Steven Hayward- Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research
Hayward is Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies for the Pacific
Research Institute. He
is also nationally recognized for his recently released book, The
Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order 1964-1980 (Prima
Publishing, 2001), and Churchill on Leadership: Executive
Success in the Face of Adversity (Prima Publishing, 1997).
[go to Hayward index]
Environmental policy - the Gipper's way...
[Steven Hayward] 12/11/03
In a surprise announcement last week, the Bush
Administration unveiled a plan to implement a sweeping new
air quality regime. It is aimed at reducing the emissions of
sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) through a system
of tradeable emissions permits. Once fully implemented in 30
eastern states, the system will enable 90 percent of eastern
regions currently out of compliance with the new ozone and
particulate standards to reach compliance over the next decade.
The measure will also reduce mercury emissions from power plants,
and therein lies a tale.
reacted to this news with their usual vapors, which proves
that the Bush administration
has a sense of humor
for its unhinged critics. In the strange argot of Washington,
a reduction in the rate of federal spending is always called
a "cut." Likewise, an emissions-reduction plan
that doesn't match up with hypothetical reductions in the
litigation-rich dream world becomes an increase in pollution.
Like gangsters losing territory to a rival gang, what really
bothers environmentalists is that Bush is threatening to
cut them out of the action with a tradeable emissions mechanism
that uses markets, instead of lawsuits and endless regulations,
to achieve its goals.
This is all
the more ironic when one keeps in mind that environmentalists
favor tradeable emissions mechanisms for reducing carbon
dioxide. So why not for other air pollutants? Some intrepid
should ask about this contradiction. But why let a sensible
debate about policy get in the way of partisan polemics?
In a recent
issue of Rolling Stone, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote that "President
Bush will go down in history as America's worst environmental
president." This merely echoes
a report from several environmental organizations that
President . . . has broken faith with the American people
on environmental protection." Oh, wait a minute:
this quote was about President Reagan in 1982.
of EPA records shows that every category of air
pollution fell during the Reagan Administration, even
charged then, as they do now about Bush, that Reagan
was "emasculating" the
Clean Air Act. Apparently wolves are no longer an endangered
species, given how often environmentalists are making
wolf cries. Prediction: air pollution is going to continue
under Bush; when the data come out in 2010, environmentalists
will change the subject.
are especially upset that the Bush plan won't reduce mercury
as much as they
mercury emissions are not regulated at all.) Mercury
is a tiny byproduct of coal combustion. While SO2
10 million tons a year, total mercury emissions are
no more than a few hundred tons a year. And coal
only account for about a third of the mercury that
in the environment in the U.S. It is not clear that
high levels of mercury in some local fish populations
caused by air
no evidence that anyone is experiencing mercury poisoning from
air pollution. In fact, the
for Disease Control's
most recent report on Human Exposure to Environmental
Chemicals states that no one has blood mercury
levels that reach
the EPA's threshold for adverse health effects.
Chalk this one
up as another ill-founded scare story.
2003 Pacific Research Institute