copied from http://www.thenewamerican.com which is linked to http://www.jbs.org, the site for The John Birch Society.This is a must-read article, containing information that will affect all our lives. Nothing in our law system is unchangeable. If American citizens realize that departments such as the NEA, or the Dept. of Education in Washington, D.C., or the EPA should be abolished, and that they have no foundation in our U.S. Constitution, then we need to begin doing what we can, as registered voters, as U.S. citizens, to "do the right thing." -- Yeshua Rhema Kasa blog owner. Please read with discernment, and pray. God will be listening! He is always listening to His children!
By: William F. Jasper (not verified)
August 6, 2007
Air pollution. Water pollution. Soil pollution. Noise pollution. Pesticides. Toxins. Chemical residues. Thankfully, we have the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect us against these dangers. Right?
Without the EPA regulators and federal legislation (Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, etc.), we’d be drowning in carcinogens, suffocating in smog, and suffering health- and life-threatening bombardment from innumerable sources. At least, it is probably fair to say, that is the perception of many Americans who are not old enough to have known (or who are too old to remember) LBEPA, life before EPA.
The EPA was created by an Executive Order of President Richard Nixon on December 2, 1970, following his signing of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the Clean Air Amendments Act of 1970. These three actions by President Nixon signaled a profound change in environmental policy in the United States, dramatically shifting regulatory powers from the states and local communities to a new federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., one that would burgeon spectacularly into a sprawling leviathan of 20,000 employees exercising unprecedented powers over virtually every aspect of our everyday lives.
Dr. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who passed away in November 2006, shocked and angered many environmentalists with his suggestion that the EPA should be abolished. Constitutionalist scholar/author/commentator Dan Smoot and other conservatives and constitutionalists had been advocating abolition of the agency ever since its creation. But these advocates were (and are) usually dismissed as cranks who would set back the cause of environmental health and safety to the Dark Ages.
In recent years, however, the wisdom of granting such wide-ranging power to federal bureaucrats has been called into question by many scientists and economists — and even by environmental activists concerned over environmental damage caused by the EPA model of central planning.
The MTBE debacle was the wake-up call for many erstwhile EPA supporters. That ongoing scandal and its costly environmental remediation came about as a result of the agency’s 1990 mandate that oxygenates such as MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) be added to fuels to reduce air pollution. Oil companies invested $7 billion retrofitting refineries to produce the mandated additive and, of course, consumers spent billions of dollars more for the resulting increased cost of fuel. However, a study by the National Research Council in 1999 found that MTBE gas reformulation had had almost negligible impact on reducing vehicle pollution emissions. But wasting billions of dollars for no appreciable environmental or health benefit is not the worst of it.
As most of the American public is now aware, MTBE has turned out to be a very problematic substance. Gasoline, if spilled or leaked, does not spread far and quickly breaks down. MTBE, on the other hand, is highly soluble in water and persists for a long time. Unfortunately, it has made its way into the groundwater of thousands of cities and communities.
How serious a health threat do MTBE levels pose to humans, livestock, pets, fish, and wildlife? That is still being debated in scientific circles. It may turn out not to be serious, after all, even though the chemical ruins the taste of the contaminated water. One thing is certain, however; if a private company or a state or local agency had caused even a tiny fraction of the damage that the EPA has caused through its MTBE fiasco, it would be facing serious punitive damages and civil penalties, if not criminal charges.
The EPA regularly levies onerous sanctions on companies, farmers, and local communities for what Professor Carl Winters, one of the nation’s leading food toxicologists, calls “super-exaggerated risks.” But the EPA bureaucracy contaminates the water supply of much of the country and then continues blithely on its way. Apparently unaccountable, its presumed moral authority as the guardian of America’s health and environmental quality remains seemingly undiminished in the eyes of a risk-averse public that has become conditioned to look to Washington for protection from an endless tsunami of ecological “crises.”
But the MTBE scandal is far from the only debacle of the EPA’s own making. Some of the EPA’s own leading scientists have blistered the agency with withering condemnation. “Environmental actions based on poor science waste the nation’s resources that could be spent effectively protecting public health and the environment,” says veteran EPA microbiologist David Lewis. “In the end, EPA’s scientifically unsound regulations will only exacerbate the very problems they aim to solve and create new problems for future generations.”
