Environmental issues require a common-sense approach

This letter is in response to a letter to the editor from Joellen Lundy, the president of the New Jersey Friends of Clearwater (“N.J. Promotes Profits, Pollution Over Citizens’ Health,” Tri-Town News, March 31).

I applaud Gov. Chris Christie’s actions to apply some common sense to the overburdening regulations and red tape that has become our government. Nobody wants the environment to be hurt, but that does not give overpaid, overzealous regulators the right to take away our freedom and our property.

Ms. Lundy’s letter is typical of many environmental complaints. It is filled with distortions, half truths, and scare tactics. The last sentence of Ms. Lundy’s letter states, “We do not need politically appointed autocrats: for about 224 years, a government with laws, rules, and regulations has worked just fine.”

The first problem is that they are not working fine. For 224 years politicians proudly proclaim new laws that they have passed, which are followed by (in the case of New Jersey, more than 70 agencies filled with bureaucrats making) new regulations. We just continue to add on federal, state, county and local rules by the tens of thousands.

When was the last time you heard a politician say, “I am going to get rid of conflicting regulations, duplicate regulations, outdated regulations or regulations that just don’t make sense.”

Ms. Lundy complains about the politically appointed autocrats. Who elected the bureaucrats who make all these regulations that control our lives? Gov. Christie’s new regulations do not allow the regulators to bypass laws specifically written to regulate the environment.

They allow somebody to make commonsense decisions regarding regulations made by bureaucrats that are conflicting, overburdening or not appropriate for the application without requiring the developer to spend a fortune and years in court litigating unnecessarily.

Books can be written about the unintended consequences of some environmental regulations and cries of dire consequences that proved to be just the opposite (example: the explosive growth of the caribou herds because of the heat from the Alaskan pipeline rather than causing their demise as predicted by the environmentalists).

In the state of Washington, loggers are subject to the regulations of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Ecology, the Forest Practices Board, the State Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and Watershed Analysis requirements.

As a result of these and other environmental regulations, loggers, farmers and ranchers have been forced to give up their businesses and sell the land. Who would buy this beautiful farmland and forest within commuting distance of Seattle? The developers. Now you have housing instead of farms and forests.

There is a great deal to be done with regard to the environment in our country and especially in the developing world, but it must be done with some common sense and practical application.

It cannot be at the expense of jobs, the economy, our freedom and the ability of poor nations to raise their standard of living. How much better would our standard of living be (and how much more money would we have to spend on cleaning up our environment, mass transportation, our parks, and our quality of life in general) if we did not send three quarters of a trillion dollars a year to our enemies in the Middle East for oil?

A significant percent of oil is used to make plastics and other products for our modern lifestyle, and wishful thinking will not end our dependence on oil. Even the most optimistic predictions will leave us dependent on oil for many years into the future. Too often the environmental organizations have a rigid no-growth, nocompromise answer to everything. In the long run, common-sense solutions with compromise on both sides will help the economy and the environment more than the conflicting “winner-take-all laws” we have now.

Steve Chodos Marlboro