The PJ Tatler

The EPA and 'Sustainable Development'

Just like any other third world country, the US is about to experiment with the notion of “sustainable development.” It will come courtesy of the EPA, and if you like statism, eco-freaky ideas, anti-business regulation, and fewer people to worry about, sustainable development is for you.

The idea is to reduce economic activity now so that future generations can also share in the scarcity. I’m not kidding. Throw the idea of a free market out the window and substitute planned and demand economy.

It’s for a good cause, of course. Fox News reports:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to change how it analyzes problems and makes decisions, in a way that will give it vastly expanded power to regulate businesses, communities and ecosystems in the name of “sustainable development,” the centerpiece of a global United Nations conference slated for Rio de Janeiro next June.

The major focus of the EPA thinking is a weighty study the agency commissioned last year from the National Academies of Science. Published in August, the study, entitled “Sustainability and the U.S. EPA,” cost nearly $700,000 and involved a team of a dozen outside experts and about half as many National Academies staff.

Its aim: how to integrate sustainability “as one of the key drivers within the regulatory responsibilities of EPA.” The panel who wrote the study declares part of its job to be “providing guidance to EPA on how it might implement its existing statutory authority to contribute more fully to a more sustainable-development trajectory for the United States.”

Madness. Giving bureaucrats already besotted with power this kind of authority is like giving a drunk a fifth of Chivas Regal and they keys to your Porsche.

Jackson compared the new approach, it would articulate to “the difference between treating disease and pursuing wellness.” It was, she said, “a new opportunity to show how environmentally protective and sustainable we can be,” and would affect “every aspect” of EPA’s work.

According to the study itself, the adoption of the new “sustainability framework” will make the EPA more “anticipatory” in its approach to environmental issues, broaden its focus to include both social and economic as well as environmental “pillars,” and “strengthen EPA as an organization and a leader in the nation’s progress toward a sustainable future.”

Whatever EPA does with its suggestions, the study emphasizes, will be “discretionary.” But the study urges EPA to “create a new culture among all EPA employees,” and hire an array of new experts in order to bring the sustainability focus to every corner of the agency and its operations. Changes will move faster “as EPA’s intentions and goals in sustainability become clear to employees,” the study says.

The only way to achieve sustainable development in the US is to shrink the economy. Putting a cap on energy use, for instance, or limiting  the use of raw materials would be ways to achieve SD but also alter the economy for the worse. Limiting logging, preventing the development of new oil fields, and limiting coal use are already being done by the government. Imagine what it will do with statutory authority to further limit economic activity.

All for a good cause, of course.