By Jordan Jaline
In the wake of catastrophic hurricanes such as Harvey and Irma, there has been an uproar from many on the left for the government to increase efforts to combat climate change and pollution. A recent article from The Hill talks about how environmentalists and blue state governments have formed a coalition of sorts and have threatened to sue the EPA over their decision to delay Obama-era regulations. These regulations are supposed to limit the amount of toxic chemicals that coal-fueled power plants can emit so that the water in surrounding areas might become less polluted. The delays will last for two years, pushing the deadline of compliance from November of 2018 to November of 2020. The burdensome regulations of the government will most likely cause some power plants to shut down. I’m all for clean water, but I do not believe that it is the government’s responsibility to mandate limits on pollutants. That responsibility lies with consumers and the residents of the towns and cities in which these power plants are located. If private individuals or scientific groups want to come up with and build a better power plant that is more efficient and more environmentally friendly, let them take care of it. The government doesn’t have the efficiency or competence to accomplish such an arduous task. It is simply too big of a project for them to undertake. Nonetheless, the government still can’t resist the urge to stick its ugly, power-hungry nose where it doesn’t belong.
Another example of this nosiness is the notion that better zoning laws and regulations would have lessened the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. No amount of zoning or government overreach could have prevented the damage done by these gargantuan, destructive storms. Houston is a city that doesn’t have zoning in the traditional sense, but crafty local lawmakers have implemented land use rules and regulations by alternative means. Particular instances include deed restrictions, parking requirements and homeowners associations. These policies are not only costly and ineffective, but they are also hurting the communities they are supposed to be helping. Land use regulations have impeded real estate development in areas like Houston, leaving very few options left for areas that could potentially be used for development of the local area. The unintended but all too obvious consequence of this is that the supply of housing in the market simply can’t keep up with demand.
Having said all of that, I believe climate change and pollution are serious problems, but as mentioned earlier, I have a different view of how to combat these problems than many on the left. I just don’t think the government can handle such monstrous tasks as quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively as private individuals, entrepreneurs, and private scientific organizations can. If enough consumers demand greener products and energy sources, eventually, the market will shift in that direction, leading to the highest quality goods at the lowest prices. The government could never accomplish that. I still maintain a certain degree of respect for the EPA, but I am also well aware of the reality that they have become little more than a vacuous cesspool of bureaucracy and corruption (SHOCKER!). The last thing environmental activists should be advocating for are bureaucratic institutions that hinder the economic and technological innovation that the same environmentalists claim to be yearning for. Improving the environment is a job for the invisible hand, not the filthy meddling hand that is the federal government.