Financial And Environmental De-Regulation: Two Crashes In The Making


This post points out the parallel risk of under-regulating the financial industry and undercutting established environment protections. You may not like it; but the analogy is apt. Both strategies have us headed over a cliff.

Twenty-plus years of aggressively deregulating the financial industry and the culture of consumerism, together, have led the world into an economic crisis that harms innocents and guilty alike. You would think that, given the danger, free market fundamentalists would sit quiet for a bit, at least until we are well past the bailouts and government take-over announcements; and, the FBI is done with their investigation of "financial irregularities."

Free marketeers are not, however, sitting on their hands when it comes to environment de-regulation. In the USA they continue chipping away resolutely at long standing environmental protections. Today's New York Times story on a proposed rule to allow filling next to stream beds with mining waste epitomizes this.

The Interior Department has advanced a proposal that would ease restrictions on dumping mountaintop mining waste near rivers and streams, modifying protections that have been in place, though often circumvented, for a quarter-century.

The department’s Office of Surface Mining issued a final environmental analysis Friday on the proposed rule change, which has been under consideration for four years. It has been a priority of the surface mining industry.

Via:NYT, Federal Officials Seek to Relax Rules for Dumping Mine Waste

To be clear: not every proposed change to the environmental regs is dangerous. Regulatory change, sometimes requiring compromise of long standing principles and measurable standards, can be a very good thing for the future. The decision to not require an extensive environmental impact assessment study before considering further proposals for large scale solar thermal plants on public (desert) lands is a good example.

On the other hand, when weak enforcement of a long-standing environmental rule is the basis of lowering the standards for future Administrations, when "death by a thousand cuts" threatens to seriously erode the commons, we add to the risk of national environmental crisis. The endpoint of this kind of de-regulation is living blind in the face of environmental crisis, like China has, in its rush toward economic growth. Call it the "China-fication" of America.

Fortunately, the pendulum pushing our future toward the cliff can be returned to the center, through citizen involvement. See earlier post on:- The Pendulum Effect: Review And Prospects For Sustainability ...

Incidentally, this is not about the false choice of 'socialism' versus 'capitalism;' but, rather, it is about rule-making which balances the shared interests of industry, economy, public values, and future. It's a matter of not letting single interest groups, of any stripe, lobby to the exclusion of the others.

More On Environmental Risk Posed By Mining: From Our Archives
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