“We put people first when our air, water, natural resources are preserved and enhanced for everyone’s use and enjoyment. We put people first when our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren inherit the blessings of the land, sky and water from us. Their future welfare is our obligation.”
Environmental policy can be quite simple. Don’t put pollutants into the air for others to breathe. Don’t put contaminants into water for those downstream to drink. Go back to having DNR run by an independent Secretary appointed by the Natural Resources Board rather than a Secretary appointed by the Governor. Restore authority to the Conservation Congress.
Rehire all the scientists who have been fired. Put them to work addressing problems like climate change and chronic wasting disease. Monitor our groundwater across the state. Hire enough employees to monitor and enforce our regulations. Let scientists share their research on our state websites.
One of the goals for our state’s environmental policy should be what economists call “internalizing costs”. All of the costs associated with producing a product or engaging in an activity should be borne by the person or company producing the product or doing the activity. We are all taught as children that we should clean up our own mess, wash our own dishes, make our own beds. We should expect nothing less from all those who live, work or run businesses in our communities.
Sand mines shouldn’t release small particles for neighbors to breathe. They shouldn’t put arsenic into the ground water that kills the horse on the farm next door. High capacity wells shouldn’t make surrounding wells dry. CAFOs shouldn’t contaminate the groundwater with nitrates and e. coli.
We don’t avoid costs by not cleaning up – we just shift them. Energy companies may have saved money by not limiting emissions on coal fired power plants 30 years ago. But, we are paying a lot more today rebuilding communities in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico devastated by the increasingly violent storms associated with climate change.
It’s time to stop shifting costs. Mother Nature is already overburdened.
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