American environmental regulation

The industry has been slapped with violation notices over the years, according to published reports. Many of the violations involve contaminated waterways that received sand, sediment, and dirt after heavy rains.

It’s a violation to allow sand into a river.

Sigh.

43 thoughts on “American environmental regulation”

  1. It doesn’t seem to be a particularly unreasonable restriction. Given the arguments about rivers needing to be dredged in the aftermath of recent flooding incidents, it would seem a sensible way of avoiding the problem by keeping the unwanted material from being in the rivers in the first place.

  2. Penalising those who knowingly silt up waterways is one thing.

    Describing it as pollution, with all the propaganda value of that word, is another thing entirely.

  3. It’s on a par with the US insistence that atmospheric CO2 – necessary for all forms of plant life (and all other forms of life that eat plants) – is a pollutant.

    FFS

  4. @Paul,

    What you forget is that the libertardian orthodoxy that negative externalities are somebody else’s problem. And that all regulations are evil. My right to gunge up your waterway trumps your right to have a non-gunged waterway. Because.

  5. Because Bullshit Biggie.

    Or are you-filled by osmosis with Teutonic genius– the man who can keep soil etc out of rivers. When most rivers run between banks made of earth anyway?

    After all you saved Japan from nuclear meltdown and sinking into the -radioactive-sea.

  6. The particular incident I found by following the link was the St Croix River spill. Which involved a lot of fine sand. It’s reasonable to have regulations against discharging anything into a river which might kill the wildlife.

  7. It’s reasonable to have regulations against discharging anything into a river which might kill the wildlife.

    This is probably how it works in the USA, but it is not a sensible way of doing it: as with all tick-box approaches, it relies on the list to be complete. A better method is to place the onus on the company to carry out a proper assessment of the environmental impact of discharging things into the river, and set up a monitoring program. That way the “might kill the wildlife” isn’t a concern.

  8. And sand –apart from tons dropping on them in one place–harms wildlife how exactly? It settles to the bottom anyway after a short period of time–and the bottom IS sand albeit mixed with organic matter. Hardly toxic poison.

    Eco bullshit.

  9. In 1997 I was responsible for having 3 bore holes drilled in West Yorkshire to replace an old one that had stopped producing. The new ones were drilled within 30 yards of the old one and close to a stream. At one point a small quantity of the drilling tailings mixed with water from the new boreholes (that were artesian) drained into the stream. One of the local residents complained to the Environment Agency that the drillers were polluting the stream. We were told in no uncertain terms that if this happened again the hand of God would smite us from upon high. We were polluting a stream with rock and water from the same source as the stream was made from! Go figure.

  10. There are pictures of the St Croix River discharge on the internet. It wasn’t a small amount of sand.

    And it was an accident (apparently a berm was leaking without the company’s having realised). So Tim N’s comment about a monitoring program is not in this case to the point.

    If after checking the facts you think the regulation should not have been applied in this case, I’d be interested to hear why not.

  11. “gave Republican Governor Scott Walker $8,100 over the last few years.”

    While Walker is one of the biggest tools we have in government this seems like a rather small amount to be focused on.

    My uncle’s sand mine is a nice bit of newly created wetlands, at least where he’s dug out below the waterline. I would guess that being 50(~80km) miles from a coal mine is worse than being on a backhoe digging sand. Granted it is in Michigan instead of Wisconsin and is located on his personal hunting property.

  12. If after checking the facts you think the regulation should not have been applied in this case, I’d be interested to hear why not.

    It’s not about whether a regulation should have applied, it’s whether there should be a regulation saying “sand cannot be discharged into the water”. Some sand might be perfectly fine to discharge into the water; change the type or the quantity and it might not. And it this would depend on where in the river it is going, the effect will change depending on the location, season, and a few other factors. Regulations cannot possibly capture this sort of thing for every tract of river and every type of sand, and so the regulation ought to be one of placing a requirement on the operating company to demonstrate that its operations (both routine and unexpected events like accidents) will either not impact the environment or the impact will be kept as low as reasonably practicable.

    So in the St Croix river case, for the company to have been negligent they would either have had to overlook the possibility of their being a spill which went onto cause damage, or not to fully appreciate the impact such a spill would have on the river. If the sand didn’t have much of an impact, there’s not much the company has done wrong but they’d look a lot better if they’d considered it and reached this conclusion before the accident.

  13. And it was an accident (apparently a berm was leaking without the company’s having realised). So Tim N’s comment about a monitoring program is not in this case to the point.

