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Environmental Purity Agency

Dr. Marvin Folkertsma's picture

The rollout of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new draft regulation to limit greenhouse gases was accompanied by a brilliant political cartoon that showed a pair of hapless fellows with automobile mufflers protruding from their mouths, apparently to prevent any renegade CO2 exhalations from polluting the atmosphere with their climate-changing carbon halitosis.

Call this part of the agency’s 97 percent solution, based on the frequently made claim that the number represents the percentage of scientists who blame climate change on human activity.

The fact that this figure is fiction, as pointed out in an excellent review of the findings by Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer in a recent Wall Street Journal article, deters the climate-catastrophe conjurers not one bit; the number is repeated as part of the climate-control catechism.

And anyway, who’s going to quibble over a few percentage points when the fate of the earth is in the balance?

Or is it? Have the climate-change crusaders gone clinically mad, as Steven F. Hayward suggests? The answer is, it depends on how you regard their true motivations, or how you extend the likely consequences of their behavior.

Consider Anthony Downs’ portrayal of bureaucratic types that he outlined in his public administration classic, “Inside Bureaucracy,” published a half century ago.

The purely self-interested officials included climbers, who “seek to maximize their own power, income, and prestige,” and conservers, who “seek to maximize their own security and convenience.” Neither type gives a whit about the betterment of their bureaus or society as a whole.

More interesting are zealots who are religiously committed to a narrow policy or program; advocates, who work on behalf of their organizations; and statesmen, whose motivations extend to the broader concerns of society or the nation.

These types are found in all organizations, but the point in this context is that EPA officials talk like statesmen but act like zealots. Which means that absolutely nothing should stand in the way of their policy goals; only the mission matters, nothing else.

Consider the costs of phasing out coal over the course of the next 25 years or so, which is the consequence of these new regulations.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that by the end of 2023, “nearly 600,000 jobs would be lost; a family of four’s income would drop by $1,200 per year, and aggregate gross domestic product would decrease by $2.23 trillion over the entire period of the analysis.” Especially hard hit would be low-income families, manufacturers, and the Midwest, which are heavily reliant on coal.

And for what? Reducing global temperature by a few tenths of a degree Celsius by the end of the century, a change that might come about anyway, and in a larger amount, by natural fluctuations in the climate.

It gets worse. In “the most breathtaking power grab I’ve seen in a long time,” according to Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, the EPA proposed rules that would extend its jurisdiction over the nation’s “intermittent and ephemeral streams and wetlands,” generated by occasional wet seasons, or simply when it rains.

Careful! That pond in your backyard could be toxic! Same with ditches and streams that are miles away from navigable waterways.

This extension of control over private property and citizens’ everyday lives is breathtaking. And in spite of a recent Supreme Court decision curtailing the agency’s powers, the EPA’s proclivities remain clear.

But, this expansion of governmental power is more than just breathtaking; it is all-encompassing, especially considering that everything a person does in life somehow entails carbon and water.

In this way the zealots at the EPA have discovered, or stumbled upon, a means to use environmental concerns to limit fundamental freedoms in a manner reminiscent of George Orwell.

Further, EPA zealots and their allies have developed a rich Newspeak vocabulary to vilify their enemies, including comparing anthropogenic climate-change skeptics to Holocaust deniers.

By this interpretation, today’s climate troglodytes have no place in a new world order where the country’s earth worshippers bow before a Big Brother symbol represented by the EPA.

Orwell’s “1984” contains a classic scene where O’Brien is torturing poor Winston Smith, telling him he is insane and that the point of his tribulations is to make him perfect.

Something like this follows from the increasing misery inflicted on American citizens by this notorious agency: green is good, carbon is bad, pollution is evil. Thus, America must be strapped to that gurney and be subject to officially inflicted depredations to wring out its environmental malevolence, to cleanse it from the sin of pollution, until the nation, too, becomes perfect.

And, as in “1984,” it is not enough to accept the EPA; one must love it as well. Only then can we all become pure, only then can we all become perfect. This is the job of America’s version of “1984”’s inner party: the Environmental Purity Agency.

[Dr. Marvin Folkertsma is a professor of political science and fellow for American studies with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City (Penn.) College. The author of several books, his latest release is a high-energy novel titled “The Thirteenth Commandment.”]


What the coal company propaganda does not mention is that the only reason coal appears to be economically viable is that the bulk of the costs associated with the obsolete, industrial revolution technology, is that the costs from using it are externalized. The coal company gets the profits. But the costs, acid rain, mercury contamination of lakes and rivers, CO2 pollution are all paid buy the people.

Coal companies understand this. Because if you want to discuss solar or wind, they will pull out the slide rule and the calculator and tell you all about the minute costs of solar and wind.

But they want to ignore the costs of their own products. The cost of pollution is real, and like the national debt, it may be invisible, to me, but it is real. All of the costs are real. And as the damage builds up in the environment, it is like unpaid debt. The bill is going to come due. It is just a question of when.

Solar and wind is the opposite. The environmental downsides are nil. But our economy does not value the benefit of the sun and the wind.

If the accounting is corrected, solar are net winners and coal is a net looser.


PTC Observer's picture

If you're argument is correct, then there should be no subsidies for any energy source. Let the market decide. If private property is damaged by any source of energy then the property owner(s) can bring suit in a court of law for redress against energy producers. A class action suit against coal producers should be the appropriate way that private property rights are protected.

If the accounting is correct, then the most efficient cost effective source of energy should win in the market place balanced against judicial review.

Let's face it, the only thing electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar and bio fuel run on is political graft corruption and payoffs to neo-capitalist cronies.

I am sure your accounting methods are based on EPA, Energy Department, Department of Commerce, etc. which develop government data in their own self interest and pass bureaucratic laws for their eternal perpetuation.

Now go out there jump in your internal combustion engine powered car, flip on the electrical switch powered by coal and buy those consumer goods produced by and from hydrocarbon polymers. You can't turn back 150 years of progress by regulation, unless of course you just want to rob people of their money by slight of hand through much much higher costs for energy.

I thought he/she was trying to be funny. Do they really think anyone would take that seriously?

PTC Observer's picture

Not joking at all, there are tons of people that believe this stuff. Sheeple that will believe anything the government puts out there, including their trumped up statistics and overstatements. Nearly every government "scientist" develops all the data to keep those grants coming, they act in their own self interest. Then there are those that sit at the government trough churning this stuff as "evidence" that we have a global climate change catastrophe.

They ignore the characters like Nobel Prize Al Gore that sells his radio stations to Middle East oil tycoons. However, they blindly follow them right off the cliff. Lemmings blindly following what they are told. That would be OK with me, but I object to the fact that they force others to jump with them by force of bureaucratic "law".

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