Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ricardo Gallegos' views on Environmental Regulations

Environmental Regulations
Ricardo Gallegos
PHS 100A Environmental Studies
Professor: David Terrell Ph. D.
Warner Pacific College
January 7, 2014
            Some would say (and they would not be wrong) that I have a rather negative view of most things. Yet I have come by this negativity honestly, through bitter experience. And that negativity certainly extends to the area of environmental regulation.
A hydrologist and good friend of mine once said to me (and I have since come to believe this essential truth) that, “it is not the defense of the environment – by any means necessary – that is radical, but rather the defense of the status quo” (J. Rhodes, personal communication, 1997). What I take this to mean is that the critical eco systems of our planet – the whole biosphere in fact – is at a tipping point. If serious action to protect the environment is not taken soon, our children and their children’s children may never forgive us.
            When I was young and naive, I thought, “well, if something is wrong with the environment, we should just pass a law that would protect it and all would be well.” Little did I understand the colossal obstacles that truly stand in the way of meaningful protection, not the least of which is human nature, that inexplicable ability to act in a manner only as it relates to immediate self-interest, forgetting completely that it is in the interest of our species to protect the planet in order to avoid extinction not only of God’s creatures, but also of ourselves.
Setting our human-centric nature aside for the moment let us discuss what environmental regulations are and why they have thus far failed to protect the environment.
In their book Environment: The Science Behind the Stories, Withcott and Laposata assert that environmental regulations are an extension of a wider environmental policy; and that policy “generally aims to regulate resource use or reduce pollution in order to promote human welfare and/or protect natural systems” (Withcott, & Laposata, 2013, p. 164). I don’t necessarily disagree with this statement; on the contrary I concede its inherent truth.
The problem, however, is that the text also claims that environmental policy addresses issues of fairness and resource use; yet, it outlines this fairness only as it pertains to the government, the private sector, and the citizenry (capitalism in other words), leaving fairness to the wider biomass of the planet out of the equation, thus refusing to recognize the rights of everything else to exist unrelated to human beings. Life is resilient, yet it exists only within a very narrow range of conditions. We are fortunate to live on a world which possesses those conditions, and, such wondrous biodiversity.
Until we are ready to postulate a policy that has at its core one self-evident truth, that ‘all life has a right to exist’ regardless of the needs of humanity, no policy or regulation will be adequate to protect it. It is the inability to come to terms with this truth that allows society to make such narrow, ineffectual, and loophole ridden policies in the first place, and explains our willingness to ignore the few environmental regulations that are well written. Consider the following example.
When I lived in Tucson, Arizona I worked for El Paso Natural Gas Company. El Paso has pump stations that have been in operation sense the 40’s and 50’s and are nowhere close to meeting current environmental air pollution standards. This is because when the regulations were written they gave the gas companies a loophole that says if they do not modify or repair more than fifty percent of the pump station equipment in a given year, they do not have to meet current air pollution standards. Meeting the higher standards is expensive, very expensive, so it is in the company’s economic interest never to change their old equipment. Normally these stations would last ten or twenty years, but I observed first hand that the predominant concern when performing maintenance is to never approach the fifty percent threshold! They will do practically anything to keep these massive (they’re as large as a building) antique engines running. There is no interest in being a good corporate citizen or protecting the environment. And this is a reflection of our society as a whole.
 The sphere of influence of both economic interest and political ideology must be reduced along with a corresponding increase in ethical behavior is essential in order to effect meaningful change. Sadly, to the greater extent, these cannot be regulated. It would require a fundamental shift in human nature away from self-interests. My people (I am American Indian) have a saying, ‘seven-generations.’ What this means is to think of your actions in terms of how it will affect the next seven generations to follow. With that understanding, if I were to be asked to write just one regulation that would most benefit the environment, it would be to limit the human population of the earth to less than 1.5 billion people.
According Ben Stallings of World Population Balance, an organization dedicated to the sustainability of our global home, “The Earth’s 29.6 billion acres of biologically productive land and water could sustainably support only about 1.5 billion people at an ‘American standard of living and consumption’” (Stallings, 2009). Reducing Earth’s population would have the greatest positive effect on all other forms of life on the planet, and would ironically help ensure our own survival as a species. It would be painful to be sure, perhaps even cruel. But if you had a cancer would you not remove it? Well, humans are the cancer on the planet body. And a reduction in population is a necessary step to move from cancer to symbiosis.
Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2013). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New
York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN-13: 978-0-321-89742-8
Stallings, B. (2009). World Population Balance: Current population is three times the
sustainable level. Retrieved from sustainable

Environmental Regulation and Economy by Lynn Wong-Thai

The Environmental Regulation and Economy
Lynn Wong-Thai
PHS 100A - Environmental Studies
Professor David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
January 6, 2014 

