It's the Green Police, baby

Embarassingly, I think I posted this last night instead of saving it as a draft. Yay sleep deprivation! Good thing I don't have an audience of thousands RSS-feeding this blog.

But anyway!

So lately, some interesting developments have come up regarding the enforcement of environmental policy, which is something that can really only grow. It comes in a few different flavors.

First, a few weeks back I caught an article on New York City's "environmental conservation officers" and the difficulty they have A. enforcing regulations and B. getting people to take them seriously, despite their uniforms and guns. In general, they check on street-level enforcement stuff; whether fish markets are selling fish they shouldn't've been fishing, whether trucks are putting out too much gross stuff, whether oil is leaking from gas stations or body shops - stuff like that, stuff that leads New York residents to ask them things like "You’re not from here".

But it is, without a doubt, a good thing - environmental regulations are Good Things, and making sure that people know about them and comply with them is necessary. Without a bit of perspective about why we need to do things like protect fish populations and local atmospheres, the jump to protecting the planet with drastic action (the only kind that will work) is meaningless. The point is that what we each do matters, and the environ-cops are (hopefully) helping people realize that.

The Environmental Protection Agency, though, is taking a wider and harder approach. In December, they established a list of people who are Most Wanted for environmental fraud and other crimes. It's currently 21 people long, and will hopefully stop other law enforcement agencies from letting environmental criminals slip through their fingers.

Looking at the over-all mission, it's important - it's a smaller-scale version of the efforts that led to the establishment of Homeland Security. The basic idea: there's so much information in the world these days, how do we get something done?

But there's another message - a lot of these regulations aren't soft any more. The EPA, of late, has been trying to show that they have teeth - whether that's a national effort to round up the kind of people who pretend to train people in asbestos removal or going after people over-emitting carbon dioxide regardless of what happens in Congress. And that's something I applaud. Contrary to popular sentiment, we need to crack down and show people that environmental laws are important - because we can't get something done on feelings alone.

Are we creating a regime of environmental protectionism where fascist, paramilitary operatives will strike down the hard-working factory owners over emitting a little too much carbon dioxide? Exaggeration aside, I certainly hope so - because we've got to get to work.

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