Regulation-weakening scam favors special interests…..has no economic benefit

A little background

Tom Carper (now Senator) was elected Governor of Delaware in 1992.   His agenda was pure “Chamber of Commerce” and he launched an across-the board attack on protection of the environment, and consumer protection, in Delaware. 

Part of this was a program to “streamline” regulations.  He set up committees, with token “environmental” participation, to gut air, water, and solid waste regulations.  He set out to weaken the  so-called Public Service Commission to give utilities a freer hand in reaching into our pockets.  He persuaded the late Governor Russ Peterson to go along with weakening the Coastal Zone Act, the signature accomplishment of Peterson’s one term as Governor.  (Delaware “enviros” went along with it too.)  A smooth skillful pol, whose doings were almost never meaningfully reported on in Delaware’s media–as Markell’s aren’t either–Carper was quite successful in laying the groundwork for a less healthy and less sustainable Delaware.

(Carper’s hatchet man on the environment was Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Christophe A. G. Tulou.  Ironically, twenty years later, Tulou, head of the District of Columbia Department of the Environment, was recently fired, apparently for not going along enthusiastically enough with a scheme to delay cleanup of the DC sewers.  Tulou didn’t return a call from Green Delaware.)

More of same

By now people should know that Delaware’s present governor, Jack Markell, has a similar corporations-first-people-last agenda.  On June 14, 2012, Markell issued Executive Order 36 to “Heads Of All State Departments And Agencies” on “Review and Reform of State Agency Regulations.”   It includes “WHEREAS, although State agency regulations are often necessary for the effective functioning of State government and the protection of public health, safety and the environment, we must strive to ensure that such regulations do not impose unnecessary burdens upon our residents, businesses and other organizations … citizens are often in the best position to identify outdated, duplicative or overly burdensome regulations ….”

The point of “regulations,” of course, is to control special interests and protect a “public” interest.  In a sense, to keep power in society from flipping completely into the hands of Comcast, Monsanto, DuPont, Delmarva Power, etc.  Markell, being a sort of Carper on Steroids, will never cease working to strengthen special interests and weaken the power of human citizens.  That’s what he is.

Do “regulations” help or hurt us?

Of course, we’ve all been subjected to years of anti-regulation propaganda–telling us that regulation kills jobs, damages the economy, blah, blah, blah.  Is this true?

People have studied whether US states having stronger environmental protections do better or worse economically than those more eager to roll over.  This isn’t easy to do quantitatively, but the most common answer seems to be that the “more environmental” states do as well or better.  Stephen N. Meyer of MIT, in “ The Economic Impact of Environmental Regulation,” Journal of Environmental Law & Practice, 1995, noted:

“In a sense, business is psychologically dependent on environmental subsidies: the ability to pollute or use common resources without charge. When more stringent environmental policies effectively reduce these subsides business feels betrayed. Strong environmental policies are perhaps more of a psychological burden than an economic concern. If the results described here are correct, state governments that succumb to the lure of environmental deregulation may make local business leaders happier, but the effect will not translate into more robust state economies or even more conducive business climate.”

It is easier to measure the consequences of deregulating electricity, which Delaware has done to it’s detriment, chief offenders being Tom Carper and Sen. Harris B. McDowell.  Here’s a summary of some information from the paper “ Does Deregulation Raise Electric Rates? A Cross Sectional Analysis,” William B. Marcus, 2011.  Marcus observes:

The theory behind deregulation is that competition would be salutary and would create greater efficiencies and reduce costs.

“The average rate in states that did not deregulate was 10.05 cents/kWh.  The average rate in states that were deregulated was 14.59 cents/kWh (41.1% higher)

“The 2010 rates in deregulated states rose 4.16 cents/kWh to 14.59 cents/kWh [from 1995].  The rates in nonderegulated states rose 2.68 cents/kWh to 10.06 cents/kWh. Costs increased by 1.35 cents/kWh more in states that deregulated than in states that did not deregulate.”

There is nothing wrong with reviewing regulations to see if they still make sense, and are adequate to protect us.  That would make sense.  But Markell’s focus, like Carper’s, is purely on weakening or eliminating regulations.  There is not a word in the Executive Order about identifying situations where new or stronger regulations are needed to deal with new, or newly recognized, or long-neglected, problems.

Example:  Sea levels are rising and parts–likely big parts–of low-lying Delaware will no longer be suitable for development because they will be under water.  Should land use regulations allow building on locations due to be flooded?  They do now, and maybe builders, who won’t be there to suffer the consequences, need to be stopped by regulation…?