Professor Bruce N. Ames, creator of the standard Ames Test for carcinogens and director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California at Berkeley, has been highly critical of the EPA’s continued use of long-discredited high-dose tests in rats that are useless in predicting infinitely smaller doses in humans. Dr. Ames, like many other experts in the field, has repeatedly pointed out that the EPA’s insistence on spending hundreds of billions of dollars on ridiculously small risks perversely misdirects vital economic resources that should be spent on far more serious threats to health and safety. The result is that EPA policies are costing lives.
Law professor David Schoenbrod was one of the young activist attorneys from Yale University who helped launch both the EPA and the radical Natural Resources Defense Council. He now sees those entities as largely harmful and concerned with accruing political power, not protecting the environment. Dr. Schoenbrod thinks “the federal government should regulate only the very small fraction of [pollutants] that states cannot regulate on their own without hurting other states or other countries.”
Bigger Is Not Better
Professor Schoenbrod and many others who have been similarly involved in the regulatory process are coming to the conclusion that the central planning model of caring for human health and safety and environmental quality is not the efficient, salutary mechanism they had once thought. In fact, it has proven to be inimical to those goals. What, then, is the answer? How can we reasonably protect individuals and human society from genuine health threats and the natural environment from destructive practices?
Many Americans will be relieved to discover that this is not an insoluble dilemma. In fact, the good news is we are much more likely to achieve those goals, and at a fraction of the current cost, by returning to the constitutional federalism of an earlier era. There is an additional bonus: by devolving regulatory control to constitutionally appropriate state and local levels, we will restore vital checks and balances that are essential to sustainable liberty and that have been stripped away or dangerously weakened over the past four decades.
Although environmentalists usually credit the EPA with the improvements in our air quality, the fact is, abundant evidence attests that air quality in the United States has been steadily improving since the 1950s, due to technological advances and state and local air-pollution standards targeting smoke, soot, and other emissions. Dr. Indur M. Goklany, who has worked for the Interior Department and the EPA and was in charge of technical assessment for the National Commission on Air Quality, has noted:
By the time the Clean Air Amendments of 1970 had federalized air pollution control, smoke had been conquered in most urban areas, and air quality was improving substantially in the most polluted areas — particularly for the very pollutants perceived to be causing the worst problems.
The same can be said for most other pollution concerns. From a practical standpoint, there is no sound reason to expect that Washington knows best or that the federal government can more effectively and efficiently deal with environmental matters. This is evident not only from a survey of the EPA’s many disastrous policies, but from the record of other federal agencies that deal with the environment.
The U.S. Forest Service’s mismanagement of its 193 million acres of forestland has been an ongoing scandal for decades. In 1999, a federal General Accounting Office study entitled Catastrophic Wildfire Threats warned that “39 million acres on national forests in the interior West are at high risk of catastrophic wildfire” due to practices that have resulted in unnatural and excessive tree density, massive buildup of undergrowth, disease, and insect infestation. Since then, the estimated at-risk forestland in our national forests has increased by another 31 million acres. Every year, huge wildfires destroy millions of acres of forest and wildlife habitat and send more pollution and “greenhouse gases” into our air than all of our factories combined. By comparison, state and private forestlands are much healthier, sustain proportionately less wildfire damage, and provide greater economic return to taxpayers and local communities.
Likewise, the federal Bureau of Land Management, with 258 million acres — around 13 percent of our national land surface — has been charged in internal and independent audits (Inspector General and General Accounting Office) with rangeland and forest mismanagement, corrupt land swaps with developers, and serious environmental degradation. Again, side-by-side comparisons show that state lands and private land owners usually do a better job.
The National Park Service’s 84 million acres include national jewels such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite parks. Unfortunately, congressional and independent studies (Congressional Research Service, General Accounting Office, Inspector General) have shown time and again that NPS mismanagement and neglect have put many of these treasures in jeopardy. Yet Congress continues to add even more scenic wonders to its supposed “protective” custody.
A major problem confronting the managers of what are euphemistically called the federal “public lands” — although the “public” is increasingly excluded from access to said lands — is the shear size of these massive holdings, combined with the usual problems of bureaucracy and the remote distance of policymakers in Washington. However, even more important is that the transfer of control over these lands to the feds, like the transfer to the EPA of environmental regulation, short-circuited a very important shield that protected not only the environment but also the authority of state and local governments, as well as private property rights. As Harvard law professor Harold Berman noted in Talks on American Law, a critical element in the founding of our Republic “was the reception of the English common law … together with certain English statutes.”
