Warner Pacific College
June 10, 2011
Government regulations pertaining to the environment can sometimes be more than just a few laws that are handed down. These laws that are meant to do the right thing, but are causing a lot of turmoil to the businesses and land owners that are involved. The majority of people in the United States want more regulations, but are not are not fully aware of all the implications that are involved. There is a lot of disagreement with the government over regulations that perhaps the government was not aware of, in terms of how businesses are being affected. Much dispute comes out of these regulations that are handed down to the public. There is two sides, on one hand you have the government enforcing these laws because it is much needed to help and save our environment and on the hand you have these businesses and land owners that are furious with the government over these rulings that have caused them much grief. With pollution, economic downturn, and global warming on the arise, one thing is for sure something needs to be done, whether businesses give in to the governments demands or the government becomes more lenient towards these businesses.
Let’s start with land owners, the Fifth Amendment states that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation, which the courts have interpreted this clause as the” taking clause”. This bans the government from taking away your private property and it also ensure you from regulatory taking. Regulatory taking is when a government law deprives a property owner of all or some economic use of his or her property (Withgott, Bennan, 2010). This amendment is brought up when zoning comes to the forefront of a region; zoning involves government restrictions on the use of private land and represents a top-down constrain on personal property rights. Zoning is meant to keep certain businesses from entering specific neighborhoods, zoning also gives home buyers and business owners security because they know in advance what types of development can developed in that particular area. Zoning from the governments’ perception sounds like a high-quality decision. Now let us take a look at zoning from a landowners perception, the landowner might see this as a violation to his or hers right to the Fifth Amendment. The land owner might want to make good use of his or her land space, but if regulations are imposed and prohibits the land owner from maximizing the use of the land, then this is entitles the owner his or her day in court. This is exactly what happened to a South Carolina man named Lucas. Lucas a land developer who purchased beach property in 1986 for $975,000 was a prime example of how zoning affected his development. In 1988, before Lucas began developing on the beach front, a law was passed that banned constructions on eroding beaches. The land that Lucas owned was declared as an eroding beach and prohibited residential construction. Lucas believing that this constituted as a regulatory taking, filed and asked the lower courts to compensate him because his Fifth Amendment had been violated. The lower court ruled sided with Lucas and compensated him with $1.2 million dollars, but the case was overruled by the state supreme court. Lucas was forced to take his case all the way to U.S Supreme court, which eventually ruled in favor with Lucas (Withgott, Bennan, 2010). This was a prime example how government regulations are not always clear and concise according to land owners.
Cases like the Lucas vs. South Carolina Coastal Council have left many people wondering if government knows what’s best for our communities. “Many citizens and policy experts began to feel that the legislative and regulatory means used to achieve environmental policy goals too often imposed economic burdens on businesses and personal burdens on individuals” (Withgott, Bennan, 2010, p. 178). Pressure from businesses and citizens pushed back the efforts of government regulations, such as the years that Ronald Regan and George Bush were presidents, these administrations weakened environmental laws for years that followed.
Although businesses seemed to be fighting back against government regulations and with the help of certain political administrations behind them, things began to change. The change came when Barack Obama became president, along with the enhanced Democratic majorities in Congress; a new wave of policies hit the nation as a whole. Policies that was not only effective to our environment but also our society at large. The policies that I am referring to are The Recovery Act and Reinvestment Act. The Recovery Act and Reinvestment Act is an act that includes more than $80 billion dollars in the generation of renewable energy sources, expanding manufacturing capacity for clean energy technology, advancing vehicle and fuel technologies, and building a bigger, better, smarter electric grid, all while creating new, sustainable jobs. The Recovery Act was responsible for 2 million jobs or even more nationwide in the first year alone. The Recovery Act has laid the groundwork for a new clean energy economy, revitalized infrastructure and transportation, and it has helped transform health information technology to stay competitive for years to come (Whitehouse.Gov). These policies enable the government to help the environment, communities, businesses, as well as individuals. Looking at it from this standpoint, it appears that the government knows what they are doing, because they are taking care of all the critical issues of today’s topics.
Issues like these are just a small example why people favor or are against governmental regulations. Favoritism really depends on subjective experience, it depends who is being affected by the policy and whether it can be used beneficially to the people involved. My personal view on government regulation is that it is not a self solving issue, it will take years and efforts by all of us that are involved, and I think in the end pollution and global warming will not let us decide who is right. I think that it is going to get really bad and that government will have to oversee all our problems. In the end it will be the government that will decide what is more important, whether the business stays up or it comes down due to the harmful effects it may have toward the environment.
Withgott, J., & Bennan, S. (2010). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories (4th
Ed.). New York. Pearson Benjamin Cummings
http://www.whitehouse.gov/recovery Retrieved on June 12, 2011