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Reviving Cap and Trade – The Sunstein Also Rises

Posted on November 22 2010 12:00 pm

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So, what exactly are the state and local agencies being nudged towards?

Up until now, the authority of the EPA and the state and local agencies that do the bulk of environmental work in the field has been limited to “what comes out of the stack.” The EPA could limit emissions, in order to meet applicable standards, but it couldn’t get involved in economic decisions or process details. Those days are over. In the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA will be directing the state and local agencies that report to the feds to use “energy efficiency” as a permitting guideline. Jackson’s agency wants bureaucrats across the nation to begin dictating choices in equipment and the way that equipment is operated and maintained, and to turn the EPA’s judgment on the best way to operate a facility into permit conditions.

I know what you’re thinking, what could possibly be wrong with saddling an industry already knee-deep in regulations and regulators with yet another layer of bureaucratic micromanagement by the same kinds of people who’ve done such spectacular things with the housing industry and the car companies?

Any hopes that Trzupek will disabuse us of our skepticism are pretty much dashed a few paragraphs on.

There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, the men and women who write permits fall into one of two categories: a) kids a few years out of college who know very little about any industrial process, or b) older folks who couldn’t hack it in the private sector because they don’t have sufficient talent, enough intelligence or both. In either case, it is a constant struggle for industry to make permit writers understand the relatively simple issues that involve what’s coming out of a smokestack. Asking these same people to grasp what happens in an entire manufacturing or power producing process is a recipe for chaos.

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