Obama and the Shattered Remains of His Environmental Policy

From the diaries.

Friday, January 20th, will see a symbolic transition of power. Given the coming demise of Barack Obama’s environmental regime, the soon-to-be-former President will see his machine of anti-free market principles tear at its seams.

With less than 4 days left of Obama’s reign, climate change and environmental policy benchmarks like the unconstitutional ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement, the executive empowerment of the Environmental Protection Agency, and an ardent disrespect for personal property rights will be directly challenged by a different perspective on governmental environmentalism.

The so-called line in the sand, marking the last stand of repressive climate alarmism, can now begin on the political left’s reception of incoming President-elect Donald Trump’s EPA agency head pick. In fact, the word reception is not even the proper term used to describe how progressive lawmakers and influencers have degraded Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Attorney General, and next EPA administrator. Simply due to a differing approach in views and leading legal action against Obama’s EPA and the climate change policies that have limited market growth and individual property rights, Pruitt, according to groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, automatically precluded himself from being an effective agency head.

However, these sentiments only confirm the crazed and hell-bent campaign to deny even the simplest of common sense economic principles to enter into the sphere of environmental policymaking and enforcement. Making matters worst and, simply, more convoluted, is the fact that other Trump nominees to mostly non-environmental postings in the executive branch (Like Pompeo to Director of CIA and Tillerson to Secretary of State) are being “attacked” for just having a differing point of view. Because of this, Senate confirmation hearings for several of these positions have gone, wildly, off topic and will continue to do so until the key players in Trump’s cabinet are fully vetted. All the while, the Democrats, in minority, are still latching onto the pipe dream that climate change is so bad that by electing Trump, the American people have sentenced themselves to death by the hands of an environmental cataclysm on the likes this Earth has never seen.

Something about a planet, millions of years old, experiencing a consistent change in weather and climate patterns, with or without man-made influence seems to not ring in the ears of the open-minded Democrats who prop up extremist findings from compromised scientific research as 100% fact. Ergo, dictating such things gives several climate doomsayers the self-imposed authority to restrict economic progress.

As I come down from a higher step on the multi-platformed soapbox, I have to continue to point out the obvious. One thing that is widely accepted is that the EPA is not built to put economic and private interests at the forefront, similarly to other parts of government.

One of the most troubling issues that much poorer, highly urbanized communities face is the EPA’s unintended fight against depressed communities.

One of these major issues is the movement for pointless and costly federal intervention on the combatting of an alleged threat posed by climate change, the EPA’s Administrator, Gina McCarthy, has outlined in a recently published, multi-point plan to promoting “environmental justice.”

In plain English, the agency has gorged with a self-delegated regulatory power to crack down on polluters in low-income minority communities and on Indian reservations. Such a move is a part of the agency’s four-year plan for reducing economic inequality associated with the environment, which may have met its demise with the rise of the incoming Trump Administration.

EPA posed the real threat as they focused on the “polluters”  in many of these communities, like power plants and manufacturers, that serve as prime sources of employment. Expanding the EPA’s power and self-interest would’ve increased the level of regulatory and enforcement personnel in the field with the power to wield a sword of absolutely punitive power.

McCarthy also pointed out that one of the main directives that the agency wishes to focus on in this four-year plan is to become a more aggressive regulator than a passive monitor of environmental effects. This is to be done via the actions to “address pollution and public health burdens caused by violations of environmental laws in the nation’s most overburdened communities, strengthen the role of environmental justice in EPA’s compliance and enforcement work, and enhance work with our regulatory partners in overburdened communities.”

This would’ve also spurred an uptick in the agency’s criminal justice activities in seeking criminal reparations for any violators of environmental law that directly threatens the population.

One major flaw, to say the least, in the plan like this is how will the agency doesn’t address even its slightest tendencies of negating any possible growth in these communities. Let’s consider communities in and around Cleveland, Ohio like Canton and Massillon. Both communities are dependent upon the dying steel industry and what’s left of the heavy manufacturing industry. Considering this fact, Canton, Ohio, alone is one of the poorest cities in the state. With an ever declining population in Canton-proper, the majority of residents have an average family income of less than $36,000 and the majority of families falling under the current federal poverty line. Several individuals are also recipients of state and federal welfare resources that have left them all but dependent upon government dime. A large portion of the population is black, for added understanding.

The Timken Company, a publicly traded steel manufacturer headquartered in Canton, is the city’s largest employer and has a track record for violating pollution standards in their plants. Though the company invests heavily in environmental social responsibility, the new plans from the EPA can pave the way for stricter regulation on pollution at the local level, and, in effect, threaten the health of Timken and its employment base in Canton.

It is a proven fact that more government regulation kills commerce. The EPA’s environmental justice program, like everything they have done, would’ve backfired, sparked outrage, and proved the inadequacy of the agency.

Adding insult to injury, EPA, through President Obama’s entire tenure, has made matters worst for communities all across the United States. One of the other major zits on the EPA’s ugly face was the series of unfortunate events that unfolded in Colorado many, many months ago. On the state’s Western Slope, the EPA single handily cocked-up the Gold King Mine incident, during the play out and in the latter.

In 2015, EPA vetted and contracted personnel who, with negligence, mistakingly opened up a seepage of pollutants from a defunct mine site and allowed for over 3 million of orange-colored water containing 900,000 pounds of heavy metals, like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury into a creek way that directly feeds into the main arteries of the Animas River. In effect, the incidental discharges infected waterways in three states that garnered billions of dollars in damages.

Though efforts have been lead by state and tribal officials to hold the government accountable for its own mistake, the EPA denied a $1.2 billion payment package to assist in on-going clean up and for reparations for local communities.

Other embarrassments leave the EPA, and Obama’s legacy tattered. People who even favor the efforts of the lame-duck administration have called such efforts “mixed,” rather than just fully successful.

Though such groups are teaming with leftists that have different portions of beef to pick with Obama’s legacy, they all conclude the same thing: Obama wasn’t the green crusader so many think he is. In an op-ed for The Jackson Sun, one columnist points out that he “once boasted of increasing oil and gas production under his administration.” However, in the very same op-ed, the columnist, Leon Kolankiewicz, has argued that Trump’s presidency is a, essentially, a curse calling him the “anti-Roosevelt.”

In the sake of concluding my portion of a neverending argument, Obama has done nothing to promote economic growth and has stripped the private sector of the ability to maintain the environment as several economic and private interests see fit. Trump, though I am optimistic, needs to move this government from central planning tendencies and needs to promote free markets while being pro-business. The solution is simply to allow free markets to succeed.

On record, private organizations have had better success than governmental intervention in managing wildlife and environmental impact. With an emphasis on property rights and the self-anointing want for environmental stewardship because of economic growth and space for free enterprise, environments will improve without the government.

“…We should try to find ways to establish accountability (along with the freedom and incentive to innovate) by establishing or strengthening property rights,” states Property and Environment Research Center senior associates Richard Stroup and Jane Shaw in a highly cited 1992 essay on free market environmentalism.

With such things in place, we can move forward with Trump, only if he is willing to join us. As for Obama, his environmental legacy is dead and nothing has improved, economically, in regards to environmental regulation. In fact, things only worsened. Now, though, we need to engage and act to prevent even more catastrophe.