Friday, September 28, 2012

The End of International Environmentalism

Green ideology crashes and burns at the Rio +20 Earth Summit

Twenty years ago, the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro marked the arrival of environmentalism as a potent force in international affairs. That 1992 conference produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which aims to set limits on global emissions of greenhouse gases, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, which promotes ecosystem conservation. At the time, Chris Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute crowed, "You cannot go to any corner of the globe and not find some degree of environmental awareness and some amount of environmental politics." With socialism in disrepute, Flavin said, environmentalism had become the "most powerful political ideal today."

Two decades later, that ideal is in disarray. A 20th anniversary conference in Brazil last June, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development-nicknamed Rio +20-was an undisguised flop. Greenpeace spokesperson Kumi Naidoo judged Rio +20 a "failure," while Oxfam Chief Executive Barbara Stocking called it a "hoax." More than 1,000 environmentalist and leftist groups signed a post-conference petition entitled "The Future We Don't Want," a play on The Future We Want, the platitudinous document that diplomats from 188 nations agreed on there. Naidoo lamely vowed that disappointed environmentalists would engage in acts of civil disobedience.

Should the people of the world share the greens' despair over the "failure" of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development? No. First of all, "sustainable development" is a Rorschach blot. The United Nations defines it this way: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." That fuzzy concept can be used by anyone to mean anything he likes. So it is not at all surprising that the representatives from rich and poor nations meeting in Rio could not agree on anything substantive under this heading.

Since that first Earth Summit, the world has experienced a lot of beneficial development. In 1992, 46 percent of the planet's population lived in absolute poverty (defined as income equivalent to less than $1.25 per day). Today that number is down to 27 percent, in inflation-adjusted terms. During the same period, average life expectancy has increased by three and a half years.

At Rio +20 environmentalists and the leaders of poor countries were hoping to shake down the rich countries for hundreds of billions of dollars in annual development assistance. But most of the development achieved during the last two decades was not the result of official assistance (a.k.a. taxpayer dollars) from the rich to the poor. In fact, a study published in the February 2012 issue of the Canadian Journal of Economics by a team of German development economists found that aid often retards economic growth, having "an insignificant or minute negative significant impact on per-capita income." Most of the aid is stolen by the kleptocrats who run many poor countries, while the rest is "invested" in projects that are not profitable.

So what has produced so much improvement in the lives of poor people in developing countries since the first Earth Summit?

"Remember in the 1960s, official development assistance accounted for 70 percent of the capital flows to developing nations, but today it amounts to only 13 percent, while at the same time, development budgets have actually increased," explained U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Rio +20. "Why is that? Well, you know very well. Because while continuing to provide assistance, the private-sector investments, using targeted resources and smart policies, have catalyzed more balanced, inclusive, sustainable growth."

Summary: The way to development is trade, not aid.

Activists, frustrated at their inability to effect wealth transfers, are now fixated on a particularly puzzling and disturbing goal: to maintain and expand open-access commons, which are unowned properties available to be exploited by anyone. Many participants at the People's Summit for Social and Environmental Justice, a parallel Rio gathering of 200 environmentalist groups, advocated a green twist on an old red ideology, even postulating that property is theft.

Canonical Marxism predicted that capitalism would collapse under the weight of its class "contradictions," in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer until reaching a social breaking point. In the environmentalist update, capitalism will collapse because the pollution produced by its heedless overconsumption builds to an ecological breaking point. For the hard core, the solution to environmental problems is a kind of eco-socialism in which nature is prevented from being "privatized" or "commodified." This trend in environmentalist thinking might be called commonism.

Looking across the globe, it is true that various aggregate environmental measures have deteriorated. Since 1992, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) claims, biodiversity has declined by 12 percent, and 740 million acres of primary forests have been cut down. Today 53 percent of fish stocks are fully exploited and the share that is overexploited, depleted, or recovering has risen from 10 percent to 32 percent since 1974. But are these calamities the result of rapacious capitalism? Not really.

The same UNEP report notes that 80 percent of the world's forests, which harbor the bulk of the world's biodiversity, are government-owned. Also, in nearly every place where some kind of environmental calamity is under way, it is taking place in an open-access commons. Polluted river? No one owns it. Forest getting cut down? Same problem. Overfishing? Likewise. A water shortage? Ditto. Empirically, calling for the enlargement or reimposition of a commons with respect to an environmental resource or amenity is tantamount to calling for its eventual destruction.

