GOP Misses Point on EPA Enforcement

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Several conservative news outlets have noted with alarm that the EPA has helped send 185 people to prison for "environmental crimes" over the past year. What's worse than that? The reaction coming from many on the right, for starters:

Republican lawmakers were quick to criticize EPA for not taking any disciplinary action against contractors or employees involved in the Colorado mine spill. Lawmakers noted that while EPA drags its feet, a private company, like Duke, would have been fined quickly if it had spilled mine waste.
There are at least two things wrong with this response, and they both arise from the fact that many on the right do not seem to understand the proper purpose of government, which is to protect individual rights.

First, while the EPA certainly ought to be abolished for imposing improper and non-objective law, some of the actions it penalizes might well be crimes even under a proper government. Indeed, with the standard of law being the protection of individual rights rather than "the environment," some of those things might merit even harsher punishments. That is to say, the number of people imprisoned or the amount of time, neither alone nor together, are a valid criticism of this meddlesome agency outside the context of what the government ought to be doing. I think it would be safe to say that the EPA both unjustly imprisons the innocent and fails to punish the guilty enough.

Second, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. If the EPA is right to impose criminal penalties, why complain that it is enforcing the law? If it's wrong to do so, why complain that it isn't effective? While the EPA dragging its feet may indicate hypocrisy, corruption, or incompetence, any or all of these issues pale in comparison to the fact that the EPA exists at all. Until such time as the EPA can be abolished, we should be relieved that it has the poor image and self-limitations that will make it less able to tyrannize us. And we should concentrate on getting rid of it.

The public should stop tolerating politicians who seem to (?) wish for a more competent tyranny.

-- CAV

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