Are New Environmental Laws and Regulations Worth the Gamble?

by Marita Noon on July 25, 2011

in Blog

The local utility company had just released their report outlining how they’d met the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), passed by the legislators back in 2007. I posted the following on my Facebook page: “New Mexico Utility Company report outlining future energy plans = more expensive electricity facing all states with RPS.” A long series of posts followed including this one from Steve: “The sky is WAY too clean! Let’s get some Los Angeles-style haze going on. And our water? Way too clean… let’s dump battery acid in it! There’s not enough lung cancer in NM to support our private cancer clinics—let’s get some air pollution in this mother! If you want to live where you can see the sun and breathe the air, sorry, it might have to cost a little more.”

Next, Todd posted: “Are you arguing that the current environment is so bad that we have the cancer, the haze, the battery acid? Are you saying that people who violate the law will not be prosecuted? It seems so. I would also suggest that you have a burden of proof here. You would need to prove that the system is broken before requiring new laws.” Steve didn’t post again.

I spent 20 years living in and around Los Angeles in the 1970s and 80s and still have family there. Decades ago, the air was nasty. There were days when the mountains surrounding the area completely disappeared. But that has been cleaned up, and the “Los Angeles-style haze” is no more. Cities throughout America look nothing like they did in the 70s. In New Mexico, where this argument originated, the skies are crystal clear—except, perhaps, when nature blows the desert’s dust around. And this is before the RPS plan is implemented. There are laws. Violators are prosecuted. How much more will we gain with these expensive and unproven new technologies?

Like my Facebook “friend,” Nissan seems to think we are still living in a “dirty” past. Their ad for the new “100% electric Leaf” shows everyday items that run on electricity—a computer, a hair dryer, a dental drill—as running on a gasoline-powered motor. These modern conveniences are spewing out foul smoke and, the computer specifically, has dirty carbon build up around the key and the gas pedal. However, today’s gasoline-powered vehicles are clean. They do not have the yuckiness the ad implies.

Additionally, the implication is that electricity comes from the wall. In fact, it most frequently comes from coal or natural gas—both carbon-based fuels. The electric Leaf or Volt really runs on carbon, but the tailpipe is at the power plant. But even that is not as the renewable proponents want you to believe. Like the modern car, today’s power plants have cleaned up—there are scrubbers and pollution control systems and what you see coming out of the stack is now mainly water vapor or steam.

Earlier this week, a worker from Baltimore Gas & Electric showed up at a friend’s business and announced he was there to do a “light bulb audit.” He would evaluate the number of light bulbs and BG&E would pay 80% of the cost to replace them with made-in-China CFL’s. The business owner asked where BG&E was getting the money to reimburse the costs. Reluctantly the worker admitted, “From the ratepayers. But, if you replace them next year, after the incandescent bulb is banned, you’ll have to pay 100%.”

Our elected officials can regulate where people get their energy and make electric bills higher. They can mandate more expensive cars that require taxpayer-funded incentives to encourage people to buy them. They can make laws that take away choice in light bulbs requiring more expensive and less effective ones. But why? What will we gain? Is “the current environment so bad?”


Addressing England’s efforts to meet Europe’s renewable standards, The Economist states: “Offshore wind, many gigawatts of which the government wants to subsidise, is one of the costliest ways known to man of getting carbon out of the energy system. … Trying to get there by a pell-mell fielding of the costliest renewables is pointless.”

The same issue of The Economist, calls Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s, newly proposed carbon tax “An expensive gamble” saying that she is staking her future on it. “Ms Gillard faces the task of rescuing her government by selling her bold carbon plan to a skeptical public.” The article reports, “When the Lowy Institute, a think-tank, asked Australians to nominate their country’s most important foreign-policy goals in 2007, … ‘tackling climate change’ topped the list. In the same poll this year, that goal dropped to tenth place; first now was ‘protecting the jobs of Australian workers.’ For a country with an envious unemployment rate of 4.9%, it seemed an odd change in priorities. But it reflected, perhaps, the shifting dynamics of climate politics.”

With the air and water clean, and economic worries topping the polls, why, indeed, do we need new laws and regulations that make everything more expensive and sacrifice jobs to fix a system that isn’t broken? It is an “expensive gamble” that American lawmakers shouldn’t be taking.

Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

Justinian August 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

In response to the comment that the system isn’t broken:
“Before gas flaring started here, I remember very well that our environment was in its natural state. At that time, the leaves were green, the air was clean, rain water was free of pollutants and it was also safe to drink”

the quest for oil is killing people. real human people. do you care about renewable now? no? I didn’t think so….sad times.

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