Countries with strong property rights generally see environmental improvement such as reductions in air and water pollution, stable fishery stocks, and expanding forests. That's because owners protect their resources, since they directly suffer the consequences of not doing so. Furthermore, countries with strong property rights are more prosperous and can thus afford the costs of environmental regulations, even inefficient ones, applied to those commons that still remain.

Two decades on, what was once the "most powerful political ideal" on the international scene crashed and burned at Rio +20. The failure of environmentalism as an ideology was inevitable, since it has so badly misconstrued the causes of many of the problems it claims to address. It will be interesting to see in which direction those cherishing a permanent animus against democratic capitalism will now go.


Have I got a deal for you!

If you got an email offering you the chance to invest in a business that would create new profitable industries, employ millions of people, reduce energy consumption without reducing quality of life, and improve environmental quality, would you be skeptical? And if the email went on to claim that the technologies to do all this exist now and could save existing businesses billions of dollars in just a few years by reducing waste and energy use, would you wonder why no one was already implementing all these "common sense" ideas? If the email went on to promise that you could do this all at no risk by investing borrowed money, you'd likely be reaching for the delete key.

If we substitute "the federal government" or "the United Nations Environment Programme" or "the European Union" for "you" and change the email to a proposed law, however, we discover that politicians from Washington to Brussels are embracing measures to "green" the economy and create "green jobs" with an almost religious fervor, despite weak empirical support for these proposals. The Obama administration included billions of spending and tax incentives for green initiatives in its budget, and last spring's "stimulus" bill poured $62 billion in transfers plus $20 billion in tax cuts into "green initiatives."

Unfortunately, the rhetoric about "greening the economy" or creating "green jobs" is just political window-dressing for some of the same central-planning measures proposed by the left for years. Behind that rhetoric are proposals built around government subsidies for favored technologies, measures to limit trade, and a great deal of wishful thinking about alternative energy measures not quite ready for prime time.

What Counts as Green?

The first problem in untangling the claims made by green-economy proponents is determining what counts as a "green" job or technology. Many times no definition at all is provided; even when the term is defined, different groups pick quite different definitions. For example, the U.S. Conference of Mayors' report Current and Potential Green Jobs in the U.S. Economy defines a green job as

    "any activity that generates electricity using renewable or nuclear fuels, agriculture jobs supplying corn or soy for transportation fuels, manufacturing jobs producing goods used in renewable power generation, equipment dealers and wholesalers specializing in renewable energy or energy-efficiency products, construction and installation of energy and pollution management systems, government administration of environmental programs, and supporting jobs in the engineering, legal, research and consulting fields."

Interestingly, the mayors count jobs in existing nuclear power plants but not in new ones.

In contrast the United Nations Environment Programme's Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World excludes all nuclear jobs, but includes all jobs said to "contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality."

If we take politics into account we can explain these definitions. The Conference of Mayors is concerned with building a coalition for spending to benefit its members. Those mayors with nuclear power plants in their cities want to claim credit for greening their economy through nuclear plants (which also pay lots of local taxes). The U.N. report, on the other hand, was aimed at gaining support from an international environmental movement that detests nuclear power, which explains why it didn't count any nuclear jobs.

Neither applies any objective criteria to the problem of defining which industries will gain and which will lose. For example, both define as "green" any jobs related to nonfossil-fuel technology, even if these energy sources (such as wood) release as much carbon dioxide per BTU of energy generated as fossil-fuel sources-or more. (Wood is much less efficient in terms of carbon emissions than either natural gas or gasoline on a per-BTU basis.) Moreover, burning many renewable fuels produces considerable particulate pollution, both inside homes and outside-a serious problem particularly for women and children in developing countries.

Green-economy proponents also disagree about how green hydroelectric plants are. Many who advocate government spending on alternative energy also want to dismantle existing hydro projects to restore rivers and improve fish habitats. (And many of those dams were built with subsidies by the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers and would have flunked any serious cost-benefit analysis.) But small hydro, their preferred alternative, is by definition "small." As a result, it would take quite a few small hydro plants to produce sufficient energy to replace even a single large dam or coal-fired power plant. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence of a large-scale building boom in small hydro projects or even a serious effort to identify where such projects might be located.

