Public be damned: Anti-regulation fever infects common sense
Share with others:
As a quick glimpse at Republicans debating in presidential forums or in Congress will confirm, regulation is one of their scapegoats of the hour in a struggling economy. Regulating businesses, they say, kills jobs.
But too little or no regulation brings its own harm in the real world -- as a cursory reading of the newspaper will also confirm.
Consider the Environmental Protection Agency, which came into being more than 40 years ago under a Republican president, Richard Nixon. These days Republicans in Congress are doing their best to gut the agency's enforcement powers, particularly in the area of airborne pollutants.
Environmentalists fear another attack next week when the House votes on HR 2250 and HR 2681, which are attempts to repeal recent EPA rules under the Clean Air Act restricting toxic emissions from incinerators, boilers and cement kilns. Once again, protecting jobs is the excuse for jeopardizing the health of Americans.
How people feel about their well-being can be gauged from a meeting in Pittsburgh Tuesday. The EPA held one of three national hearings on new air pollution standards for oil and gas emissions, a particular regional concern because of Marcellus Shale drilling operations.
Some 108 speakers signed up to be heard at the daylong meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, many of them people living near gas wells. All but about a dozen of the speakers supported the regulations. In addition, the Sierra Club presented the three EPA officials with 23,560 comments gathered from people concerned about drilling here and elsewhere. Anti-regulation dogma aside, jobs are fine but so is health.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican and tea party favorite, has been the sole holdout blocking a law to strengthen safety rules for oil and gas pipelines -- a need which even the industry acknowledges after a deadly gas pipeline explosion last year and other mishaps.
But Sen. Paul dislikes federal regulation more than the chance to avert tragedy. And right there is all the proof that is needed of the moral bankruptcy of anti-regulation ideology.
First Published September 29, 2011 12:00 am