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Conservation Roundup: Expensive Pollution, Missing Shrimp, Feds Open More Land to Drilling

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October 19, 2011

Conservation Roundup: Expensive Pollution, Missing Shrimp, Feds Open More Land to Drilling

By Bob Marshall

Dirty Air Hurts the Economy, not just Fish, Wildlife and Sportsmen
The more industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress tell Americans they need dirtier air and water to "help the economy" the more the actual evidence shows what they're actually looking for is quicker profits - and the health of humans and critters be dammed.

The latest revelation comes via the paper "Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy" which shows current regulations on coal powered plants are actually too lenient because the ultimate costs to the U.S. economy in human and ecosystem damages is higher than the price we pay for that power.

This paper didn't appear in some lefty-environment magazine, but in the prestigious American Economic Review and was authored by three economists considered center-right. You can find the paper here.

A clear lay review is found here.

Why should sportsmen wade though a paper like this? Because pro-industry forces have mounted a full-court press in Congress pushing for a rollback of many regulations that have been key protectors of the fish and wildlife habitat that is the platform for all we cherish. Understanding these issues gives you the ammunition to fight back when someone says "we can't afford to protect the environment." The truth is, we can't afford not to.

Where's the Shrimp?
More troubling signs that the post-BP Gulf is an ailing giant: The white shrimp season has been disappointing or a bust in some section of southeast Louisiana, and more dead dolphins washing ashore on Gulf beaches.

This comes shortly after LSU researchers revealed the Gulf killifish, a minnow that occupies a key place in the food chain of Louisiana's coastal estuaries, was showing symptom of poisoning from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a known carcinogen that can result in total population collapses. 

While those stories have raised alarms, it's important to note that the slow shrimp season could be related to other environmental conditions - such as the spreading dead zone in the Gulf, - and that steady testing of Gulf fish since the blowout have turned up no levels of carbon pollution considered dangerous to human health.

But the entire region remains on edge because the long-term impact of the spill won't be known for years.

Little Snake Basin Given to Oil and Gas Industry
Western sportsmen are beginning to suspect the oil and gas lobby didn't lose much of its power when Barack Obama replaced George W. Bush. The latest example is the final Resource Management Plan (RMP) that the Bureau of Land Management released for Colorado's Little Snake Region: While the treasured Vermillion Valley was protected, oil and gas got 90 percent of the rest. The RMP puts habitat essential to the imperiled greater sage-grouse and Colorado’s largest and most prized game herds at risk.

Look for more on this in the days/weeks ahead. Colorado sportsmen put a lot of effort into this battle.

Comments (4)

Top Rated
All Comments
from CL3 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

The Fear is in the populous about Jobs Jobs Jobs. Companies that want our natural resources know this, and are using it to make tons of money. The Federal Government is borderline non-functional because of ideology and partisanship. People have been elected with so many promises due to these Big Businesses.

It truly is a perfect storm.

The question I have is; Are there people out there, in positions of power or decision making, that DO care about our legacy and how we leave the land?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from illinoisburt wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

The air polution piece is an interesting read but it does not make any final conclusions. The point of the paper is that some type of costs likely exist so government should make substantial additional investments in research to further develop this study model while expanding it for water, solid waste, and hazardous waste. In simple terms: our study requests grants to do more studies.

Not to say the basic premise is unsound. The paper's theme is under current regulatory schemes industry, and basically everyone else, are able to produce environmental damage which affects society without properly accounting and paying for it. If you take the assumed valuations as valid (which the paper states may not be correct), then many industries, especially energy and food production, should not operate since they cost society more in damages than they create in dollar sales.

While unaccounted environmental damage likely does exist, comparing it to sales production is just as misleading. There are very real and tanglible benefits beyond the simple outputs which would have be to added to any cost/benefit analysis. (The value of having plentiful available electricity and food likely are worth a lot to our society.)

