Loosening clean air rules...
November 22, 2002 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Loosening clean air rules... This from the guy hailing from the smoggiest state around. Is this really who should be making such a decision? Things don't look so good now, so why loosen the rules? Do we want one of these?
posted by Espoo2 (22 comments total)
I know this has been said elsewhere (though maybe not on MeFi), but doesn't it seem like Eliot Spitzer is the only guy getting anything good done these days? In the last year he's been instrumental in exposing Arthur Andersen, cracked down on corruption on trading firms and, now, hinted at action over the easing of CAA rules.
posted by risenc at 1:52 PM on November 22, 2002

You want to talk about pollution, how about a nuclear bomb going off in New York harbor. That's the kind of pollution we need to fight against-- quit wasting our time with these tangential issues.
posted by cell divide at 1:58 PM on November 22, 2002

Good dodge, cell divide.
Wars and rumours of war are always effective distractions.
Quite wasting our time with myopic bullshit.
posted by 2sheets at 2:03 PM on November 22, 2002

The issue of the so-called "new source review" isn't cut-and-dried. I'm no expert on this subject, but I remember reading about it last year in The New Republic. In particular it isn't clear to me which of the two proposals mentioned here was ultimately advanced. But Easterbrook's other point -- that pro-environment forces in the Bush administration get little encouragement from environmental groups in the Democratic camp -- had some resonance.
posted by coelecanth at 2:04 PM on November 22, 2002

"The EPA plans to grant power plants, factories and refineries an annual "allowance" for maintenance. Only when expenditures rise above that allowance would an owner or operator have to install new pollution control equipment. Replacement of existing equipment would be considered maintenance."

posted by Espoo2 at 2:11 PM on November 22, 2002

I wonder what John Poindexter has to say about this.
posted by four panels at 2:46 PM on November 22, 2002

its the SUV driving suburban hordes - who voted these people in.... the ones who now think they have a mandate to thrash all existing environmental laws - rewritten by cheneys secret cronies. - all under the guise of war with iraq and "terrrorists".

someone has been reading this guys tactics:

"Why, of course the people don't want war ... but, after all, it is the
leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a
simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship ... voice or
no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked,
denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country
to danger."

-hermann goering
posted by specialk420 at 2:48 PM on November 22, 2002

coelecanth: good link.

specialtalk420: My god, if I see that goering quote again my head is going to explode.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:57 PM on November 22, 2002

clean air is a "leftie" concept

if you're concerned about corporations ruining the environment, you're guilty of un-American activities

ps I call Godwin on the goering quote, on general principle
posted by matteo at 3:31 PM on November 22, 2002

Pollution sure does make pretty sunsets.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:48 PM on November 22, 2002

Meanwhile, in South America:

"Two Texas energy companies, both closely tied to the Bush White House, are lining up administration support for nearly $900 million in public financing for a Peruvian natural gas project that will cut through one of the world's most pristine tropical rain forests."
posted by homunculus at 4:30 PM on November 22, 2002

I wonder, do Republicans go to National Parks? Do they go on hikes or look at wildlife or visit the beautiful places on the earth? I don't think so because if they did, they would worry about cutting through pristine rainforests, killing animlas, making animals extint, having snowmobiles in National Parks, huge smog clouds, acid rain, oil shortages, and global warming. I just don't understand the logic.

Why do they hate environmental rules so much? Don't they care that there be animals and parks and water for their children and grandchildren? Don't they care that the US will turn more into a desert if global warming keeps on going? Don't they care that we will eventually run out of oil? What is so awful about fuel efficient cars, the sanctity of National Parks, the Endangered Species Act, Environmental Impact Reports, government imposed regulations on pollution and superfund sites? I just don't understand it. Do they think that "it won't happen to them?" The anti-environment people really make me shake my head in wonder. How can they be so short-sighted and just plain ignorant?
posted by aacheson at 5:00 PM on November 22, 2002

Jesus, I should have spell-checked (but it doesn't work on my computer!)
posted by aacheson at 5:00 PM on November 22, 2002

Meanwhile, in the UK...
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on November 22, 2002

I will agree that the Republicans do tend to go after environmental protection policies as if they were developed by the anti-christ, but occassionally they do have a point.

I wish I could remember the link that properly described this, but remember the whole uproar over Bush raising the allowable limits of arsenic in the water supply? If memory serves me correct, the desire was to raise the limits by an almost non-detectable amount. Studies had demonstrated that the cost/benefit of keeping arsenic levels at current standards simply was not there. I don't recall the figures, but I remember reading that the health risks of raising the level were nil, yet the monetary savings were impressive.

My point here is that both sides tend to jump over the other to 'brand' them as 'environmentalist whackos' or 'animal killers'. There are certain environmental policies that are truly way over the top, and there are others that are common sense.

