USEPA Shows What Can Happen When a Regulatory Agency Is Captured by Zealots

Any regulatory “good cause” can be carried too far. Eventually most of the more important changes needed have been accomplished or have proved too difficult to accomplish. At that point those favoring the “good cause” begin to find problems that do not exist, are not worth trying to regulate, or are so poorly understood that anything “accomplished” is likely to prove the wrong answer. And if the “good cause” is being implemented primarily by a regulatory agency, the agency may lose its way by being taken over by enthusiasts on one or the other regulatory side. This can result in immense problems, even for those on the “winning” side by leading to such extreme policies that the public loses confidence in the Agency and even the movement.

This is where we are with regard to environmental protection. In the early days, there were a number of problems that needed to be solved but were not receiving sufficient attention (such as smog in Los Angeles and water pollution in many areas). But gradually the movement supporting the changes and the agency involved went off course–went “mad” as I have characterized it. This is clearly what has happened in the case of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Such agencies must be kept from over regulating, as is particularly likely to happen if the agency is captured either by those totally opposed to or in favor of regulation.

What Is Required Is Both Good Economics and Science as Well as Preventing Capture by One Side or the Other

As discussed two weeks ago, the best way to do this is to insist that they use good science and economics in every decision they make, but it is also very important that zealots on both sides are not allowed to capture the agency. This has increasingly not been the case for USEPA, which started going off the rails during the Carter and Clinton Administrations, when they agreed to accept high level political appointees from the environmental movement who brought in those with similar views and encouraged the Agency to adopt ever more extreme environmental policies.

When the ultra-environmentalist Obama Administration came into office it did not take much to push the Agency into following the policies advocated by the environmental organizations, many if not most of which cannot be justified on the basis of good science and economics. At that point, EPA had been fully captured by the movement. This is the Agency that the Trump Administration inherited in 2017, and is trying to reorient towards pursuing more sensible environmental policies.

via Carlin Economics and Science

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January 12, 2018 at 07:04PM

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