OTHER VOICES

Price of the environment

Posted April 13, 2011, at 9:54 p.m.

Today’s question is for Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, who fancies himself as the author of a compromise in the battle in Congress over the Environmental Protection Agency. How much money will it cost, Mr. Olson, to fully calculate the price of environmental regulation?

Nothing is free and little comes cheap. Olson needs to remember that as he calls for adding to a regulatory burden that already includes cost analyses. His call for a calculation of how many jobs a given regulation might eliminate, as he seems to fear, or else create might even require hiring more scientists and economic analysts.

Think of the mischief that could bring about. Someone else in Congress might demand to know how much it costs to find out how much it costs for the EPA to do its job.

One might think that some 40 years after the EPA was created, its role in making sure the air we breathe and the water we drink are clean and free of pollutants would be accepted. One might think that critics of government would focus their attention on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — if not Libya, too. That, or, say, what’s still the scant success of the Obama administration in creating jobs.

No, alas. It’s the EPA that has some people — Olson included — so occupied, to the point where they want to restrict its power before they vote to provide the money to keep the federal government functioning for the rest of the fiscal year.

The Times Union, Albany, N.Y. (April 1)

Pirate justice

Great. One Yemeni and 13 Somali pirates who hijacked an American yacht and killed four Americans in late February off the coast of Oman have been indicted in a U.S. civilian court where they will be given all the protections guaranteed in our criminal justice system — free lawyers to plead their case, presumption of innocence, and if convicted a place to sleep and eat for as many years as they are sentenced to serve. No such consideration was granted to the murdered Americans, two couples on a world cruise to distribute Bibles in far-off and often non-religious places.

Let’s be clear about a few things. First, piracy is an internationally recognized crime that traditionally has rated summary, not lawyerly, justice.

Second, small, outboard motor-powered skiffs do not operate independently hundreds of miles at sea. They are supported by mother ships that perforce operate in relatively close proximity to the small craft pirates use to board and capture the vessels they hold for ransom.

Third, these mother ships and the Somali ports most operate from must be known by the naval forces currently deployed to combat them. If not, the large sums spent on naval surveillance, long-distance radar, patrol aircraft, satellite cameras, etc., have not been well spent.

Fourth, it should be relatively simple to destroy the infrastructure supporting piracy in the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean areas where it currently is most prevalent. If not, then why not?

The international community needs a plan of attack, and the commitment to follow it.

The Post and Courier of Charleston (April 5)

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