’s really in place to protect delicate ecosystems.) Most are in place to protect you, oh spinachlover, from harmful contaminants in air, water, and land that you use every day.
On top of that, haven’t you ever heard your grandmother use the phrase “Haste makes waste?” Or maybe she was a crafty gal and used to say, “A stitch in time saves nine?” The message that you learned in Kindergarten still applies today: it is always easier and better to do something right the first time around rather than having to go back and clean up the mess that you made. This is true of a lot of things: woodworking, sewing, home improvement projects, writing memos, marriage, high school….and the environment. Cleanup of locations that have been contaminated is a far more challenging, expensive, and time consuming process and costs the federal government far more money than any additional costs incurred by doing the job right the first time around. Think about Deepwater Horizon as an example: there is no question that it would have been much cheaper for BP and the associated companies to just spend a little extra time and money up front than to deal with the disastrous consequences which have likely ruined the Gulf waters for decades.
What’s more – the alternative to not having regulations, of course, is to leave them alone, and bear the cost in terms of public health. This would mean increased cases of cancer, asthma, birth defects, and development disorders result from the chemicals that we are all exposed to on a daily basis. The same is true for the cost of not regulating consumer goods such as food, water, and household chemicals. Take the example of lead exposure: of course it’s been a tough process to remove lead from paint and gasoline. But consider the impacts of lead poisoning: kidney failure, liver failure, damage to the reproductive system, and symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, bone damage, and seizures and personality change from the intense neurological damage that lead exposure causes. Does that sound like fun to you? It certainly doesn’t to me.