Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

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Mark T. Cenci
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

I don't think that is a true characterization of corporate liability and regulation. We just had a thread posted last month about a $175,000 fine levied against CN Brown, Inc., for a failure to comply with a storage tank regulation.

No spill whatsoever. Perhaps not even a real threat. Merely a violation of one of thousands and thousands of governmental proscriptions.

Years ago I worked at a rock crushing mill in western Maine. We were regulated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. We had a notice of upcoming inspections and would devote 2 weeks to specifically cleaning up and modernizing and retrofitting and complying with rules. This was an ancient facility and very challenging to maintain. We had a full time licenced electrician constantly working to rewire the whole place and install modern safety features.

No matter what we did the MSHA inspector always found violations, amounting to several thousand dollars in fines.

By the way, the only injuries in the 2 years I was there were results of workers not wearing their safety goggles, etc. Voluntary things.

It was clear to all the working men in this place that the MSHA inspections were hurting the business.

Two guys wanted to arrange "an accident" involving the inspector. We talked them out of it.

Anonymous
Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

Right. That's the rub. Once you start codifying stuff, it becomes unwieldy. Unfortunately, that's government! But corporations exist to make money, not protect the environment (whatever that means).

Punk
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

I'm disappointed.

I think this is a great discussion with some practical suggestions and ideas, and interesting if only philosophically.

I would have thought that the 'Liberal', or at least 'Statist' contingent would have some substantive input as to the Government's role concerning an issue that is thought to be 'owned' by that side of the political spectrum.

Some state that they don't like religion or morality shoved down their throats, but the environmental movement (at least the extreme side of it) preaches Environmentalism with a religious fervor. I've heard politicians (left of center) describe it as a 'moral' issue that needs attention.

Dan Billings
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

How would the tort theory work to deal with non-point pollution such as pollutions from cars? If a city is covered with smog, who gets sued?

Northarrow
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

[quote="Punk Freud"]I'm disappointed.
[/quote]

Punk:

The longer a thread goes, the wider the circle of comments it generates - like a egg dropped onto a frying pan that gradually spreads out. I don’t think you should be disappointed. If your goal is to garner a true representative sample of environmental thought across the far left to far right spectrum, then yes, one could get disappointed - since AMG tends to predominately reflect right of center opinion.

Your observation that the extreme environmental movement [i]“preaches Environmentalism with a religious fervor”[/i] is an idea that is getting more ‘play’ these days, but also an idea I can’t quite understand. When does a group (whether far left or far right), that is committed to a position, lobbies strongly for a particular direction and is able to elicit increasing support among others cross an imaginary threshold to [i]“religious fervor”[/i] status? Does it at some point become a tactic of the ‘other’ side to brand a movement that way in the hope that it generates some kind of negative reaction? I don’t know. But an example of this trend is the anti-global warming talk radio gang that seems to have settled on describing the warming proponents as a burgeoning religious sect. Why is that?

In regard to left of center politicians describing environmental action as a [i]“moral”[/i] issue, that’s no big deal. At one time or another, I’ve heard politicians from the left and the right describe everything from affordable health care - increased defense spending - jobs programs for inner city youth - abortion - you name it, as moral issues. It’s a favorite word for all elected people to use to add emphasis to their ideas.

Punk
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

Northarrow-

I can appreciate that post.

Let's put it this way. Over the course of the past 20 years, I've (like most) had many, many conversations, arguments, you name it about 'the environment'. On a daily basis, I observe folks, who look for every excuse to tell someone how they can help save the environment. At a cubby, while rinsing out a plastic bowl, a 'deeply religious environmentalist' took it upon themselves to 'preach' to me: 1) about the soap that I was using, 2) about letting the water run, and 3) that I threw away a bottle that could be recycled (mind you, not one that I would get my nickel back). This is just one of dozens of times I've experienced or witnessed this behavior. Not just a friendly recommendation, but a preaching to-- with the fervor of the most fanatical convert. I've yet to see real metrics concerning man-made global warming, metrics on the efficacy of recycling 'everything', paper vs plastic, etc.

Al Gore, for example, has become Jim Baker-esque with 'Tel-environmentalism' (I think I just coined that, thank you).

Mark T. Cenci
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

Air is a commons. It seems regulatory structure must be employed.

Dan Billings
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

Thanks.

I think conservatives too often knock the usefulness of trial lawyers. Court cases allow for laws to be developed in a case by case manner. If the laws developed do not work, they can easily be altered in later cases. Over time, laws are developed that work and become accepted.

