Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, June 18, 2011 5:10 pm

Mercury retrograde

Filed under: Evil — Lex @ 5:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

It is common for political conservatives to complain that regulations in general, and environmental regulations in particular, are a drag on the economy. And it is common for the national news media to accept this complaint as a given, particularly when, as now, it’s a Democratic president who is trying to do his legal duty by enforcing regulation of such environmental toxins as mercury.

But is it true? Surprise! It isn’t. At least, environmental regulations either proposed or finalized by the Obama administration aren’t. Says who? Says the Economic Policy Institute, which analyzed them in detail and came to two important conclusions:

  • The total effect of such regulations on the economy in general and on employment in particular, one way or the other, is minuscule. “Fears that these rules together will deter economic progress,” study author Isaac Shapiro writes, “are unjustified.”
  • To the extent that that effect can be reliably calculated or at least estimated, the costs of such regulation are far outweighed by the benefits:

Expressed in 2010 dollars:

• The combined annual benefits from all final rules exceed their costs by $32 billion to $142 billion a year. The benefit/cost ratio ranges from 4-to-1 to 22-to-1.
• The combined annual benefits from four proposed rules examined here exceed their costs by $160 billion to $440 billion a year. The benefit/cost ratio ranges from 12-to-1 to 32-to-1.

Industry also likes to argue that any kind of regulation creates “uncertainty” and that that uncertainty hampers job creation. But as David Roberts at Grist points out:

… the rules EPA is rolling out now have been brewing for over a decade. Industry has known mercury and other toxics are going to be regulated for a looong time — Bush spent a decade [well, eight years — Lex] trying (and failing) to do it.

What’s causing the unpredictability is the scorched-earth warfare polluting industries have waged on the rules. That’s what causes the endless court cases, delays, and legislative skirmishes. Based on their behavior, if not their words, it appears polluters prefer uncertainty to, y’know, rules.

This is not, of course, what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Wall Street Journal editorial page or Fox News will tell you. But what they’re telling you actually means this: They expect you to pay both the financial price and the price of your health to protect their profits, while not doing anything meaningful to create new jobs. Even Adam Smith thought that approach was toxic.


  1. Yeah, well just ask the litle people of Coshocton

    Face it The EPA is out of control They have now even taken away our DE-CON.

    Send Lisa Jackson to Spain for the next 18 months ( where she can do no harm ) to see how the green jobs thing is working out there.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, June 18, 2011 6:04 pm @ 6:04 pm

  2. Fred, these anecdotes do not at all undermine the study’s findings.
    The study didn’t say there would be NO job losses or costs. It said there would be costs, but that the benefits would outweigh those costs by a huge amount.

    Anecdote != data.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, June 18, 2011 7:07 pm @ 7:07 pm

  3. Can’t argue with that fallacy !

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, June 18, 2011 7:18 pm @ 7:18 pm

  4. Why does the EPA want to destroy jobs?

    “That Texas economic success story you’ve been hearing so much about in the news lately? The EPA’s actions here threaten it very directly, by increasing electricity costs while throwing thousands of Texans out of work. If the EPA wants Texas’ unemployment rate to climb up to the higher national average, this ruling may help that along.

    White House chief of staff Bill Daley found himself confronted by angry manufacturers this past week, who were upset at the way the Obama administration keeps “throwing sand in the gears” of US industry. At one point, Daley is said to have thrown up his hands in exasperation and said:

    ‘Sometimes you can’t defend the indefensible.’

    Indeed. And thus far, this administration’s record on putting bureaucracy and ideology in the way of economic activity and recovery is truly indefensible.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Monday, June 20, 2011 2:15 am @ 2:15 am

  5. Fewer Laws Lead To Better Beer

    Surely you won’t argue about this.

    I recall when in Japan ( 1954 ), I wore out
    Kirin ; also Nippon and Asahi

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, June 21, 2011 4:38 pm @ 4:38 pm

  6. Dear God, Fred!

    Somebody in that article actually suggested that there should be more government jobs programs to get people back to work! Did you mean to link to that?

    Comment by nrtechguy — Thursday, June 23, 2011 2:11 am @ 2:11 am

  7. I couldn’t eactly find an appropriate post to park this at so here will have to do

    Anecdotes hell !

    EPA Tyranny:At the mercy of an unelected bureaucrat

    “The case started four years ago when a married couple named Mike and Chantell Sackett received an EPA compliance order instructing them to stop construction on what was supposed to be their dream home near Priest Lake, Idaho. The government claimed their .63-acre lot was a federally-protected wetland, but that was news to the Sacketts, who had procured all the necessary local permits. Their lot, which is bordered by two roads and several other residential lots, was in fact zoned for residential use.
    The Sacketts contend that the compliance order was issued erroneously and they would like the opportunity to make their case in court. Yet according to the terms of the Clean Water Act, they may not challenge the order until the EPA first seeks judicial enforcement of it, a process that could take years. In the meantime, the Sacketts risk $32,500 in fines per day if they fail to comply. And complying doesn’t just mean they have to stop building; they must also return the lot to its original condition at their own expense. Moreover, if they did eventually prevail under the current law, the Sacketts would then need to start construction all over again. By that point they would have paid all of the necessary compliance costs plus double many of their original building expenses. And who knows how much time would have been lost. Where’s the due process in that? The Sacketts understandably want the right to challenge the government’s actions now, not after it’s become too late or too expensive for them to put their property to its intended use. For its part, the EPA argues that old-fashioned judicial review would simply get in the way. As the agency states in the brief it submitted to the Supreme Court, ‘A rule that broadly authorized immediate judicial review of such agency communications would ultimately disserve the interests of both the government and regulated parties, by discouraging interactive processes that can obviate the need for judicial action.’ ”

    Big Trouble In Idaho :

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, December 16, 2011 7:27 pm @ 7:27 pm

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