Example:  Toxic coal ash is dumped all over the state in the guise of “beneficial reuse,”–backfill around foundations and suchlike.  Coal burners save money by not paying for proper disposal, but toxins from this practice will eventually get into our water and dumb down our kids.  Should this be allowed to continue?

Example:  Delaware regularly has bad air days (There have been about 6 Code Yellow bad air days since Dec. 14th.) yet there are no requirements that highly polluting activities shut down or reduce their belching on these days.  Rather, people are advised to stay indoors and breathe less.  Doesn’t this indicate a need for more regulation?

I could go on and on.  Examples are endless.

For more on this see The Cry Wolf Project and especially Corporate America’s seven basic lies to prevent health and safety safeguards.

Back to Markell’s Executive Order 36

Executive Order 36 calls for a “public comment period.”  This amounts to various agency press releases, “public hearings” in each of Delaware’s three counties, and a web form for submitting comments.

The DNREC is holding three hearings as follows:

  • Monday, Jan.7, 2013, 6 p.m. at the Sussex Central High School auditorium, 26026 Patriots Way, Georgetown, DE 19947
  • Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, 6 p.m., at the Delaware State University Bank of America Building, Longwood Auditorium, 1200 N. DuPont Highway, Dover, DE 19901
  • Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, 6 p.m., at the Carvel State Office Building, 2d Floor Auditorium / Mezzanine Level, 820 N. French Street, Wilmington, DE 1980

Similarly, the Delaware Department of Transportation (delDOT) is holding three hearings:

  • Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at Sussex Central High School, located at 26026 Patriot’s Way, Georgetown, DE 19947.
  • Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at Delaware State University, located in the Bank of America Building, Longwood Auditorium, 1200 N. DuPont Highway, Dover, DE 19901.
  • Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at the Carvel State Office Building, located at the Carvel Building, 2nd Floor Auditorium, 820 N. French St., Wilmington, DE 19801.

A press-release quote from the Secretary of Transportation:

“By signing Executive Order No. 36, Governor Markell has signified his commitment to eliminating unnecessary regulations,” said Secretary Bhatt. “However, the success of this effort depends on meaningful public input. If you have suggestions about specific regulations that you believe should be streamlined or eliminated, we want to hear from you.”

Note, again: No indication that DelDOT wants to hear from you about strengthening any regulations.

Doubtless other agencies are doing the same or have already done so.

The web form for comments is not identified in most of the releases we’ve seen.  It gives a choice of 13 state departments to comment on, and asks “Which regulation would you like to see changed or eliminated?  But, the public comments periods have already closed for nine of these, according to Exhibit A of the Executive Order.  Apparently, one can still comment, unit March 1, on:

  • Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC)
  • Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS)
  • State (Department of)
  • Technology & Information (DTI)
  • Transportation (DelDOT)

But also note this provision of the Order:
“3. If an Agency receives a comment or submission during the Public Input Period that would be more appropriately directed to another Agency, board or commission, the Agency receiving such comment or submission shall ensure that it is delivered to the appropriate party in a timely manner.”

ACTION:  Go to the hearings.  Go to the form and comment.

Put in your suggestions about new regulations needed, existing regulations needing to be strengthened, agencies needing stronger capabilities to represent the public interest, actions needed from state government to help the people of Delaware.  Do you think the minimum wage is high enough in Delaware?  Do you think the air is clean enough?  Do you think millionaires and corporations are paying their fair share of state taxes?  Do you think public transportation is adequate?  Do you think Delaware’s courts favor the people or special interests?  Should some county “turf” be taken over by the State?   Should some regulatory activities be given back to the Federal government?  Do you feel another nuclear reactor at Salem (Artificial Island) would be safe?  Do you trust the nuclear accident evacuation plans of the Delaware Division of Emergency Management?  Are civil liberties and freedom of speech adequately protected in Delaware?  Is the Delaware Freedom of Information Act getting the job done?  Adequately enforced?   Whatever you think government should be doing better….

Markell, true to his extreme-right-wing values, seems to feel that being employed making widgets or flipping burgers is good, but being employed by the State protecting the environment or caring for the disabled is bad, and harmful.  Private employment is good but public employment is bad….  Do you agree with this?

Tell Markell and his minions what you think and want!

Don’t let industrial propaganda control your thinking.

Alan Muller

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