The environmental protection movement is bracing for what could be one of its biggest challenges in decades: the nomination of a climate change skeptic and longtime opponent of Environmental Protection Agency regulations to assume leadership of that same agency.
Scott Pruitt, attorney general of the oil and gas-friendly state of Oklahoma, was confirmed as President-elect Trump’s pick to head the EPA on Wednesday.
“Quite clearly, this is a 180-degree shift from where the administration has been on most things environment-related,” David Konisky, associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, told CBS News.
Hamstrung from enacting climate change legislation through Congress, the Obama administration has in recent years relied heavily on the EPA to implement its environmental agenda across the country through enacting regulations and regulatory oversight. Under Pruitt, the agency is poised for major transformation.
First Trump will have to decide where he stands on climate change. Is it a Chinese hoax as he said earlier or more recently he said he is open to the idea. The future First Daughter Ivanka might yet get into his ear. And Cabinet and non-Cabinet personnel follow the direction of Presidents.
Trump will not allow climate change notions to hurt the economy. That much is clear. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t go out of his way to stop funding for research on the subject.
The Chinese leaders are more or less split on the issue, but rest assured they won’t be listening to First World alarmists anytime soon and have no incentive to whatsoever.
But the idea that the EPA itself will be turning 180 degrees is surface-thinking propaganda. Several dozen environmental groups have sued the Obama/Biden EPA and I’m sure the same thing will happen once Trump gets into office.
IMO, appointing a lawyer to such an agency just encourages litigation. Someone with an AG background may have been a more suitable selection. They could offer valuable input on why deregulating and regulating certain things could be supportive of food production, pest management, water quality and land use (to name a few).
Actually, if belief in man-made climate change is wide spread enough, the free market actually is capable of protecting the environment, because people won’t buy from companies that excessively harm the environment.
I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen, but it’s not as laughable an idea as some would think.
In the interests of full disclosure, I raise grass-fed beef as a side “occupation”. I’m not a believer in MMGW, but I have no objection to people trying to limit atmospheric CO2, even though we’re still not at “plant optimum” yet, the level at which plant growth is optimized.
But I do believe agricultural practices worldwide are responsible for a lot of environmental problems. If one considers increases in atmospheric CO2 an environmental problem, then here’s something to think about.
Plants sequester a lot of CO2, and their rate of growth affects it a lot. They can be more efficient or less efficient in doing it.
Granted, the following citation is an “industry publication” for ranching, but it points out that even a 10% increase in organic carbon in the soil of pasture lands worldwide, could reduce atmospheric carbon by 100 ppm. Even the more radical MMGW believers don’t have that optimistic an expectation. In actuality, a 10% increase in organic carbon in the soil isn’t all that hard to achieve. It just takes knowing how and making the effort. A side benefit is that it improves ranching efficiency.
In my opinion, whatever it’s worth, if the government is going to be involved in CO2 “mitigation”, it ought to do it in ways that actually benefit mankind instead of just making life more expensive.
The mechanism you describe for the free market protecting the environment relies on altruism on the part of consumers, which is more than the usual “self-interest” motivation commonly associated with the concept of “free market.” So in that sense, it is not the free market that is protecting the environment, but the altruism of the consumers.
I say altruism and not self-interest for the following reason. Even though a consumer can perceive a threat to the environment as a threat to his welfare personally, the action of boycotting a company that hurts the environment is ineffective if only one person does it. Without a means of ensuring a common response to this threat, each individual concerned consumer who might have joined a boycott will be less willing to take action. The immediate consequence of taking action without common agreement is that the one who takes the action suffers the cost of that action (in this case, the loss of benefiting from a really good deal) without any assurance that his sacrifice will have any effect. As far as he sees it, he is doing without the good deal from the boycotted company while the rest of society continues to benefit. Therefore it takes altruism on the part of the consumer to discount his personal loss in the face of the hope of better world for all. The only way such a thing can succeed is if 1.) a majority of the public acts altruistically without regard to what anyone else is doing, or 2.) the public forms a binding agreement to act in unison, so that no one person needs to commit to action unless he knows that everyone else is going to be committed to that action too. That second option is called “government regulation”, or in this case, the EPA.
For example, we know that sweatshops are bad for people, but we continue to benefit from cheap “fast fashion” clothing. We know that child labor (slavery?) is used in the production of chocolate, but we continue to consume massive quantities of it.
