Many schools are being tested for lead in their water. But what about the libraries, hospitals, offices and old apartment buildings? As I observe the new president and his EPA designee, I worry about the adverse effect deregulating environmental protection would have on our families. There is more work to do if we are to truly understand the impact of human technology on the environment and public health.
environmental regulation Archives - Page 2 of 3 - State of the Planet
With the phrase “climate change” disappearing from U.S. federal government websites and increased talk of regulatory overreach, it is obvious that protecting the environment will continue to be a fault line in American political ideology. However, though ideology will shape the nature and speed of response, the environmental problem is real and cannot be ignored.
Princess, a division of Carnival Cruise line, the largest passenger cruise company in the world, has pleaded guilty to seven felony charges and will pay $40 million after employees on a cruise ship were caught dumping oiled waste into the seas and lying to cover up their actions. This as an issue of management that is not limited to Princess or Carnival, but to whole areas of business practice that continue to ignore their responsibility to apply best management practices and the best available technology to operations such as waste disposal.
The market and government regulators are sending a message that is clear and ought not be misunderstood: people care about the environment and the quality of their air. If people did not support air pollution regulations they would not have cared about Volkswagen’s disregard of environmental law.
The reason we have federal water quality standards is to ensure that local economic issues, politics, racism or other factors do not control decisions about water supply. But in Flint, decisions on water supply were not subject to effective federal review.
The politics of climate change remains contentious, with Democrats more concerned about the issue than Republicans. What is most interesting about the polling data is that young people are far more concerned about climate change than older people.
The federal government sets the drinking water standards in America, even though monitoring and administration is delegated to the states. The federal EPA had the authority and responsibility to intervene. The failure in Flint belongs to all of us and it should lead to some hard thinking about the causes of this completely avoidable environmental disaster.
It is clear that the hunger for economic growth and wealth pushes business and governments to ignore environmental impacts that are considered an inevitable byproduct of development. But this fails to account for the costs that will inevitably be borne when the damage must be cleaned up.
The political consensus for sustainability that could emerge might be based on increased funding for the science of renewable energy, battery technology, energy efficiency and smart grids. It could also include incentives for private sector investment to commercialize new energy technologies, and tax expenditures that make it easier for consumers to adopt these new technologies.
The fact that we are addicted to energy and still require fossil fuels should not be taken to mean that we couldn’t get off of fossil fuels while increasing energy efficiency. We can and we will. But no one is going to give up the current energy system until a cleaner one comes along that can match the cost and convenience of the energy we use today.