Posts Tagged ‘trespass

27
Oct
08

Lead Pollution Rules Spiked, Or Why Government Doesn’t Work

What Scares The Bush Administration Sh*tless

Scares The Bush Administration Shitless

The United States Environmental Protection agency’s proposal to tighten permissible lead pollution standards tenfold while also increasing the number of targeted lead air monitoring stations was slapped down by the Bush administration on Thursday. The executive-branch agency, created under Richard Nixon, is charged with guarding and improving the quality of the air that Americans breathe, but here we have pretty stark evidence that this isn’t its real mission.

The new rules were proposed, as they all are, by career bureaucrats within the agency, who probably saw a politically weakened Bush presidency in its final months as an opportunity to push through some in their minds overdue regulation. And it’s true that primary and secondary lead smelting has been getting away with murder, in some cases quite literally, when it comes to their trespassing on the properties of others with their pollution, including their bodies.

But look at how it works;

EPA documents show that until the afternoon of Oct. 15, a court-imposed deadline for issuing the revised standard, the EPA proposed to require a monitor for any facility that emitted half a ton of lead or more a year.

The e-mails indicate that the White House objected, and in the early evening of Oct. 15 the EPA set the level at 1 ton a year instead.

According to EPA documents, 346 sites have emissions of half a ton a year or more. Raising the threshold to a ton reduced the number of monitored sites by 211, or more than 60 percent.

In layman’s terms, under pressure from the lead industry, the Bush White House rejected the EPA suggestion for more site-specific monitoring of the amount of lead pollution spewed by lead smelters, recyclers, battery manufacturers, and steel mills.  In essence, the president rejected any reduction of lead pollution trespass at all, simply by preventing monitoring from being done where it would do the most good.

This particular strategy has a new twist, in that while the tighter pollution trespass standard would fall under the standard regulatory procedure, i.e., tighten a regulation so that small businesses are disadvantaged relative to bigger ones, the new monitoring provisions would have more closely targeted both large and small pollution trespassers, resulting in more monitoring stations being placed at their gates and fence lines, rather than in urban centers at some distance from the plants themselves.

But this shows the government’s hand – they have absolutely no interest in preventing pollution trespass at all. They simply wish to preserve their power to manipulate commercial activity for their own benefit, and that of their favored interests. And it’s a peculiarly bipartisan sort of  manipulation. How, for example, will the agency deal with the likely vast increases in lead smelting and recycling that Federal hybrid car mandates will occasion, for example?

The answer is to reconstitute pollution torts as property-rights violations. Once we stop “permitting” polluters to trespass on our bodies and properties and start prosecuting them, there will be no need for these pointless ‘gotcha’ games within the federal government.