Even more interestingly, both definitions are expansive enough to include "supporting jobs in the engineering, legal, research, and consulting fields." Indeed, the Conference of Mayors found that the top two U.S. jurisdictions for current green jobs are New York City and Washington, D.C., suggesting that the investment in green technology so far is producing a lot of consultants, lawyers, and lobbyists rather than engineers or factory workers. Another estimate found more secretaries, management analysts, bookkeepers, and janitors among "green jobs" than environmental scientists.

Defining terms is essential to a rational policy debate; without clarity we end up with a division between favored and disfavored technologies driven by interest groups rather than by either market forces or logical thinking. Unfortunately, so far the green-economy literature has mostly produced lists of "technologies we like" and "technologies we don't like" based on politics. We certainly shouldn't be spending billions of dollars promoting what we can't define.

Where Do Estimates Come From?

Even if we don't quite know what a green economy looks like, its advocates assure us there will be lots of jobs and other benefits from converting to it. Not surprisingly, most green-economy proposals predict huge benefits at low cost, making them politically appealing. Jobs will appear in economically depressed areas, and energy efficiency will soar, saving firms, consumers, and governments billions. Unfortunately these benefits are largely due to inappropriate economic forecasting methods. In particular, most estimates are produced via "input-output analysis," the same technique used to produce outlandish claims for the benefits of municipal stadium projects.

In an input-output analysis a vast matrix is calculated from economic data as they exist today, tracing connections between firms in different industries. For example, an automobile plant uses steel, aluminum, plastic, batteries, paint, tires, and other materials to produce cars with a particular amount of labor per car under current technology. If we thought that the plant would begin producing more cars, the input-output matrix could be used to calculate how much more steel, aluminum, and other inputs would be demanded by the car industry and how many more workers would be hired to work in it.

There is a role for such calculations in industry forecasts (predicting steel demand from auto production helps steel plants decide about investing in new capacity, for example). But using them to predict the impact of government programs to green the economy is problematic because the method rests on two assumptions that green proposals violate: constant prices and constant technology.

By definition, efforts to change energy technology are going to change technology and prices. The relationships in an input-output matrix based on using coal to generate electricity and gasoline to fuel cars simply aren't applicable to an economy where substantial amounts of energy come from high-cost sources like wind and solar and the cars are hybrids or run on ethanol.

Worse, the green-economy predictions rest on extremely optimistic estimates of the impact of spending on new technologies. Almost no advocates of these policies deduct the jobs lost from replacing existing technologies with the new, green ones. Refinery workers, coal miners, fossil-fuel power plant workers, and many others will all lose their jobs if the proposed shift to nonfossil fuels takes place. Some of those workers may find jobs insulating public buildings or bolting together windmills, but many will not. Because all that public spending to produce these new technologies comes from taxes (whether today or in the future), it reduces private spending and so eliminates the jobs that would have been created by the higher private spending displaced by the taxes.

Any estimates of major changes are likely to be imprecise even if all these factors are taken into account because of the considerable uncertainty surrounding these relationships. Ignoring all the downsides, as green-economy proponents do, suggests that they are less interested in accurate predictions than in creating political pressure for policies regardless of their impact.

Labor Productivity

Even if we set aside these technical issues, however, there are still some serious problems with green-economy plans. Perhaps most important, the literature mistakenly glorifies low-productivity jobs on grounds that more employment is better. For example, the UN Environment Programme criticizes modern agriculture because "labor is extruded from all points in the system," argues wind and solar are better technologies because producing each BTU of energy requires more labor than in fossil-fuel industries, and argues that the steel industry has evolved to use too little labor.

To see why this is a problem, let's consider ethanol. Although even many environmentalists now recognize ethanol's problems, it was the darling of alternative-energy proponents for many years, and hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies have produced a substantial corn-based ethanol industry in the United States. (Despite these subsidies, the fuel remains uncompetitive with gasoline at current gas prices.) Corn-based ethanol requires more labor to produce than gasoline does, largely because growing and processing corn is more labor-intensive than pumping and refining oil. As a result, green-economy advocates score ethanol higher than gasoline since each BTU of energy in ethanol takes more labor to make than a BTU of gasoline.

But lower labor productivity is a bad thing not a benefit. Not only does more labor mean higher costs, but higher-productivity jobs (generally those that involve working with greater amounts of capital) can pay higher wages precisely because they are more productive. Low-productivity jobs are low-paying jobs because employers cannot afford to pay their employees more than the employees generate. If more labor were the metric, we'd all be better off using quills and parchment in place of computers.