Thats due to people being so selfish these days, they may say they hate slave labor and child labor in some of these places, but it becomes too much of an inconvenience if they cannot buy the currently popular fashions that everyone else is enjoying.
Same thing is true for those that believe in man made warming/ climate change, its popular to be ‘against it’, but only to the point of words, they will certainly not be giving up any luxury or convenience item, even if it meant a solution.
This is not a “people not wanting to give up their luxuries” problem. Those with smaller pockets are just as guilty of supporting slave labor because the clothes that they are able to afford are cheap precisely because they’re made with cheap labor. I’m not talking about fancy dresses. I’m talking about things like basic needs like underwear and socks. Even secondhand clothes… someone put there had to of made the original purchase. No one can fault them for it, but let’s not pretend that purchasing products made with slave labor is something done only by people with ample means.
On the contrary, products that are not made with slave labor have to be more expensive in order to pay workers a proper wage. If anything it’s the people who can afford to make the choice that have an actual choice. The rest are stuck perpetuating the cycle because they are unable to do otherwise.
“Going green”, is the same problem. It’s not just a matter of people not wanting to give up their luxuries. A lot of people genuinely can’t afford it because the products and the technology are not cheap enough.
Of course, there’s that joke: “I’m not rich enough to shop at Walmart”, the idea being that the quality is so low one ends up buying more often because it breaks/wears out quickly.
So, consumers are undoubtedly better off with cheap foreign goods in a way, but one does have to wonder whether they are in the long run, and particularly if wages stay stagnant or go down some more relative to what even the “slave labor” products cost.
Trump might or might not be able to bring a lot of manufacturing back or keep more here than would have otherwise been the case. But it seems inevitable that things will cost more if he does, at least to the degree that transportation and materials savings are more than offset by cheap labor.
The big question is whether an expected overall improvement in job availability and wages, perhaps combined with greater durability of goods, will somehow offset loss of cheaper prices. I sure don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know if anybody does.
But it can’t be denied that such an approach would be closer to the particular kind of ideas people Like Chesterton, Lewis and Belloc had (and probably most of the Popes after Leo XIII). I hate to call it “Distributism” because of the distortions that term has undergone over the decades. But in their day, that’s largely what they meant by it.
Chesterton in particular decried, e.g., the fact that England was importing most of its food while English land lay unused. Limiting the notion to food for the moment, he expected it would cost more because imports were cheaper. But he expected if England produced more of its own food, the economy itself, and the lives of people, would be better because more Brits would get the money that the foreign producers and importers were receiving.
It’s not just climate change but all environmental issues he’s against mitigating, from local pollution on up.
When people get toxic waste sites or noxious factories spewing poisons situated next to their homes, or leaking poisons the gov does not want to stop or clean, then we’ll see if they are still dancing for joy that Trump is president.
Of course, the powers that be will be careful not to situate these in rich neighborhoods, where the people have much more squawking power and the land costs too much anyway.
Much of this will likely change once robots replace human workers and everything becomes automated, the need for slave labor in foreign nations is something that will not be necessary much longer, once the technology is available, location will not be a factor anymore. Plus progress in technology in other other regards, like transportation, shipping, etc will change the playing field as well. Eventually we will find more efficient ways to move large quantities of products, materials, etc.
So in that regard, cost should go way down, robots may cost more upfront, but they can work 24/7 with no pay, no sick leave, vacations raises. If these are the kinds of things keeping prices high right now, there will be no excuse for the same prices when the manufacturer cost go down drastically.
Along with the lowering of costs will be the reduction in the means to earn money to pay even those lower costs. We could have a paradox of simultaneous starvation and plenty, unless someone figures out how the benefits of all this improved productivity is going to be shared by all.
Being a Detroiter, I am really encouraged by this appointment. It helps support the base that elected him, the working class, especially those who rely on manufacturing or energy.
For those who are unaware, the auto companies are forced to sell the small cars at a loss, so that their Corporate Average Fuel Economy rating remains above the legal standard when they sell the profitable cars, such as trucks.
This has provided a trend to produce those small cars as cheaply as possible, those are the product lines that get moved out of country.
The auto workers are very concerned that the mid level cars will go next, leaving fewer manufacturing jobs here, all in the name of CAFE regulations.