Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fewer clean-air violations found in states that spent more

From the Houston Chronicle:

Researcher Victor Flatt, a University of North Carolina professor of environmental law, said that while the findings may seem obvious, some states prefer to give industries more leeway to police themselves rather than spend more on regulatory efforts. This so-called cooperative approach became popular in the 1980s, as some states looked to save money.

The researchers don’t rule out that lower-cost, business-friendly carrots can work in some cases, or in tandem with regulatory sticks. But states can’t protect the environment on the cheap, they found.


Of the 17 states in the study, Texas ranked ahead of only Connecticut in per capita spending on environmental programs in 2003, the most recent data used.

More here.

That last little bit, if it wasn't entirely clear to you, means that out of the fifty states, Texas ranked forty ninth in enforcement spending, which is no surprise at all. Well, maybe a bit of a surprise: how is it that Texas got beat out for last by a Yankee state? We may never know.

But this story about enforcement spending delicately tip-toes around a fact almost never mentioned in corporate news sources such as the Chronicle. Private industry can only be trusted to maximize profit. That's the same thing as saying that private industry cannot ever be trusted to do the right thing. Unless there's some profit in it. Of course, there's no profit in ensuring that people aren't poisoned by toxic emissions, so why would they bother?

No, private industry must be forced to do the right thing. And such enforcement must be real, with actual results, not the bullshit window dressing "voluntary" compliance they've had in Texas since Bush was governor in the 90s. It's amusing that the "cooperative approach" is attributed in the excerpt above to states' desire to save money. I mean, lowering government costs may very well have played a role here, but show me a state with a Republican legislature and I'll show you a state falling over itself to allow industry to pollute more--that is, deregulation-as-philosophy is no doubt a much bigger drive for the "cooperative approach" than a desire to save money, despite the fact that such anti-pollution regulations save tens of thousands of lives a year.

You know, this isn't rocket science: if you don't watch the fox, he'll eat the fucking hens.

Or, if you prefer, if you don't watch the rooster, he'll fuck the hens. Either way.