Military's new mission-bailing out GM (again)

 The Department of Defense has a new mission - to purchase and integrate 1,500 new Chevy Volts into its fleet.  Who gave this order to begin "Operation Inefficient"?   That's what ALG would like to find out.

Why exactly?  The military line is that this past summer, the Department of Defense's began purchasing Chevy Volts and other electric cars as part of an initiative to "green up" the military.  And the prettier version - they are just doing their part to reduce the country's dependence on foreign energy.  I'm not buying it!  Again I ask, why?!   Why, when our defense budget is in the targets of a fiscally irresponsible, do-nothing-Congress, are we wasting money on the most unimpressive inefficient vehicle on the market?!  Do you really think the military is taking its own initiative to spend money on the most unintimidating vehicle on the market?  Somewhere up the line an order was given.

According to Air Force spokeswoman Tonya Racasner, over the next few years it will add 1,500 "non-tactical" (thank goodness!) road-capable, plug-in electric vehicles.  To date, the military has purchased 168.

As the leading branch in overseeing this initiative, the Air Force is preparing for the arrival 41 new electric vehicles reporting to Los Angeles Air Force Base.  In addition, the Army alone plans to place green-cars at more than 40 of its installations.  The other military branches are also following suit, with purchases and adding more charging stations on and off military bases.

This Administration has championed the Chevy Volt as a symbol of the government bailout of General Motors.  It couldn't have picked a better candidate to represent itself!  The Chevy Volt has been a series of problems.

 *   It has a battery problem that has led spontaneous fires, something the Department of Defense itself has been involved in helping solve.

*   It could electrocute first responders to an accident, causing the Department of Energy to spend $4.4 million on a program to teach firefighters how to protect themselves when responding to a Volt accident.

*   GM has already had to suspend production twice this year alone (so far.).

Despite having spent over $1.2 billion on developing this car, GM still hasn't got it right - and is reportedly losing $50,000 per vehicle.  And all that with the government's help!   The Obama Administration has made this company and the Chevy Volt its poster child of the big government auto bailout.  It has hailing the Volt as the "car of the future".  It has tried to create incentive with green-pushing tax-breaks.  President Obama has even given a personal pledge to drive one himself after a second term.   Despite all this "help", GM is finding little consumer demand for the Volt.  While Chevy may boast record high sales for August 2012, moving 2,500 cars, the experts attribute some of this to "the best incentives it's ever had on the model to move cars" - a $169 monthly lease, down from $269 a month.   And they're surprised GM didn't sell more.

So this begs the question, why is the Defense Department, whose budget always seems to be in Congress' sights, spending valuable taxpayers' money on this poorly built machine?  Is this Administration orchestrating another pseudo bailout for GM.  Or is this Administration simply trying to protect itself and its bad investment - a self-bailout?

Americans for Limited Government has filed a FOIA with the Secretary of Defense's office to see who has authorized these purchases and any government discussions behind them, including communications with the White House.

After the Chevy Volt has posted a very poor track record, why is the federal government continuing to spend money on a project going up in smoke?


Wind turbine noise being studied to death?

This is in response to the September 1, 2012 article published by regarding the Fairhaven industrial wind turbines (IWT). It is apparent that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is way past due for making their decision about the Falmouth IWT noise levels. The DEP has witnessed the nighttime operation of Wind 1 and has sufficient noise level measurements to determine that Wind 1 is out of compliance. Under state law, wind turbines cannot increase the quietest nighttime dBA noise levels (L90) by more than 10 dB when compared to the maximum (Lmax) produced.

Ariel Wittenberg, reporter for southcoasttoday, witnessed nighttime noise measurements for the Fairhaven Wind Turbine project. Noise levels were measured by the DEP's Laurel Carlson accompanied by Sumul Shah, Project Developer. Carlson wrote down a long series of noise levels measured in 5-second increments; 47.8, 46.6, 47.7 and so on. This measurement methodology dates back to the 1970s, when sound levels were manually taken by viewing an analog meter needle movement. Statistical measurements require at least 100 readings with IWT ON and then OFF. Each hand-written measurement includes an identifier relating to the noise source heard. The 10th lowest value would represent the L90 or residual background; the noise level exceeded 90% of the time when turbines are OFF. The Lmax would be the highest value measured when the turbines are ON. A drawback for DEP methodology is that most of the noise levels are excluded by reading only once every five seconds.