Common law, write Roger E. Meiners and Bruce Yandle in their 1998 study The Common Law: How It Protects the Environment, “reflected the view that free people must take responsibility for their actions and must be held responsible for their actions, with the courts providing an important avenue for holding them accountable. Many state constitutions expressly adopted the English common law.”
“Today, in contrast,” they note, “law is mostly regulatory management. Citizens and their lawyers negotiate, arbitrate, and litigate with the many arms of the pervasive regulatory state. This arrangement is fundamentally different from the founders’ understanding of the relationship between the people and their government.”
Meiners and Yandle observe:
Long ago, before the terminology of environmental degradation evolved and the regulatory machinery began to determine what constitutes illegal pollution, people knew that they and their property could suffer from noxious pollutants. Such pollution was offensive; sometimes it injured people’s health; and sometimes it damaged property values. The protection against this invasion came primarily through legal actions for trespass and nuisance. Those who allowed something noxious to escape their control and invade the property of others could be held accountable for their actions through private litigation. (In many cases, either trespass or nuisance could apply, since both actions were often involved when pollution reached others’ property.)
The authors note that “common-law protection of water does not apply only to those who own property that abuts a waterway but to all who have a right to use the water, for purposes including recreation.”
But, surely, such an antiquated system could not provide adequate environmental protection against the depredations of rapacious commercial interests and huge multi-national corporations. Actually, it can. As Meiners and Yandle show from their survey of case law from the past two centuries, courts have consistently upheld the property rights of farmers, small communities, and small land owners against the environmental pollution caused to surface water, ground water, and air caused by Big Government and Big Business.
“The record of common-law cases is clear: It imposes tough liability on those who damage the environment. Yes, mistakes are made. Sometimes liability is imposed when it should not be; sometimes damages assessed are too high; sometimes liability is not imposed when it should be. But it seems far better for such individual mistakes to be made (some of which are rectified on appeal) than for politically inspired policies to impose costs on all.”
“Why,” they ask, “if environmental quality is the goal, was the common law abandoned in favor of central planning and political control? Political control cannot be based on evidence of superior performance by government bodies. The evidence continues to mount that governments are poor environmental stewards and that government regulation is wasteful, cumbersome, and sometimes ineffective.”
Prof. Schoenbrod provides a chilling admission in this regard. “As my generation of petulant young elitists came to understand the ways of power, we learned the trick of using the magic wand of idealism to obtain power,” he said in a 1999 essay, entitled “Legislating Ideals.”
The Clean Air Act and many other statutes modeled on it, he says, “allow a federal agency to run major segments of civil society on quasi-military lines running from Congress down through the EPA to states and ultimately the regulated entities.... The point of this system is power, not environmental quality.”
It is this will to acquire and exercise power, which is both dangerous to liberty as well as destructive of environmental quality, that America’s Founders so laboriously worked to stymie, and so ingeniously succeeded in accomplishing with the Constitution’s intricate system of checks and balances. One of the most important features of that system is the principle of federalism, which strictly limits the powers delegated to the national government. It is stated very eloquently by James Madison in essay #45 of The Federalist Papers:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.... The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
President Nixon had no constitutional authority to create the EPA; it was an act of usurpation, an illegal act that the Founders condemned in no uncertain terms. Congress had (and has) no authority to regulate pollution in the individual states; that is the purview of state and local governments. Hence, the ever expanding flood of federal environmental laws and regulations are, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “unauthoritative, void and of no force.”
If government action truly is required to deal with a matter that is not amenable to private solution, the American citizen must always ask: what level of government (local, state, or federal) and what branch of government (legislative, executive, or judicial) is the proper place to seek remedy? And he must then resist efforts by those who would subvert the constitutional order through false solutions that evade the rule of law.
George Washington addressed this vitally important issue in his farewell to the American people, noting:
If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.
It is long past time for the American people to stop the usurpations of power in the name of protecting the environment. It is vital that we do so to protect our freedoms as well as to protect the environment.
( I removed several advertisements and links from this webpage, to save space. This article is copied in its entirety, from http://www.thenewamerican.com -- Yeshua Rhema Kasa blog owner )
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