The end results, as noted in the synopsis paper, are summed up nicely as let's make everyone (not just industry since we lay people create polution just by living) pay more for everything through some type of taxing system. I doubt that will turn out win-win.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

In 2006 60 pairs of bald eagles in NY fledged 3 chicks a piece. That's an indication of the quality of the habitat in NY. That indicates that bald eagle habitat is not merely good in NY, it indicates that the habitat is superb. Bald eagles were extinct east of the Mississippi River and South of the Canadian border as recently as 1970. When you cite increasing regulations as being in the interest of clean air and water it is well to remember that further increases in the quality of the environment will carry tremendous costs. There is no way in the world that a nation of over 300 million people are going to have a pristine environment. The environment that we have today is much better than I could have even dreamed of in the 1970's.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from illinoisburt wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Clean air, land, and water regulations have certainly produced excellent results. There is every reason to keep many of them and even add others to continue improving our environment. However there does need to be realistic balancing of regulation-benefit-costs. Superfund projects give great insight. Over 95% of polution is usually cleaned up very quickly and somewhat economically. The last 5% stretches out for decades at tremendous cost. Much the same applies just about all regulated industries. We should encourage reasonable mandates that give good protections, rather than crippling groups looking for perfect outcomes. Expensive speculative regulations like carbon restrictions which may or may not have positive future benefits with absolutely certain large negative current impact, are poor choices. They focus resources away from known productive efforts and encourage automatic denial or obstruction of all regulatory ideas.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from CL3 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

The Fear is in the populous about Jobs Jobs Jobs. Companies that want our natural resources know this, and are using it to make tons of money. The Federal Government is borderline non-functional because of ideology and partisanship. People have been elected with so many promises due to these Big Businesses.

It truly is a perfect storm.

The question I have is; Are there people out there, in positions of power or decision making, that DO care about our legacy and how we leave the land?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from illinoisburt wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

The air polution piece is an interesting read but it does not make any final conclusions. The point of the paper is that some type of costs likely exist so government should make substantial additional investments in research to further develop this study model while expanding it for water, solid waste, and hazardous waste. In simple terms: our study requests grants to do more studies.

Not to say the basic premise is unsound. The paper's theme is under current regulatory schemes industry, and basically everyone else, are able to produce environmental damage which affects society without properly accounting and paying for it. If you take the assumed valuations as valid (which the paper states may not be correct), then many industries, especially energy and food production, should not operate since they cost society more in damages than they create in dollar sales.

While unaccounted environmental damage likely does exist, comparing it to sales production is just as misleading. There are very real and tanglible benefits beyond the simple outputs which would have be to added to any cost/benefit analysis. (The value of having plentiful available electricity and food likely are worth a lot to our society.)

The end results, as noted in the synopsis paper, are summed up nicely as let's make everyone (not just industry since we lay people create polution just by living) pay more for everything through some type of taxing system. I doubt that will turn out win-win.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from illinoisburt wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Clean air, land, and water regulations have certainly produced excellent results. There is every reason to keep many of them and even add others to continue improving our environment. However there does need to be realistic balancing of regulation-benefit-costs. Superfund projects give great insight. Over 95% of polution is usually cleaned up very quickly and somewhat economically. The last 5% stretches out for decades at tremendous cost. Much the same applies just about all regulated industries. We should encourage reasonable mandates that give good protections, rather than crippling groups looking for perfect outcomes. Expensive speculative regulations like carbon restrictions which may or may not have positive future benefits with absolutely certain large negative current impact, are poor choices. They focus resources away from known productive efforts and encourage automatic denial or obstruction of all regulatory ideas.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

In 2006 60 pairs of bald eagles in NY fledged 3 chicks a piece. That's an indication of the quality of the habitat in NY. That indicates that bald eagle habitat is not merely good in NY, it indicates that the habitat is superb. Bald eagles were extinct east of the Mississippi River and South of the Canadian border as recently as 1970. When you cite increasing regulations as being in the interest of clean air and water it is well to remember that further increases in the quality of the environment will carry tremendous costs. There is no way in the world that a nation of over 300 million people are going to have a pristine environment. The environment that we have today is much better than I could have even dreamed of in the 1970's.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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