On an Idea for Great Again

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

I’ve never written a president or a president-elect, but once I discovered I can submit my ideas on GreatAgain.gov, I just had to write my suggestion.

I’m approaching 64 years old, so I’m relying on my experience. While I was growing up in a small town in rural Appalachian Ohio, all the parents of my friends were working. In that same area today, jobs are difficult to find. Here’s an idea to help make America great again.

Not only should we abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), let’s repeal all (if not most) of the environmental laws Congress has passed since the late 1960s. After all, even in rural Ohio, I had clean air to breathe and clean water to drink when I was a kid before the EPA even existed.

For three summers during my college years, I worked at one of 4 coal-burning power plants in my area. Since those days, driving past the same plant I have noticed the facility is more than twice the size because the EPA required the facility to add so much anti-pollution controls. Today, not only has one of the four plants closed, so has the large coal mine located in the area.

Other industrial facilities have either closed or downsized. If you abolished the EPA and the environmental laws;

  • A layer of corruption and overreach in government would be gone
  • Cost to businesses and people decrease
  • Jobs would return to not only my home area, but across the country
  • Local businesses would thrive again because people would have more money to spend
  • Walmart will become accessible to more people because more stores will be built in new areas – stores that put people to work and all people to spend
  • The Constitution’s intent of state’s rights would be preserved, so if states like California want their own environmental rules, they can have so they can send jobs to Mexico or other countries
  • … besides, climate change is a hoax so we don’t need an EPA

I know businesses have the best interest of people, so they won’t pollute the water, air, and soil. I know business leaders like the Koch brothers would much rather spend millions on growing their business instead of using that money for lobbying and political campaigns. Growing their businesses to put Americans to work so people can spend is the American way. We the people need to let these business giants, other owners, and entrepreneurs unleash their creative power to return America to its past glory.

Mr. Trump … please, please dismantle the EPA and remove the burden of environmental laws so our economy can grow and America can return to prosperity for everyone. I want to make sure I see that we take back what the Chinese have – something that I never had … and if this doesn’t work, it’s Obama’s fault.

Thanks for listening.

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On Environmental Costs

Recently, President Obama overruled the EPA and ordered the EPA director to withdraw a proposal regulating health-based standards for smog-forming ozone. Pro-business people are delighted and pro-environment constituents aren’t happy.

The Setting: If no environmental controls existed, we pay a lot for environmental damage. If we had a life free from environmental damages, we pay a lot for environmental control.

The Key Questions: How much are we willing to pay in cost of damages? How much are will willing to pay in cost of controls?

Whenever costs are involved, human nature wanting the lowest possible cost is quite predictable – which is one reason why I appreciate this graph. Not only does it illustrate the lowest possible cost, but it also identifies the amount of accepted pollution (thus environmental costs) associated with that cost. May I also note that the cost lines are curved, not linear.

(Tietenberg, Tom, and Lewis Lynne. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, 8th edition. New York. Pearson Education, Inc, 2009, pg 358-362)

The US EPA is the regulatory agency responsible for developing, implementing, and enforcing the regulations to comply with legislation passed by Congress. Interestingly, the White House directly controls the EPA, thus enforcement directly correlates to the party in power and subject to political pressure. Some presidential administrations use Executive Orders to get around the guidelines by reducing EPA enforcement or to increase enforcement. Meanwhile, some candidates campaign to eliminate the EPA.

Without the EPA, our society would rely on the thoughtful nature of the business community to maintain quality air, water, soil, and all other natural resources. Let us not forget the years of burning rivers, poor visibility, waterways with limited life, and other aspects of poor environmental quality. Yes, those of us of a certain age remember those times – but anyone watching the 2008 Summer Olympics from Beijing can recall the images of their atmosphere.

There is no question that environmental controls can be expensive to business – and the stricter the regulation, the higher the preventative cost. However, I end this with these difficult questions: If control costs are too expensive, can control costs become prohibitive to the business? Is there a reasonable balance point regarding preventative costs and acceptable damage? Should the White House continue to control the EPA?