CAN THE ENVIRONMENT SURVIVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS?

Among the world's most challenging environmental problems is the deplorable state of political discussion about environmental issues.

A group of state legislators last month aggravated this subtle but dangerous form of pollution.

Few environmental problems can survive concentrated human concern, reasoned debate, judicious application of best available science, and integration of the effort with sound economic principles.

Environmental policy-making, however, is degenerating into the argumentative equivalent of a toxic waste dump-a mire of idiotic moralizing and junk science spouted by activists and politicians devoid of fact.

Environmentally, the pattern is self-destructive. History is clear that environmental values reach their highest levels where economies flourish. They slump to their lowest levels where economies stagnate. Environmentalism must at some point mature into the realization that the business institutions it regularly demonizes are essential to prosperity and, by association, improvement in environmental conditions. Trashing business thus can be tantamount to trashing the environment.

The National Conference of State Legislators polluted the air with its August resolution calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency to neither weaken nor delay a draconian rule on sulfur in diesel fuel (OGJ Online, Aug. 30, 2001).

"NCSL strongly supports EPA's engine and fuel standards and opposes efforts to either delay or weaken the fuel sulfur standard or delay or weaken achievement of the engine emission standards," the resolution said.

Nonsense.

The standard in question, under legal challenge from the American Petroleum Institute and National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, represents a last-minute smear by the radicals who ran EPA in the administration of former President Bill Clinton.

The industry supported a 90% reduction in the average sulfur content of diesel fuel. EPA mandated a 97% cut, although the environmental differences between the two levels are nil.

The economic, however, are huge. The deeper cut requires much more investment and catalyst development. It is significantly more costly to refiners and consumers-and might not be achievable in concert with sulfur cuts in gasoline-but insignificantly different in terms of environmental performance.

Imposing the 97% reduction amounted to regulatory caprice. The issue is whether to repair the damage and restore EPA's credibility, not whether adopting the 90% cut would "weaken" the standard. It wouldn't.

Before politicians spout off about environment, they should know what they're talking about. The state lawmakers obviously do not, however much their resolution received cheers from environmental groups interested mostly in impoverishing refiners.

One of the biggest threats that the environment faces is environmental politics conducted this way. It's time for politics to grow up.

Related Articles

DOI proposes Arctic-specific drilling regulations for Alaska OCS

02/20/2015 The US Department of the Interior proposed regulations to ensure that oil and gas exploration on the US Arctic Continental Shelf occur safely and r...

More pragmatism urged for developing Eastern Mediterranean gas

02/20/2015 Eastern Mediterranean nations should abandon inflated expectations and adopt more realistic approaches to developing their natural gas resources, s...

Murkowski, Heitkamp lead Senate call for crude exports to Mexico

02/18/2015 US Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) led a coalition asking US Sec. of Commerce Penny Pritzker in a Feb. 18 letter to encour...

Pemex cuts budget by $4 billion

02/18/2015 The board of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has approved a $4-billion budget reduction for 2015, an 11.5% decrease compared with the previous expendit...

US should rework Azerbaijan relations carefully, House panel told

02/18/2015 The US should pursue relations with Azerbaijan that recognize its strategic importance as an energy supplier to countries farther west but do not i...

Comments sought on Pinedale Anticline gas field noise report

02/18/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Pinedale Anticline Project Office (PAPO) is seeking public comments on a 2014 acoustic noise report on sound lev...

Ohio Supreme Court rules against municipality in oil and gas case

02/17/2015 The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the city of Munroe Falls cannot impose local drilling and zoning ordinances that conflict with Ohio state law reg...

Uganda taps Russian firm to build country’s first refinery

02/17/2015 The government of Uganda has selected a consortium led by Russia’s RT Global Resources, Moscow, as its first choice to construct the country’s firs...

Montana governor wants PHMSA to beef up pipeline enforcement in state

02/17/2015 Citing a Jan. 17 leak of 1,200 bbl of crude oil from a ruptured pipeline in eastern Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) asked US Sec. of Transportation...
White Papers

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...
Available Webcasts


Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

When Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected