Sunday, August 22, 2010

put your dog on a leash for clean air?

Reading Dan Stockman's article "Clean-air picture hazy" in the The Journal Gazette really puts a damper on such a sunny and seemingly clean Sunday:

. . . the majority of the Indiana companies that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says have violated the federal Clean Air Act since Jan. 1, 2007, were still in violation on Dec. 31, 2009. Yet in more than a third of those cases, state and federal regulators have taken no action.

What do you mean majority of the Indiana companies have violated the federal Clean Air Act since 2007 and have not yet been slapped with some kind of warnings or fines to this day? Doesn't the law care about the quality of air we breath?

After all, If I were to take my dog to a public park, and he was to roam freely in the trees leaving his mark on anything he should find, I am entitled to a $50 fine for disregarding my responsibilities as a pet owner. And believe me, there are at least two park rangers on duty at all times, including on this fine Sunday, to roam the parks and regulate. They would off-road their government issued Ford sedan over fallen trees and small creeks just to get to you and your liberated pet, to issue you a warning first and give you a fine if necessary.

So where are these highly trained bark-police hiding for the last three years when it comes to the foul air our beloved companies are leaving behind? Is it more acceptable for pollution to mark our beautiful trees than it is for my four-legged friend to do just the same? (Leaving aside that my dog is an ever so loving rescued puppy who would rather lick you than to attack with any intention to harm; unlike the poisonous air that aims with no intent but a serious harmful side-effect. I would rather have a park full of roaming dogs than a city full of roaming dirty air.)

“(A lack of enforcement) creates a huge incentive not to fix the problem,” said Faith Bugel, a Clean Air Act attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago. “Why should they? No one’s coming after them.”

Even the violations the EPA said are its highest priority – by repeat violators and those who pollute more than allowed – are getting little attention: Twelve of the 62 facilities with “high-priority violations” have been in violation for three years without any enforcement action.

I did a little more reading on The Clean Air Act. I realized that it is up to the individual states to enforce violations. Great, with the amount of park police, in their shining green uniforms, sitting in their patrol cars on any given morning sipping coffee, there should be no shortage of manpower to help enforce and regulate these roaming off-leashed dirty air, right?

Well, things are always more complicated:

“Getting a facility into compliance can be very difficult,” Uhlmann, a University of Michigan law professor who used to be in charge of the U.S. Justice Department’s environmental crimes section said. “Many times, the companies involved are providing valuable, if not essential, services to the community, so it’s often not an option to shut a factory down or to be overbearing in dealing with whatever pollution problem they’re having.”

I guess in this economic climate, creating jobs for the community and greasing the wheels with politicians and federal agencies' watchdogs are more important than the policies to be enforced. I accept that as the price to be paid for living in such a generous society: one that offers me a liberated media to say whatever I please, and let me dogs off-lease pending a $50 fine. I guess if I should have the rights to let me four-legged friends roam and potentially harm others by peeing on them or pooping on public land, then big corporations putting hundreds of people to work should have the freedom to off-leash their pollutions and let dirty air pee on my face and poop in my lungs, pending a $500 fine.

But what is not fair is there are two patrol park-ranger sedans roaming a small city park just to enforce my misbehavings, but there are no bark-police to patrol and enforce fines for these companies... Next time at the park budget hearing, I may just say what's on my mind: I'm going to put my dogs on the leash just so you can free up some men to hunt down these dirty corporations the same way you've hunted me in the park... go nuts...

1 comment:

  1. I like your lighthearted comparison. I think you have brought light to a very red taped issue. Government says that "companies involved are providing valuable, if not essential, services to the community..." Which in turn, sounds like all their pollution output is swept under a rug if they somehow create needed "services/money" for the state/government. It is awful to see that money speaks so loudly and that the fate of our race and planet comes second! What needs to happen for harder regulations to become reinforced. And I do not think that the whole purchasing carbon credits works in the long run. I think that it is a cop out for many companies to purchase carbon credits and then continue to pollute the environment. It makes them no more responsible than they all ready are, it just gets more money into the governments hands....and then some of it will eventually trickle into an environmental program (side rant).
    I just think that it comes down to follow up and making people be responsible for their actions that are effecting thousands more people than themselves. It is making people realize that health and clean living for everyone around is more important than the money that their factory may be creating. It is time that people look beyond their life span and start to take care of the planet that they wish to pass down to future generations to come.