The DEP is correct to require an observer to listen and note every noise source so that non-IWT noise can be excluded. Sound meters are poor listeners, unable to identify a noise source, whereas the human has excellent identification capability. However, meters can compute statistical sound levels and record time histories for dBA, dBC, dBL and fractional octave bands. Instrument data is downloaded to computer spreadsheet programs for post analysis.

Compliance can easily be determined using a time-history graph showing the IWT operating, and then shutdown, leaving only ambient background sound. Measuring this ON to OFF transition directly shows the difference between IWT-ON sound levels to background-only sound levels.

Falmouth's Wind 1 was measured ON and OFF by the DEP during the night of March 7, 2012. At the same time and locations, independent sound level measurements were made with a calibrated Type 1 precision sound level meter and the results are shown below.

This graph includes sufficient information for the DEP to show that Falmouth Wind 1 does not meet state law; IWT-ON Lmax of 46 dBA in red and IWT-OFF L90 of 27 dBA background in green. The difference is 19 dB; 9 dB louder than the maximum allowed under state law. There is no doubt that this increase would provoke a very vocal negative reaction by neighbors.

It should be noted that similar IWT-ON noise levels were recorded in Fairhaven (47.8, 46.6, 47.7) at similar hub-height wind speeds of 6.5 m/s (14.5 mph). These same noise levels have been measured at other wind turbine sites at similar distances in Maine and Massachusetts.

Neighbors at Falmouth and Fairhaven have voiced their concerns about excessive audible noise and exposure to the adverse public health effects from infrasound and low frequency noise. The Falmouth Board of Health (FBOH) has acknowledged that there needs to an action to protect the public health, having received dozens of valid health complaints and testimonies. On June 11, 2012 the FBOH submitted results of their epidemiological study taken in the vicinity of the three Falmouth IWTs to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (BPH) requesting immediate assistance. The FBOH wrote, "Due to the increasing intensity of the reported health impacts, the Board is considering emergency actions" and concludes with "We look to your Department, as that which holds the highest duty to protect health of citizens of the Commonwealth, to assist us in this matter." After three months, there has still been no public response from the DPH.

Neighbors are very concerned about the DEP and DPH studying IWT noise to death. They already have all the evidence they need. Now the Massachusetts DEP and DPH need to act to protect the public health, or just declare: IWT neighbors live in Public Health Sacrifice Zones.


Even War and Rumors of War Can't Save Chevy Volt

A new Congressional Budget Office report tells Obama what the rest of us have known for some time: Your bet on electric cars wasn’t an investment, but a gamble; a dumb gamble.  And now you’ve just come up snake eyes.

“Despite the federal government pumping $7.5 billion into the electric vehicle industry in the United States through 2019,” writes the, “overall national gasoline consumption is unlikely to be significantly affected, according to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”

The CBO says that even if Obama increased the amount of the subsidy, it would make little difference to the gasoline usage or emissions output because automakers would still be required to hit fuel efficiency targets. Instead, the CBO says that either a tax on gasoline or carbon is the only way to increase the attractiveness of electric cars to consumers.

Duh.  That’s because electric cars don’t save gas, they don’t save money and they don’t save the “planet.”  They are only a vanity-plumping, amenity purchase for the metro-testicled.

“Assuming that everything else is equal” says the CBO, “the larger an electric vehicle’s battery capacity, the greater its cost disadvantage relative to conventional vehicles—and thus the larger the tax credit needed to make it cost-competitive.”

It’s not like none of us pointed this out at the time Obama unveiled his plan to put a million electric vehicles on the road before he destabilized the Middle East.

Ok, so he didn’t tell us that last part.  Dr. Strange-Chu told us about that one.  “Somehow,” Strange-Chu said, “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

Hey? How about a regional civil war? We could lob a few missiles at Libya?

But even with Middle East and North African disorders keeping oil prices high, electric vehicles are still not cost competitive- nor does the consumer seem to want them at any cost.      

General Motors essentially confirmed Obama’s bad bet when they admitted over the weekend that the recent rash of “viral” Chevy Volt sales have been stoked by discounts of as much as $10,000 off the MSRP of $40,000.

Two weeks ago industry insiders revealed that General Motors was taking a loss of around $50,000 per Chevy Volt sold. That was assuming a sales price without the new and improved $10k discount. If you add in the $7,500 government subsidy, the Volt’s cost to the consumer is around $22,500.

Cost to the taxpayers is much, much higher.

Before the discount, the Volt cost General Motors- a joint venture between Obama, Inc., and the United Auto Workers that was subsidized by your tax dollars- around $650 million just this year according to estimates by industry insiders. In August alone the discount bumped up the price to GM by another $28 million.

