"Earth worshipers" is a term I've heard in these parts to define environmentalists, and to be sure, there are some real environmental extremists out there. ELF (Earth Liberation Front) and Earth First are a couple groups that come immediately to mind when I think of environmental extremism. Damage to personal and public property by extreme environmental groups has caused millions in damages worldwide... http://www.furcommission.com/resource/Resources/Terror.pdf and of course we end up paying higher prices, insurance premiums and taxes for these extremeist activities.
Yep, we'd be a whole lot better off without all the crazy environmentalists right? Let's remove regulations that hamper business and get back to the business of business instead of the business of dealing with government regulations right? It's all about government control right?
Hmmm... not so fast.
Today I'd like to offer a few places for you to consider when you think that government regulation is such a bad idea all the time...
Colorful Colorado is what the sign reads when you enter the state with the highest average elevation, but some of that color is highly tainted with obnoxious compounds and the like that in the past have killed millions of fish in the Arkansas River, and tainted water supplies downstream with heavy metals. And guess what, you and I are paying for the cleanup to this day. In the mountains near the town of Del Norte is a modern open pit mine called the The Summitville Mine. Major operations started in 1984, and by 1994, the company that ran the mine was bankrupt and the EPA had it listed as a Superfund cleanup site. http://www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/co/summitville/
Ever heard of Picher, Oklahoma? This town is just under 500 miles south east of McCook along the Kansas/Oklahoma border. As recently as 1920, Picher had a population greater than that of McCook, and today that town is unincorporated. Why? Environmental damage. And to make it just a little more interesting, you and me bought the town with our taxes. You see, mining for lead and zinc ruined the environment there, and the surrounding areas so completely that the government bought the town. Lack of environmental rules allowed it, and though the mining companies left in 1970's with their profits, we get stuck for the environmental repercussions. Read about Treece Kansas, a town next to Picher and their problems here... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/us/14kansas.html?_r=1&no_interstitial
Want something a bit closer? Here is a map of Superfund sites in Nebraska, and you can read about what is or was being done to clean up these toxic locations in our own back yards... http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/ne.htm
My point is this, while environmental rules can break a business, many a business has proven that they will take advantage of their situation to the expense of the common taxpayer by irresponsible management when unregulated, and out and out illegal activities when rules are in place. Illegal dumping right here in Nebraska has been targeted with taxpayer funded advertising to combat the problem. I doubt there is any accurate figure that incorporates the costs to taxpayers for business indiscretions related to the environment, but you can be sure it's a huge amount.
Is it fair to let business operate without environmental rules? No matter what your opinion is, you can be sure the folks of Treece Kansas have some pretty strong feelings based on real life experience, and I hope you will consider their plight when you think of business and regulations.