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As Trzupek drily notes, “Toxicity is a matter of dose, as sober scientists have observed since ancient times.” But the combination of green fever and the impossible pursuit to cut pollution levels to zero have led regulators to try to make emissions from factories cleaner than what occurs in nature itself.
On the other hand, I’m not sure I want the EPA to recognize Trzupek’s truth that the pollutants put out by tailpipes dwarf what is put out by any large industrial sources. I like my car’s internal combustion engine. But as important as this is to recognize, it also falls into the usual arguments over environmental regulation and how much is too much. Trzupek’s less usual arguments are far more damning and demonstrate the unintended consequences of overzealous regulations.
Trzupek tells several stories of business owners hit with huge fines although, even by the EPA’s standards, they are hurting no one and following good cleanup procedures. In one case, a company did not notice in the mountain of paperwork it received from the EPA (resulting in the deaths of Lord knows how many trees) that a particular reporting procedure had changed. Although the firm was in complete compliance with its emissions, it missed a paperwork deadline and was smacked with crushing fines.
In another case, the EPA regulations were so stringent and inflexible that the agency insisted on practices that actually created more pollution than the method the business owner would have employed.
But Trzupek’s most ironic point — in a book filled with them — is the fact that by declaring war on American industry, the EPA has driven factories overseas, where they are allowed to pollute far more freely and thus contribute even more to “climate change.” If nothing else, consistency should demand that the EPA do what it can to keep industry here, not to mention the fact that we need private sector economic growth to pay for all these public employees and bureaucrats.
And according to Trzupek, under President Obama, Lisa Jackson’s EPA has undertaken its mission with a zeal that makes previous administrations pale by comparison.
Among his recommendations, Trzupek proposes that a public health standard be established that aims to eliminate truly dangerous doses of toxins, not attempt to scrub the detectable presence of poisons from the environment. His boldest idea is to break up the EPA into state agencies that would be more flexible, accountable and — fingers crossed — sensible.
Regulators Gone Wild is a succinct and compelling read. Trzupek may be a scientist, but he writes with a storyteller’s eye and the wit of a good polemicist. This book is a great antidote to the “what’s the harm?” fallacy.
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