Even though Iron Eyes Cody, the Crying Indian, was a fake, he had a point: America in the 60's had become a nasty place. You used to see people throw all kinds of litter out of their cars; nowadays the only socially-acceptable forms of automotive litter are cigarette butts and dirty diapers. No longer do babbling brooks foam from phosphates. Emissions from cars and coal plants are cleaner, making it easier for all of us to breathe. For this, the EPA deserves at least some of the credit.
But the EPA has become the type-section for bureaucratic mission creep. Not content with a reasonable balance between economic growth and environmental impact, the EPA has followed the First Commandment of Bureaucracies: Expand the Mission. Or, rather, Expand the Budget by Expanding the Mission.
It would be one thing if they confined themselves to regulating dangerous pollutants and species that would actually be missed if extinct. Instead, the environmental extremists within the agency have set their sights on eliminating any human activity that has a measurable impact on the natural environment, no matter how negligible.
They have declared the polar bear "threatened", with the polar bear population is at its maximum in recent history, in order to block any commercial development of the North Slope of Alaska, including offshore.
Carbon dioxide, essential for life on our planet, has been declared a dangerous pollutant, subject to EPA regulation.
Now, in the ultimate reductio ad absurdum, the EPA is blocking new coal permits in Appalachian Coal Country because of supposed negative impact on the population of mayflies.From Investors' Business Daily comes this:
Trading Jobs For Bugs In Coal Country
Mayflies are, by scientific classification, not long for this world. They belong to the order Ephemeroptera which means, roughly, "short lived, winged creatures." In their adult form they live for a day. During that day, the Appalachian mayfly's primary function seems to be: Annoy hikers.
They may soon serve a second, far more annoying function if President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has its way. Emboldened by Obama's campaign pledge to "bankrupt" coal, EPA regulators have been aggressive of late. Bug protection may well give them an excuse to wreck coal mining in Appalachia.
Why? Because recent research suggests that discharge into streams of dissolved solids from surface coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains diminishes mayfly populations. That doesn't necessarily mean fewer bugs overall.
Interestingly, other research suggests that the total number of insects in affected streams is not substantially reduced. Hardier insect populations thrive in the absence of mayflies. Yet the EPA alleges that smaller mayfly populations are an "impairment" of "water quality."
The average American supports the EPA, because "we all want a cleaner environment" and they have been convinced by the popular media (60 Minutes, Silkwood, The China Syndrome, and the entire oeuvre of environmental genius Steven Seagall, to name a few examples) that corporations somehow think they make more money by killing people.
What people can't see is the hidden cost of all this regulation. It would be interesting to see how much more people would be willing to pay in their monthly electric bill to Save the Mayfly!
H/T The Cooler Heads Digest, Competitive Enterprise Institute