Saturday, April 9, 2011

Indiana: gays may not be able to get married, but at least our rivers don’t burn! - by Leontiy Korolev.

Environmentalists get discredited in many ways. In fact, just calling someone an environmentalist has negative connotations in certain contexts. I heard Indiana Senator, Beverly Gard, in an answer to a substantive environmental question, applaud Indiana’s environmental efforts because our rivers don’t catch on fire. Ironic, considering Nixon created NEPA, the National Environmental Protection Act, which laid the groundwork for future environmental legislation. By the way, the “burning river” is the Cuyahoga River, which is the quintessential example of the reasons for environmental regulation. Ohio’s river actually used to catch on fire prior to regulation of polluting sources.

Anyways, even Nixon’s environmental standards were a bit higher than, “make sure your rivers don’t sustain fire.” In fact, here’s some language from the NEPA preamble (which Nixon drafted himself!...Joke): “to declare national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable Harmony between Man and his Environment…biosphere and stimulate health and welfare of man…enrich understanding of ecological systems and natural resources important to the National...”

Well enough venting, here’s some substance. I’ll point out some of the glaring statistics, but you can do your own analysis: (From Scorecard):
As Indiana residents, we have the

• 12th highest added cancer risk;
• 14th highest health risks from criteria air pollutants;
• 9th in releases of toxic chemicals with respect to total environmental releases;
• 8th in releases of toxic chemicals into the air;
• 2nd in releases of toxic chemicals into the water;
• 4th in releases of recognized carcinogens to the air;

Things might not be so bad if there were some sort of enforcement mechanisms or legal structures to monitor and punish polluters, perhaps a permit system that could be monitored and enforced by the states or the federal government. Enter Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and several other regulatory schemes. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act was intended to ensure that companies have permits for the pollution that they release. As of 2010 at least 200 facilities in Indiana had broken air pollution laws in the past three years. 12 of these have been considered “high-priority.” These “high priority” violators have been violating the Clean Air Act continuously for at least 3 years. (Stockman, Dan. “Clean-air Picture; Bad Data, Slow Action Cloud Enforcement Efforts.” The Journal Gazette 28 Mar. 2010.) So, the problem is not just that there is a lot of pollution in this state; the real problem is that the “authorities” know about the pollution and very little action is being taken. As they say, there’s a reason they call it Indiana Department of Environmental Management, as opposed to protection.

What’s the point of this article, just to piss and moan? Kind of. But the fact is that these are some harsh stats. Environmentalists may be easily discredited, but making fun of thrift shop hipsters won’t change the fact that you should not be drinking Indiana’s tap water. These are facts. The state is dirty. Indiana’s environment and environmental policies may attract typical industries, and it may keep some jobs in the state, but it hurts the welfare of our citizens and it certainly does not invite nor keep those with a “non traditional” entrepreneurial approach.

I hope this wasn’t offensive to those of you with the “if you don’t like it then go somewhere else” mentality. Actually, yes I really do.


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