Since February, the EPA has placed 175 surface coal mining projects under review and halted 79 of them because of their effects on surface water. For 30 years, the agency did not object to the air pollution caused when miners blast dirt into the air to expose coal deposits. Now, invoking the Clean Water Act, the agency is moving to block, at least for now, the projects when they sully nearby streams with the same pollutant.
The agency also has, for the first time, revoked a permit for a surface mine because the project in West Virginia could violate the Clean Water Act.
More broadly, the agency has announced there could be a link between greenhouse gas emissions and public health and welfare - a prelude to new mandates for corporations to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. The agency also agreed to allow California to regulate tailpipe emissions, increased fuel efficiency standards for cars for the first time in more than 25 years and won White House approval to rein in greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's largest polluters.
And that's just the beginning.
I remember a magazine article from long ago about Vietnamese refugees stuck for years in Thai refugee camps. The Thais had no use for them, and they were rightly afraid to move back to Vietnam. (Are there still such camps in Thailand?) One line from the article I remember crystalized the damage that this kind of dislocation could do. It said that there were working-age young men, born in exile, that had "never seen a water buffalo."
There are many skills that, once lost, are very difficult to recover. They are the kind of skills that are passed from journeymen to apprentices, not the kind learned from books and academic journals, and therefore not the kind with which Obama's minions have any experience. Once the opportunity to practice the skill is suppressed (or regulated away), the skill rapidly decays.
The EPA is almost certainly costing a lot of coal miners their jobs. These miners are not suddenly going to put on a shirt-and-tie and start doing office work; they will likely be stuck in the economic equivalent of a refugee camp. Further, they will lose the opportunity to pass their skills to the next generation of miners. And I'm pretty sure this is not the way of growing the economy out of the recession.
And what for? I've never lived anywhere in the U.S. (and I've lived a lot of places) where I couldn't drink the water or breathe the air. For whose benefit, exactly, is the EPA undertaking these regulations?