Eugene Newspaper: Investigate Policy Disputes

By December 31, 2007Global Warming

The Register-Guard’s editorial writers apparently thinks the country should be run by unelected federal agency staffers:

If ever a federal agency’s decision merited the undivided attention of congressional investigators, it is the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent rejection of California’s attempt to impose limits on greenhouse emissions from vehicles. Emissions limits in Oregon and more than a dozen other states were needlessly stalled by the EPA’s action.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has launched an investigation into why EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson refused to grant California the waiver from the federal Clean Air Act it needed to apply the tougher standards.

Investigators should start with the revelation, first reported by The Washington Post and later confirmed by California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office, that Johnson made his decision even though his legal and technical staff unanimously recommended approval of California’s request.

Rarely do we see such bald contempt for the U.S. republic and the rule of law. The legal authority rests with the agency director, appointed by a president elected by the voters of the United States. Staff members make a recommendation, but Johnson makes the decision.

Elections have consequences.

P.S. As previously noted, Jonathan Adler at Case Western Reserve has written on the legality of Johnson’s decision. Adler observes: “Agency expertise is important, but it is not the end-all-be-all of agency decision-making, and it is no substitute for politically accountable policy decisions by political appointees.” Is that so hard to understand?

Join the discussion One Comment

  • There is an important social principle that is currently being violated by many manufacturing activities: the principle that, while engaged in a profit-making activity, one must not leave a mess behind for the rest of society to clean up.

    This principle is understood in a societal context as common decency, but is continually breached in our economy to such an extent that nobody even objects!

    The easiest example is that of mineral water and soft-drink manufacturers, who sell a product that results in a consumer who usually discards a non-biodegradable PET bottle into the environment in an unregulated manner.

    We should mobilize citizens to demand legislation that every manufacturer must repurchase/collect and recycle as many tonnes of raw material as he uses on a week-by-week basis. For example, if a mineral-water manufacturer uses ten tonnes of plastics per week to manufacture bottles, he MUST buy back ten tonnes of plastic scrap and safely recycle it. The same goes for automobile manufacturers, who must buy back that many tonnes of metals, plastics, glass etc. every week, and find ways to recycle them. The cost may be met by raising the market price of their product… but the responsibility to make the recycling activity happen MUST be fixed on the manufacturer of every product.

    The same goes for manufacturers of tyres, batteries, plastic goods, newspapers, clothes, chemicals, auto-lubricant oils, etc. The list is long.

    And if this makes some manufacturing and marketing processes unviable, it means that their economic activity was unviable in the first place, and was sustainable only by passing on hidden costs to the environment, to society, to consumers etc !

    Many industrial activities are environmentally and socially subsidized to keep them economically profitable. Let us lobby governments to knock off that subsidy and see how many activities remain sustainable!

    I propose peaceful demonstrations to remedy this

    Small groups of citizens shall collect the branded packaging material of various manufacturers from the environment, and delivering them in large bundles every week to their corporate offices. It belongs to them, right? So let them have it back!

    A peaceful demonstration like this, sustained over some weeks, would make a powerful statement. I think this will make a powerful media impact as well… and thereby, an impact on the consciousness of people.

    What say? I would appreciate your detailed responses to this idea.

    Warm Regards

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