Coming to a market near you: increased food costs, thanks to California bureaucrats

Water

My native California is suffering the single worst recorded drought in the state’s history. Today, the drought crisis is so severe the some municipal governments are facing the prospect of no water at all. Literally none.

Now, it might be easy and maybe even a little emotionally satisfying for you to disregard this as the Golden State’s singular problem. Don’t.

Most of the vegetables, fruits and nuts you eat are grown in California. Limited water resources means additional costs to farmers there, and in turn greater food costs for consumers elsewhere.

The situation promises to worsen if environmental regulators succeed in pushing through new red tape that would require state and local governments to begin cleaning from its water a compound known as perchlorate. Perchlorate is both pervasive and naturally occurring and is nonthreatening to humans in the levels in which it is normally found.

As I wrote in a column for Flash Report over the weekend:

[California’s] Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)—think of it as red tape ground zero—recently revised the state’s public health goal for perchlorate, from six parts per billion (ppb) to an unnecessary and expensive standard of one ppb. …

Don’t get lost in the science of parts per billion: a tighter standard simply means that the state regulators would force water utilities, consumers and farmers to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars in clean up costs to go from already-safe water with negligible traces of perchlorate to safe water with no trace of perchlorate.

So, what’s the problem with ever so slightly cleaner water? In a vacuum, maybe none. But the ramifications of this regulation would never stop rippling. Because perchlorate occurs naturally, Californians will be treating their water forever and with no measurable improvement in the health or welfare of the people. …

Here, water is already in such short supply, and low-levels of naturally occurring perchlorate is so pervasive, that tightening the allowable standard will require local governments to divert hundreds of millions in tax dollars to finance the filtration campaign.

Consider the case of Rialto, California, where city officials have estimated that it could run as much as $300 million to scrub its water table of perchlorate. That is just one California city.

The costs for consumers, too, would be staggering.

New treatment plants would need to be built and existing plants would require costly retrofitting. These costs would be transferred directly to the consumers — meaning higher water prices at best and intense water shortages at worst.

Do you live in California and don’t want to see your water costs sky rocket? Or maybe you live on the east coast and just don’t want the cost of your favorite fruits and vegetables to double?

Do Something about it and contact the bureaucrats at CalEPA before they unroll the new red tape.

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