When legislatures act, they are trying to come up with rules that apply generally -- not to a specific case. They don't have the facts of a case to guide their decisions. They are making broad brush rules that are not as easily changed.

Punk
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

OK- So, air is a commons. And the Government's role is to regulate (ie protect) the resource for all. Is Government justified in being pro-active, or must it wait for someone to claim damages or that the resource is in danger.

For example, Augusta has no smog problem that I'm aware of. Is the state justified in mandating emissions controls for all vehicles sold/owned/operated in Augusta to prevent (ie protect) the resource? Los Angeles is a textbook illustration of smog problem that CA has somewhat addressed with CA emissions. Justified? What about Maine emission controls (If I recall, some towns or counties have controls now)-- pro-active or the result of damages?

Further-- how to reward non-emitters of emissions? (ie reward air stewardship)?

Northarrow
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

Dan: I’m a bit confused here.

[quote]Court cases allow for laws to be developed in a case by case manner. If the laws developed do not work, they can easily be altered in later cases. Over time, laws are developed that work and become accepted.
[/quote]

Court cases represent an adjudicated process whereby two sides disagree with the meaning, interpretation or intended application of a law or regulation created via the legislative process. Court cases represent conflict resolution and provide clarity to the original law.

Under what basis do court cases [i]“allow for laws to be developed”[/i]? Isn’t a court case an attempt to seek judicial guidance in a situation where a generalized legislative law, applied to a specific situation is contested?

If a judicial ruling is handed down in a case that is clearly not what was intended when the legislative body enacted the original law, isn’t it the legislative body’s responsibility to actually change the law (if it so chooses)?

Michael Vaughan
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We're keeping our dam water!

[quote="Roger Ek"]...The environmental industry has been completely pre-empted by the looney left. The best example in Maine is a paper mill whose discharge water is cleaner than the water they take in from the river. Yet the environmental industry continues to want the paper mill to improve its performance. They are already in effect a giant river filter improving the environment, with the river below the mill better than it was above.[/quote]Which begs the question; Why do they put it back?

Why couldn't they just "recycle" the water, replenishing whatever was lost to evaporation with a rainwater collection pond?

bogeys
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

It would be extremely costly to have a "closed loop" type of system. A typical paper/pulp mill uses 20 to 30 million gallons of water per day from the river. It's not quite true that the effluent from a mill is cleaner than the incoming water from the river. There is also the issue of temperature of the effluent that could have an effect depending on the size and flow of the river. Most mills have clarifiers and or lagoons which stabilize and treat the effluent before discharge to the river much like a municipal wastewater plant. Some of the Regs are good as there is a need to not negatively impact the river and it's ecosystem but some Regs go way over the top and do very little for the environment as a whole.

Editor
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

To what extent is government and it's enviro allies using [i]environmental protection[/i] for social control?

skf

bogeys
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

I wouldn't characterize the Government and the Enviros as allies although I would say that gov't is heavily influenced by the efforts of the enviro movement. They lobby hard and have the numbers when hearings, bills and policies are determined.

Michael Vaughan
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

[quote="bogeys"]It would be extremely costly to have a "closed loop" type of system. A typical paper/pulp mill uses 20 to 30 million gallons of water per day from the river. It's not quite true that the effluent from a mill is cleaner than the incoming water from the river. There is also the issue of temperature of the effluent that could have an effect depending on the size and flow of the river. Most mills have clarifiers and or lagoons which stabilize and treat the effluent before discharge to the river much like a municipal wastewater plant. [/quote]What's so costly about it?

It sounds like a few more lagoons for cooling and settling would do it, just pump it around and re-use it. After all, you're not going to drink it.

What do they do now, pump some of the settling lagoons dry in rotation, and use loaders to scoop up the sludge?

Northarrow
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

[quote="Editor"]To what extent is government and it's enviro allies using [i]environmental protection[/i] for social control?

skf[/quote]

Boy - now that’s a far reaching question.

[b]ALL[/b] laws, regulations and directives promulgated by society (any society) has for it’s intended goal some form of [i]“social control”[/i]. Whether it’s a prohibition against murder, public nudity, dumping raw sewage into a river or anything else you can think of, codified social control forms the critical foundation for all human coexistence.