So far this year the company has sold around 13,000 Volts, compared to the 60,000 unit goal that they set at the beginning of the year.

"Let's face it, over $40,000 is asking a lot for a compact car," says Bob Lutz, who helped develop the Volt- and was present when GM was hurling toward bankruptcy.

"Its prime purpose was to introduce a new generation of technology," says the now-retired Lutz, according to CBSNews. "And at the same time ... demonstrate to the world that GM is way more technologically capable than the people give it credit for."

Show- offs.

I never knew technology was capable of losing this much money so quickly.  I’m impressed.  And now so is the Congressional Budget Office.


Manufactured Fear Drives Needless Regulations

As sure as the sun rises in the morning, Americans can count on their televisions and newspapers to brim with daily reports of all the dangerous products lurking in their homes. Women in particular are told commonplace items like shampoo, deodorant, plastic food containers, household disinfectants, children’s toys, baby bottles, and garden hoses threaten them and their families. Even living room furniture is now cast as a household killer.

Silicone is the latest item to come under scrutiny. Discovered in the mid-19th century by a Swedish chemist, nowadays the term silicone is most often associated with breast augmentation, but its uses go far beyond giving women the perfect d├ęcolletage. In fact, silicone is used in everything from car engines to cosmetics, prosthetic limbs and medical equipment. In other words, silicone has made life easier for modern man, so naturally the hyper-regulatory Environmental Protection Agency is on alert.

In 2011, the EPA announced it was interested in collecting environmental monitoring data for two materials in silicone—D4 and D5— to assess the chemicals’ potential impact on the environment. The EPA notified the silicone industry that it wanted to establish an environmental monitoring program at silicone manufacturing, processing and formulating facilities and select municipal waste water treatment plants that treat the chemical.

The silicone industry was quick to accommodate EPA’s request, voluntarily agreeing to monitor five municipal wastewater treatment sites. The sites would be selected in a way that allowed an assessment of the worst case scenario in terms of the potential harm that might be caused by the release of the chemicals to the environment.

The EPA wasn’t satisfied with industry’s plan, suggesting instead that the industry monitor a whopping 42 sites. Of course, the EPA never justified why so many sites needed monitoring for this risk assessment process, or what benefit would accrue from duplicative data from sites using the same treatment techniques.

But then high-powered regulatory agencies don’t really need to explain their motives or logic, do they? And they probably don’t care that this additional monitoring will come at a high price—to the tune of $50 million in redundant data collection.

While the EPA and the silicone industry hashed out the details of this monitoringarrangement, Canada began its own monitoring program. In 2012, the Canadiangovernment (well-known to be environmental sympathizers and heavy-handed regulators of the chemical industry) completed an assessment of the safety of silicone that was conducted by a panel of independent scientific experts. The scientists found that D5 does not pose a risk to the environment or to humans. On D4, the Canadian government only required pollution prevention plans—a pretty standard requirement for the chemical industry.

Reassuring, right? Not to the EPA. Despite being provided the results from the Canadian study, the EPA remained undeterred though they ultimately revised their proposal to include 16 sites. That may be less onerous, but still creates a needless burden for industry and the EPA again offers no justification for why 16 sites are needed. It’s almost like EPA just pulls these numbers out of thin air.

Such stubbornness betrays the EPA’s real intentions—to regulate certain industries, chemicals, and products that environmentalists and public health officials (their real constituency) view as hazardous despite their being no evidence of real danger. This is part of a larger trend, building a culture of alarmism in America. The tactic is simple: based on the idiom “better safe than sorry,” ubiquitous pseudo-scientific activist organizations promote the idea that a chemical poses a “potential risk.” They say there is a “chance of danger,” or that a “correlation” between a certain product and a dreadful disease exists.

This clever rhetorical trick is designed to plant the seeds of fear without the nuisance of producing proof. It’s understandable what happens next; people are simply more willing to accept regulations once they believe they and their children are at risk.

American women should be aware that these overzealous government agencies have little regard and no responsibility for economic growth in this country. The money used to satisfy the EPA would be better directed to job creation, the construction of new and better manufacturing sites, or research into products that would truly make life easier and safer for women and their families.

Instead, industry will waste time and money collecting data to satisfy a Washington bureaucrat who can’t speak Canadian.

This is the real reason for concern.




The graphics problem:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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