As far as I'm concerned, anything done to reduce pollutants and toxins is a "good" thing, but it must be done in a balanced way so we don't bankrupt everyone into compliance with these rules.

It's like Bush's new policy on logging: I don't mind logging as long as there is a requirement for the logged land to be re-seeded and properly cared for to avoid runoff and degredation. Likewise, the potential destruction to the arctic reserves in Alaksa do not make for a good trade-off for the relatively small amount of oil we gain from it.

Wouldn't it make more sense to simply spend a little bit more on alternative energy?
posted by tgrundke at 5:47 PM on November 22, 2002

I am looking forward to buying my nacho cheese flavored air in convenient 30 minute canisters.

I think tgrundke makes some good points. I'm not for throwing out laws that keep our environment healthy, but sometimes laws (environmental as well as others) are a bit overzealous. I urge keeping an eye on the Bush admin cronies, but also looking for opportunities where excessive regulations can be eased.
posted by infowar at 6:12 PM on November 22, 2002

Good link, Coelecanth.

I'm all for being a good steward of the earth but I can't friggin' stand the hysterical caterwauling that is routinely heard from the environmental movement these days. They refuse to point out the advances and the improvements that are being made to the state of the earth. The current 'new source' review laws allowed the midwestern power plants to continue to pump out pollution because there are no incentives to clean them up. Don't get me wrong, we need strong environmental laws but common sense must be a key factor when implementing them.
posted by beatnik808 at 7:56 PM on November 22, 2002

Well said, aacheson (about Republicans, not about your spelling). I often wonder how people can care so little about impoverishing the planet that we will be leaving to older selves, let alone our children and our grandchildren. Most people learn not to soil their own beds -- it's easy enough to walk to the bathroom and leaves you much more comfortable in the morning. But some people haven't learned to apply that lesson to other aspects of their lives.
posted by alms at 8:34 PM on November 22, 2002

EPA's New Source Review rule change page; and a reasonably fair review of the key provisions. This really only became effective this month; the decisions, barring a period of public comment, took place last summer. {And now the EPA's site is down. That's enough for now.} From what I can tell, referencing the TNR article, the rules seem closer to Whitman's vision than Cheney's -- to wit, the VP would have eliminated certain requirements entirely for older powerplants, but Whitman includes a graduated system that creates a graduated incentive system, which ideally offsets the reverse incentives widely considered to be a feature of the pre-existing ruleset.
posted by dhartung at 9:04 PM on November 22, 2002

On Arsenic in drinking water from the US National Academy of Sciences

"...it is the subcommittee's consensus that the current EPA MCL for arsenic in drinking water of 50 µg/L does not achieve EPA's goal for public-health protection and, therefore, requires downward revision as promptly as possible."

Basically they found that arsenic levels as low as 5.0 ug/L cause cancer. Keep in mind that EPA was pushing for a new maximum allowable level of just 10 ug/L.

Careful what you drink... arsenic can not be removed by household filters or commercial bottled water filtration.
posted by humbe at 11:13 PM on November 22, 2002

I hear arguments all the time to the effect of "we need to mitigate the opinions of rabid environmentalists with a bit of common sense." But what, exactly, qualifies as "common sense" when you have a 2-mile thick cloud stretching across the entire Indian subcontinent? Is it "common sense" that the words "inversion layer" can now bring fear into the hearts of the public?

Yes, we're making great strides in less-polluting methods of generating energy. Yes, the world in general is becoming more aware of pollution's hazards. However, the difficulty here (and, hence, the caterwauling) is that it may be too little, too late.

"Common sense" seems to be interpreted as "cost." To put in new, cleaner technologies costs money - money that could be enriching the hands of a few select individuals. And it's always cheaper to bribe a politician or influence a scientific journal than it is to convert the entire country's fuel system to hydrogen, filter arsenic (natural or otherwise) from drinking water, or put up wind farms.

So, "common sense" has the Bush administration loosening restrictions and going to court to prevent more efficient transportation. "Common sense" has us still burning coal (yeah, coal) to generate power, and giving our poor coal-burning friends subsidies and easements to keep them going, because it's sooo expensive to put up a new plant, even though the old plant has been generating a profit for the last 50 or so years. "Common sense" says that, after all, since the well-off can sequester themselves on palatial plots of land and drink pure water, what's the problem? If the air gets too bad, they retreat to air-conditioned airtight houses while the rest of the world coughs up blood trying to keep up with the Joneses.

I'm not a rabid environmentalist, but thanks to the Bush administration, I'm getting there...
posted by FormlessOne at 9:04 AM on November 23, 2002

I'm not a rabid environmentalist, but thanks to the Bush administration, I'm getting there...

You know, if Ralph Nader's on MeFi and reads this, he's going to cream his pants.

And run again in 2004, thank you very much
posted by matteo at 3:52 PM on November 24, 2002

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