Sunday, April 24, 2005

Coal mining

In the course of a long and interesting DailyKos post on coal mining, Devilstower reminds us why we love federal regulations:

That "forbidden zone" around my childhood home? That's the "pre-law" land. As in the "before the surface mine reclamation act made us put down a huge cash bond that that we can't get back until we fix everything" land. Before the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. If mining companies had not been required to essentially put themselves deep in debt every time they mined, and only get their money back when things meet the standards, they would have happily left more open pits and acid pools.

Those nice statistics on reduction in pollution? That's the Clean Air Act at work. If the government hadn't stepped in to tell them to stop, they would have never even heard the word "scrubber." Every move they made - from mining lower sulfur coal to the sophisticated steps put in place to cut down on particulate emissions - was done directly to meet the mandates of the Act. If the numbers on that graph look good to you, note that on average the industry has done exactly as it was required to, and not one bit more.

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