Friday, June 3, 2011

Is Environmental Regulation Costing the US Jobs?

Most of you who read my blog probably know that while I am a supporter of keeping our environment clean, I am not stupid about it. I do feel that industry must have some form of regulation and government oversight less they do damage to the environment like the placer mining companies did in California back in the late 1800’s.

As regulations and reviews have increased in size, scope and monetary outlay, they have become a burden on businesses. In California, environmental regulation has become so oppressive that heavy manufacturing has nearly become a thing of the past. These overbearing regulations are not isolated to CA. They have also caused the steel industry to be crippled and have closed off vast areas to resource development. The worst part of these regulations and reviews is that it has cost American jobs. Why would a manufacturer continue to build a product in this country when union wage scales and environmental regulations make it impossible for them to compete?

There has to be a tipping point; a point where environmental reviews and regulatory control comes to end and a project gets underway. As I said above, there must be some form of regulation and control. Somewhere within the process, there has to be a point where environmental regulations and review have to cease.  We need to be able to create our own steel and build our appliances and find and exploit our resources.

Below is an excerpt from a story at The Hill that shows how one project can be shut down or delayed indefinitely be environmentalists. (Link via Director Blue)

In Alaska, one of the most significant finds of copper, gold and molybdenum (hardens steel) in U.S. history was discovered. Yet almost a decade later – and more the $125 million of environmental and cultural studies later – the Pebble Mine is still begin subjected to Environmental Protection Agency review.  A review that is at best likely to demand that tens of millions more dollars be spent for additional studies encompassing an area roughly equal to the states of Maryland and New Jersey combined.  All to open one mine and put 2,000 miners to work.

To make matter worse, the ore won’t be processed in the U.S., because our domestic copper smelting capacity has been cut by about 60 percent in the past 20 years. More jobs lost largely on the altar of environmental regulation.

This is just one of myriad of how our nation’s obsession with litigation and environmental regulation has turned us into a place where employers cannot afford to create jobs.  It is cheaper and more profitable to do it elsewhere. (Source: The Hill)

I think that something the environmentalist crowd tends to forget is that not everyone is cut out to be a computer programmer or a banker or work in retail. There are people who enjoy working with their hands or doing rough labor. They understand how to make that shovel pick up a ton of dirt or turn a pile of dirt into something we can use. These are the kinds of people that built this country. Because of over-regulation and control, those jobs have gone the way of the dodo.

What is the tipping point I asked about above? I don’t know. But if we are going to continue as a great nation, we need to find that point. We need to find a point where environmental regulations and manufacturing interests can come together to get the nation working once again. We have the ability, the technology, and the know-how to build our industrial base once again and protect our environment.

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