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Have Environmental Regulations Become Too Difficult To Follow?

May 05, 2019 10:55 PM EDT
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Recent efforts to reshape American environmental regulations have frustrated many businesses and activists alike, largely because arguments on both sides continue to be put forward concerning the strictness of existing environmental rules. For years, companies have been complaining that red tape stemming from environmental regulations are impeding their ability to make a profit, whereas activists argue that the realities of global climate change necessitate an eco-friendly outlook.

Have environmental regulations become too difficult to follow? A brief analysis of the existing state of American environmental policy shows that companies and activists alike have been confounded by regulations recently because they're grown to dizzying to follow.

Americans want the government to step in

Recent polling has made it abundantly clear that the American people want the government to step in and issue additional environmental regulations. According to Gallup's analysis, 62 percent of people say that the government is doing too little when it comes to the environment, the highest figure in well over a decade. This renewed public interest in going green is likely a direct result of the spotlight that's been shining on global climate change in recent years, as younger generations in particular are waking up to the reality that environmental protections are needed to maintain a desirable quality of life on earth.

Despite the strong public support for environmental regulations, however, it's becoming clear to both sides of the issue that existing regulations are written in an unsatisfactory way. Whether you're an environmentally-conscious activist pushing for greener regulations and the wider use of ecobags, or a business interested in pursuit of a more navigable market environment, the existing rules on how to deal with the environment are often complex, vague, and inscrutable unless you have an expensive team of lawyers to discern the truth.

Environmental laws are largely a mess right now because the legislative branch of the American government has ceded all regulatory authority to the executive branch; in other words, Congress has gotten lazy and punted the issue of environmental regulations to the office of the presidency. In recent years, this has meant a constant, never-ending series of reevaluations of American environmental regulations, with each of the past four presidents having initiated thorough overhauls of their predecessor's environmental rules.

It's becoming increasingly clear that Congress, not the president, should be leading the way on environmental regulations. Lawmakers need to step in and clear up hazy language that frustrates business owners and eco-activists alike because of how vague it is. Furthermore, given that the House of Representatives is (by its very nature) representative of the American people, Congress taking the reigns of environmental power means that the will of the people will finally be represented.

Strong yet clear regulations are needed

It's indisputable that strong environmental regulations are needed regardless of their stifling impact on the business community; after all, the planet is literally becoming inhospitable to life as we presently recognize it due to our immense CO2 emissions, which are growing worse and worse despite our efforts to go green. Despite the need for strong environmental regulations, however, we also need clear rules and guidelines that private actors in the commercial arena can understand and work with. There's no need to destroy businesses and needlessly cost people their jobs with poorly written and hazy regulations, after all.

The EPA needs a more transparent bureaucracy that can work more efficiently alongside of its congressional counterparts in an effort to save the planet and mold the country's environmental policies. With wildfires growing out of control along the Western coast, it's grown obvious we need a strong federal response to a changing climate yet cementing too much power in the presidency is a recipe for executive overreach and lackluster policy that's politically motivated instead of environmentally-conscious. More and more, climate policy should be dictated by congressional lawmakers who have clear, concise, and strong regulations in mind.

Environmental regulations have become too difficult for anyone to follow, with activists and businesses alike struggling to comprehend the dizzying makeup of America's existing regulatory framework for a greener future. While the realities of global climate change demand harsh action against polluters, environmental regulations must be clear and understandable if they're to be effective at all. By regaining control of the regulatory process, congress can help solve our environmental regulation mess.

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