    Actually, it is very much to the point: monitoring programmes are partly set up to capture this very thing, a leak which has gone undetected. It’s why oil companies do routine air and water quality monitoring around their sites even if they don’t intend to discharge.

  14. TN nails it perfectly.
    A pollutant is a substance in the wrong place in the wrong quantity and at the wrong time. Only monitoring will tell us what is wrong in particular circumstances. So, in certain circumstances, sand could be a pollutant.

  15. The only reason anyone is worried about sand mining is that it’s used for eeeeeeevil, Gaia-killing hydraulic fracturing. In the grand scheme of environmental issues, this one is trivial beyond belief. It’s nowhere near as harmful as, say, rare earth mineral mining in China.

  16. Too much fuss made about this eco stuff of you ask me. Sure, some species are dying out but I hear we are discovering new species all the time in rain forests so it balances out. Besides, the earth only has to last another 50 years at most and I’ll be done with it.

  17. Yes but that is in China. Once pollution is exported it virtually ceases to exist. Image is everything, reality doesn’t matter.

  18. Let me give you an idea of how crazy it gets.

    Early 2000’s, I’m stationed in Connecticut as a submarine base. It snows in CT. Its permissable for the snow to melt and enter the river through the flood drains or by running off the top of the subs – its is not permissable to shovel it frozen from the tops of the subs into the river.

    You can’t suck up river water and allow it to re-enter the river – even if it never touches anything else except snow and the top of the sub – unless its to combat an emergency.

  19. Bloke in Germany
    July 7, 2016 at 11:30 am

    @Paul,

    What you forget is that the libertardian orthodoxy that negative externalities are somebody else’s problem. And that all regulations are evil. My right to gunge up your waterway trumps your right to have a non-gunged waterway. Because.

    You obviously have no idea what libertarian ‘orthodoxy’ is nor the long history of discussion on how to deal with externalities – negative and positive.

  20. “how to deal with externalities – negative and positive.”

    Well, do tell us, or provide some links.

  21. Social Justice Warrior
    July 7, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    There are pictures of the St Croix River discharge on the internet. It wasn’t a small amount of sand.

    And it was an accident (apparently a berm was leaking without the company’s having realised). So Tim N’s comment about a monitoring program is not in this case to the point.

    If after checking the facts you think the regulation should not have been applied in this case, I’d be interested to hear why not.

    Well, *these* guys got a pass when they had an ‘accident’.

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2015/08/epa-accident-causes-more-water-pollution-than-fracking-does/

  22. Theophrastus
    July 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    “how to deal with externalities – negative and positive.”

    Well, do tell us, or provide some links.

    Nope. Complete waste of time. Either you’re interested and have already looked it up or you’re certain that Libertarian and libertarian are the same thing and we’re all a bunch of ‘Go Galt’ prepper crazies hoarding gold.

  23. “Nope. Complete waste of time.”

    Hear, hear. Theo, did you ask BiG for links? No, of course not. If you’re really interested in the topic rather than scoring cheap points, there’s this little site called Google…

  24. Incunabulum and Ltw

    That’s evasive and feeble. You’re behaving like an evangelical christian who refuses to engage with an enquiring agnostic and tells him to read the Bible.

  25. As so often these past few days, the result of the referendum has led to TW losing his marbles.

  26. Not here to provide you with an education Theo, especially on easily researched topics. In this case, not whether libertarians know exactly how to handle all externalities (no one said that), just that they do discuss it and don’t believe it to be ‘someone else’s problem’.If you were genuinely an ‘enquiring agnostic’, you would ask for evidence from both sides.

  27. Might as well point out also, at the beginning of the operations the company ought to carry out a Baseline Assessment of the environmental conditions in the vicinity of the plant, so that the impact of their operations can be properly measured. Without this baseline, it is impossible to know what the impact is. It’s all very well saying a spill might have killed the fish but there needs to be proper, quantified evidence that the fish were there in the first place. This is why the Baseline Assessment is so important, as it can serve to show the company’s actions are having no impact.

  28. Ltw

    So you clearly can’t provide any arguments for your position. All the words you’ve wasted elaborating your obsessively defensive posture could have been used to summarise briefly the arguments for your position and provide a link or two.

    Whether sand is a pollutant seems to be an empirical matter to me (see Tim N above). And Pigouvian taxation seems to be a good way of dealing with externalities, as our host explains in his ‘Chasing Rainbows’.

