Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Congressional Issues 2010
Environmental Health: Risks and Reality

The 112th Congress should

  • take back the regulatory authority it has delegated to the Environmental Protection Agency;
  • transfer responsibility for the safety of chemicals to industry;
  • address the question, What is an acceptable level of risk?
  • reexamine the acceptable risk level it set in the Food Quality Protection Act; and
  • strip the EPA of its research functions.

Everybody wants clean air and water. Everybody. For one politician to accuse another politician of "not caring about the environment" or even wanting polluted air and water is just ridiculous. Everybody wants clean air and water. Everybody.

But as the great philosopher Mick Jagger put it, "You can't always get what you want." At least not at zero price.

Through boycotts and tort litigation, consumers may pressure a corporation to remove 99% of the pollutants it discharges into the environment. The cost of removing the remaining 1% may be many times greater than the cost of removing the first 99%. Is the cost worth the risk? The Free Market, hearing the input of all consumers, based on the collective knowledge of hundreds of millions of Americans, is better equipped than Congress or its bureaucracies to decide on the value of cleaning up the remaining 1%.

For more information, see Price V. Fishback's review of CALCULATING RISKS: The Spatial and Political Dimensions of Hazardous-Waste Policy, by James T. Hamilton and W. Kip Viscusi (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Winter 2001).

Also see CUTTING GREEN TAPE: Toxic Pollutants, Environmental Regulation and the Law, edited by Richard Stroup and Roger Meiners, foreword by W. Kip Viscusi (The Independent Institute/ Transaction Publishers, 2000).

For TOXIC TORTS BY GOVERNMENT by Bruce Benson, research fellow at The Independent Institute.

Click here for a related speech to the California Mining Association by Alex Tabarrok, research director at The Independent Institute.

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