BY SHARON MARTIN
If you ask a leading question, you’ll probably get the answer you are looking for.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, recently sent letters to his constituents, ranging from pharmaceutical companies to the National Association of Manufacturers, asking them what regulations hindered job growth in their industries. He sent 150 letters, and the results have been predictable.
According to the New York Times, financial companies complained of “price controls on debit card transactions.” Refiners, power generators, and manufacturers cited the Clean Air Act as a growth blocker.
Rep. Issa believes that corporations and business have been unfairly targeted by the current administration. He pointed out the new regulation on effluent discharges from construction sites. The new regulations, he wrote, “will cost $810.8 million annually resulting in the closure of 147 construction firms and the loss of 7,257 jobs.”
So, what are effluent discharges, and why should we care? From this layperson’s view, it appears that the EPA is asking construction companies to limit the amount of mud they wash from their construction sites into storm drains. Beginning in August, 2011, this regulation applies to construction projects that cover more than 20 acres.
If the regulation is repealed, who pays for the cleanup when storm drains become filled with silt and overflow? Who covers flood damages? Another question: How do you determine how many jobs this regulation will cost?
As a baby boomer who has suffered mightily from the deregulation of the mortgage industry and the resulting stock market slide, I’m not sure why anyone thinks massive deregulation is a good thing. Regulations aren’t just made up out of thin air and fairy dust. Every one of them comes from a situation – children diagnosed with asthma, outbreaks of E. coli, fish dying in polluted streams.
Ask parents whose children have been sickened by dirty air how they feel about the Clean Air Act. Balance their responses with those from the energy and refining industries. Ask families of coal miners who have died or become sick for want of safety regulations how they feel about your letters.
We have to balance costs and outcomes. Businesses who act ethically and environmentally may have to pass the cost of doing business on to consumers. Consumers would, I believe, prefer to pay higher prices than be harmed by corporate practices. Construction costs might be slightly higher, but families downhill from construction sites want limits on effluent discharges.
Balance, Mr. Issa. Your constituency isn’t just those 150 industries to whom you sent letters. Real people are protected by the regulations you’d like to see repealed.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer