The United States Chamber of Commerce, one of the most evil organizations in this land, and regressives throughout the nation, hate the Environmental Protection Agency more than almost any other federal entity. They condemn it for putting the environment, and it's health, ahead of the needs and wants of corporate America. They rail against its dictatorial ways and despotic regulations. The E.P.A. kills jobs, decimates communities and hurts the economy by retarding the ability of corporate America to grow and prosper. "Tree-huggers" are killing entire industries. Clean air and clean water laws are strangling the coal industry and wrecking entire states. The Endangered Species Act puts the rights of the snail darter ahead of the needs of logging companies and the towns they control. Since 1973, it has been a war funded by the Chamber and corporate America against those who believe we have an obligation to be good stewards of the land. (regressives forget it's even in the Bible) The ideal world would be one without any environmental rules, no regulations of particulate matter...no concerns about acid rain or green-house gases or climate change...a return to the Gilded Age of the 19th and early 20th centuries with a weak central government and no corporate oversight...they want exactly what has been true in China for the past 50 years.
The Wall Street Journal reports a new study in China claims poor environmental quality is costing them as much as 3% of their gross domestic product each year. In some parts of the nation, poor air and water quality are reducing life expectancy rates by as much as 5 years. They have discovered toxic chemicals and traces of heavy metals in their rice and milk. Foreign corporations are finding it difficult to recruit executives to live in large Chinese cities because of the fear and concerns they have over how the poor environmental conditions will affect their children and families. The new premier of China is announcing initiatives which will place environmental quality on an equal basis with economic growth when it comes to determining promotions of local government officials. For over 50 years, the Chinese government paid no attention to air quality, water quality and other environmental issues. Chinese corporations were only concerned with growing and did not have to worry about nettlesome regulations concerning the impact their industries had on the world around them. It was a regressive's wet dream of corporate freedom and environmental profligacy and now the chickens have come home to roost.
China is now experiencing the disaster that occurs after you allow corporations to do anything they please. In Shanghai, thousands of pig carcasses float to the surface of the harbor. The ground is so contaminated, rice grown in it springs up toxic. Milk is suspect because of what the cows eat. The air in cities like Beijing makes Los Angelis on its worst days look crystal clear. Children have to be kept inside on bad air days. Emphysema and asthma rates are skyrocketing. A nation with total dictatorial power is scrambling to deal with a restive population no longer willing to go along with the Faustian bargain of jobs at the expense of their and their children's health and welfare.
It is now possible to see what America would look like if the Chamber and its minions get their way and roll back regulations and convince Americans its a choice between clean air and water and their jobs. The Hudson River Basin would still be a cesspool of heavy metals dumped there by G.E. and other companies. The Cuyahoga River would still catch fire from a dropped match. The Potomac would be a smelly, polluted mess flowing through the nation's capital. In California there would be offshore drilling with all its attendant pollution. The California Aqueduct would be killing the Delta and its environs. Central Valley agribusiness would suck up all the water and spew out pollutants so toxic as to make even the Chinese blush. Los Angeles' air would be a toxic soup. The clarity of Lake Tahoe would be destroyed and old growth Redwood forests would be a thing of the past stolen by rapacious logging companies. The latest debate is over fracking. Once again the Chamber tells us its a choice between drilling and jobs...a choice between pumping chemically dangerous water into the ground and losing out on an energy bonanza...that pumping that water into the ground might cause some earthquakes but its a little price to pay for progress...and many communities across this land are making the deal and will find themselves, like Chinese peasants, wondering what to do for their children and communities.
Regressives get apoplectic whenever you mention government regulations and they go into shock when you defend environmental rules designed to protect the future from their greedy hands. However, the Chinese are waking up to the fool's gold which is unrestricted corporate power and the economic benefits they claim, versus the value of clean air and water and a world in which we try to preserve what we have. (the word is conserve...the root of the word conservative) It's a lesson we should take to heart.
(Oh, and the same lesson is there to be learned about climate change and greenhouse gases...I wonder if we will learn it in time?)