  29. Theo,

    “You’re behaving like an evangelical christian who refuses to engage with an enquiring agnostic”;

    That’s weird, because to me your contribution has a striking similarity to an aggressive atheist feigning agnosticism to badger a Christian – right down to reading ‘won’t’ and deciding it means ‘can’t. Would you happen to be that same Theophrastus who angrily insisted on David Thompson’s blog that it’s not lying to call him a paedophile?

  30. And is it just me who’s a bit baffled by the list “sand, sediment and dirt” – more than just a bit of an overlap there.

  31. its is not permissable to shovel it frozen from the tops of the subs into the river.

    So you leave the shovels in the shed, and fire up the hot air generators. And let the ecomentalists worry about the exhaust plumes.

    One day, bureaucrats might start to understand concepts like “second-order effects”.

  32. Thanks Nemo. Yes, won’t not can’t, especially to an obvious troll.

    I’d also like to ask you Theo, if you knew about Pigou taxation then why did you ask? By itself that renders your question moot.

  33. Not that there aren’t other options. But I won’t (remember that word) go looking up links for you for such a trivial point. Dashing off a couple of sentences to explain what an idiot you are doesn’t take a lot of effort, and it’s more fun than doing your research for you. Come up with a counter argument or fuck off.

  34. Nemo
    I have never called David Thompson a paedophile. I think you are very confused.

    Ltw

    What little I know about externalities, I have picked up from one Tim Worstall – here and in one of his books. Frankly, I have no fixed views on the matter. I am genuinely puzzled as to why you are so dogmatically and obsessively determined not to justify or explain your own views.

    I have come up with a couple of points – an empirical approach (following Tim N) to what constitutes pollution, and I have referred to the Pigouvian approach taken by our host to CO2 emissions. As far as I can see, your attitude is to ignore externalities because, er, liberty.

  35. Ho ho Theo. Thankfully, no rational reading of my comment would discern such a suggestion. But it was you then: “Theo’s a paedophile and that’s no lie”? I of course argued against your adherence to that statement.

  36. Nemo:

    Thankfully, no rational reading of my comment would discern such a suggestion.

    I suggest you re-read this point of yours and note the ambiguity:

    Would you happen to be that same Theophrastus who angrily insisted on David Thompson’s blog that it’s not lying to call him a paedophile?

    Someone reading that here might easily go away with the false notion that I called David Thompson (pbuh) a paedophile, which I have never done and would never do.

    And, if you recall, we were discussing what constituted a lie. Laurie Penny had said that romantic love was a “systemic lie”, and I said that that phrase was meaningless because a lie was an intentional untruth and systems can’t have intentions. You maintained that the assertion of an untruth was a lie. I explained why this was not so, and R Sherman summed up, saying:

    There has to be a moral component to what we call, “lying.” As Theo points out, people make innocent mistakes all the time in asserting things as true which are not. The moral problem arises when one makes an assertion with knowledge of its falsity (or willful ignorance as to whether the assertion is true or false) for the purpose of causing the recipient to accept the assertion as true and rely upon its truth.

    http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2015/12/the-unlovely.html

  37. Theo, my comment above was clearly regarding whether it was a lie to call the subject a paedophile, not whether anyone had called the subject a paedophile – so not confused, just rational.

    And thanks for digging up the link: my basic assertion, then as now, is that an unsupported statement of fact is a lie; I thought a mildly offensive accusation would lead you to agree – very green of me; it got way too far through the looking glass for me, so I bailed without ratcheting-up to the obvious “Theo raped a nine-year-old boy in the Holiday Inn at Leeds-Bradford International Airport on Saturday 29th February 2014” – it seemed too offensive to me, yet I’d be the one insisting it was a lie and you that it wasn’t.

    As to the moral element: diluting the importance of truth has grave consequences for society, not least in the abysmal performance of an unaccountable public sector and in politicians who shelter behind obfuscation. Does Chilcot affect your opinion on lies versus untruths (intent unknowable)?

  38. “Does Chilcot affect your opinion on lies versus untruths (intent unknowable)?”

    In short, No.

  39. “Frankly, I have no fixed views on the matter. I am genuinely puzzled as to why you are so dogmatically and obsessively determined not to justify or explain your own views.”

    If you read carefully, Theo, you’ll see I haven’t expressed any views. The one person who has, you refuse to question.

    “As far as I can see, your attitude is to ignore externalities because, er, liberty.”

    Showing your true colours, finally. That’s what BiG said, not me or anyone else. I doubt you can quote me on that. Your vision is not my concern.

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