Now if you mean [i]“using environmental protection for social control”[/i] as a metaphor for some kind of coordinated effort that is intended to result in “rural cleansing” (an oft used term here), then I would say the connection is weak.

bogeys
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

Michael, lagoons generally are quite large...think of a pond of 15 to 20 acres. Even if you had a number of them you would never have enough to completely take out all of the particulates and dissolved solids. You need clean filtered water to run the various needs and systems of a paper mill. Plus you would have to have enough area for these extra lagoons in the proximity of the mill and then there is the permitting and such. In answer to your other question there is usually a "settling pond" which preceded the lagoon where most of the solids settle before entering the lagoon. That is dug out periodically (two to three years) and the lagoon usually takes care of itself as there is biological action taking place where dredging removing is not needed.

Editor
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

Northarrow -

Why weak? Look at GrowSmart. Central planning. Get people out of rural areas. Herd them into urban areas.

Look at the population trends, economic trends in Maine areas targeted for environmental protection. Where's the growth? Look, for example, at Plum Creek.

skf

Michael Vaughan
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Wonderful public skating and hockey rinks.

Well, it seems there is a lot of water treatment infrastructure currently in place.

So exactly what is the condition of the effluent being put back in the rivers? I was under the impression that it is pretty clean.

The filtered current effluent would not be suitable why? Seems like it would be worth it just in getting the EPA monkey off their backs.

What happens to the functionality of all these open holding facilities in the wintertime?

Dan Billings
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

[quote="Northarrow"]
Court cases represent an adjudicated process whereby two sides disagree with the meaning, interpretation or intended application of a law or regulation created via the legislative process. Court cases represent conflict resolution and provide clarity to the original law.

Under what basis do court cases [i]“allow for laws to be developed”[/i]? Isn’t a court case an attempt to seek judicial guidance in a situation where a generalized legislative law, applied to a specific situation is contested?

If a judicial ruling is handed down in a case that is clearly not what was intended when the legislative body enacted the original law, isn’t it the legislative body’s responsibility to actually change the law (if it so chooses)?[/quote]

Courts often deal with cases where there is a dispute concerning a metter where the Legislature has passed no law. The Courts then try to decide what existing laws should apply in that situation. One example of such a situation in the last 20 years were cases dealing with the control of frozen embroyos and the inheritance rights of children born from such embroyos long after a parent had died.

My point is that the Legislature often does great damage when passing laws in such developing situations and it may be best to allow the law to develop slowly in a case by case basis. Many of the laws that we are accept today wre developed that way, not through the Legislative process.

I certainly agree that when the Legislature has acted, the courts must apply the laws passed if the laws are constitutional.

bogeys
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

Michael, the final effluent varies from mill to mill and the limits imposed upon the mills by the DEP. If you exceed your permit you'll be fined. The paper mills in Maine run much "cleaner" today than in years past due in part to efficiencies, paying attention to your process and regulation. The answer to your second question about wintertime running of lagoons...they function quite well in the winter too. As water temp decreases dissolved oxygen increases allowing for microbial activity to continue and remember the water is in a constant state of flow and thus no freezing.

Michael Vaughan
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Thanks, good discussion

I guess I'll have to go up and take a look at some of the systems.

Northarrow
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Government's Role in Environmental Protection?

[quote="Editor"]Northarrow -

Why weak? Look at GrowSmart. Central planning. Get people out of rural areas. Herd them into urban areas.

Look at the population trends, economic trends in Maine areas targeted for environmental protection. Where's the growth? Look, for example, at Plum Creek.

skf[/quote]

Editor:

I was responding to your broad question about environmental protection and social control. Now with this post, the target widens further to incorporate economic policy. I’ll leave that part out in favor of staying true to the original topic.

I used the word [i]"weak"[/i] to describe the idea that there is a direct, coordinated, planned, overt or covert connection between environmental protection efforts and a systematic goal of depopulating rural areas. Environmental protection regulations and laws apply statewide (in growth & non-growth areas), and in many cases stem from federal mandates (i.e. Clean Water Act - Clean Air Act). It was meant to be narrowly applied.

Is your use of [i]“environmental protection”[/i] meant to be synonymous with [i]“land acquisition”[/i]? If so, I still don’t believe that the State purchase of some bog in northern Maine is intended by the supporters of such a purchase as a way to drive another nail in the rural Maine coffin. Enviro groups are always looking to [i]“protect”[/i] something. They are not smart enough to orchestrate a fully integrated rural cleansing campaign.

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