Carbon pollution is the leading cause of global warming, increasing the chances of natural disasters, drought and flood, hurting our health and costing our nation millions to trillions of dollars in health care costs.  When it comes to connecting the dots between climate change, extreme weather and health, the lines are clear.  It’s time to listen, take action, and protect our planet from further damage by our own activities.
How can we help to reduce the carbon pollution and increase the effectiveness of Environmental Law?        
Studies shows that the rise in greenhouse gases primarily results from the combustion of fossil fuels for energy and from the loss of carbon-absorbing vegetation due to deforestation.  Many scientists across the world are urging governments to address this issue.  In 2005, the national academies of science from 11 nations gathered together to address the global warming issue and they issued a joint statement asking political leaders to take action.  The statement simply asked people to be more conscious about the climate change and take prompt action to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system (Withgott, Laposata, 2013).  In the United States, many heated debates over climate change cast doubt on the scientific consensus.  These individuals together with corporate interests admit that the climate is changing but remain doubtful if humans were to blame.  Businesses and individuals often view regulations as overly restrictive, bureaucratic or costly. 
Environmental policy aims to promote plans and principles; it acts as a guide for decision making.  The goals of environmental policy are to protect resources against the tragedy of the commons and promote fairness by eliminating free riders and addressing external costs.  For example, the polluter-pays principle, suggesting those responsible for pollution should shoulder the cost for its impacts.  Most environmental laws and regulations use a command-and-control strategy in regulating agency, prohibiting certain actions and punishing those who violate the rules and regulations.  This approach has allowed many citizens of the United States and many other nations to have cleaner air, cleaner water and healthier neighborhoods that we live in today. 
Most people recognize that fossil fuel consumption is altering the planet that our children will inherit.  As citizens of this society, everyone, not just leaders in government and business, is responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Reducing fossil fuel requires many baby steps and it involves many people and institutions across many sectors.  This effort can be achieved using current technology and implementing these changes immediately will stabilize our CO2 emission level.  As scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow suggest, if we follow the age-old wisdom by breaking the jobs into small parts, the job won’t be too big to handle. 
We can make lifestyle changes to reduce electricity consumption by replacing light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights reducing energy use for lighting by 40% according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program.  Some people choose to move closer to their workplace while others use mass transit including buses, subway trains, light rail and even remote-in from home.  For example, Google is working with investor-owned energy from Duke Energy to reduce its carbon footprint to zero by purchasing renewable energy credits.  It wants the energy and the credit to help move the market towards more green energy (Environmental Leader, 2013). 
Actions are being taken by nine northeastern states collaborating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by joining cap-and-trade programs for carbon emissions from power plants.  A similar approach is called fee-and-dividend or green taxes; funds or fees paid to government by polluters are transferred as a tax refund or dividend to taxpayers.  If polluters pass their costs to consumers, these consumers will be reimbursed in the form of a tax refund.
Global climate change maybe the biggest challenge we face in our society today.  If we want to leave a sustainable earth for our future generations and to safeguard the living planet that we know, we should reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and increase our use of clean, renewable energy.  Support and encourage our government and political leaders to advocate for this and protect us our planet.


Environmental Leader (2013). Google Shrinks Carbon Footprint 9%. Retrieved on January 4, 2014.
Fulton, W., (2010). Governing: Do Environmental Regulations Hurt the Economy? Retrieved on January 4, 2014.
Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2013). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN-13:978-0-321-89742-8

This History of Oregon's Environmentalism by Tony Rieger

 Oregon’s Regulations
Anthony Rieger
PHS 100A Environmental Studies
David Terrell, Ph.D.
Warner Pacific College
January 8, 2014
Oregon’s Regulations
             When doing research for this topic I came across a very interesting timeline of when the state of Oregon implemented environmental regulations.  The first regulation put in place by the state of Oregon was in 1889 and it was a law that “prohibited the polluting of waters used for domestic or livestock purposes” (State of Oregon 1).  In class tonight we talked about different environmental issues but most of the were closely related to present day, I was pleased to learn that 124 years ago the people who lived here understood that there are different problems that we are causing and that need to be handled appropriately or the people and the state of Oregon could be in danger.
            Another law that was enacted which I felt was interesting was in 1969 about air quality, burning, and smoke.  I have seen this regulation in place but I had not read or understood why they did it.  If you travel along highway 213 from Molalla south to Stayton it is about a 45 minute country drive, and along the way you will see rolling hills of farm land.  During a couple of my trips down there in the fall I noticed that the farmers would drive tractors around their fields that had an attachment that several high  powered torches were on, and they would proceed to torch their fields. This was of course after harvest, and like we discussed in class tonight fire bring revitalizing properties to plant growth. Anyways, I noticed that the farmers would never burn all of their fields at the same time which I felt was inefficient, but come to find out it was a state regulation.  In 1969 the smoke from farmers burning their fields was so thick that it covered Eugene and resulted in a pedestrian being killed by a driver that could not see and a 12 car pile-up on I-5(State of Oregon 1). That is where there is a limit to how much land a farmer can burn in a day.  Also tied into this I found a list of materials that are illegal to burn at any time, the list mostly contained petroleum based products such as oil and tires but what surprised me was that you are not allowed to burn dead animals or wet garbage and food waste (State of Oregon 2). I cannot say that I have ever thought about burning those things, but I sure did not know they were illegal.
            The next regulation that I thought was interesting was in 1971 when the state of Oregon passed the nation’s first bottle bill.  This bill has been in place for 15 years longer than I have been alive, I never gave it a second thought, and as far as I have ever known people have always paid a five cent tax on their can’s and then had to take them back to the store to get your money back.  According to Oregon DEQ “In 2009, more than one billion beverage containers were recycled under the bottle bill” and in doing so Oregon saved “three trillion BTU’s of energy” (State of Oregon 3).  That is an astonishing amount of energy saved just by recycling beverage containers.  I knew that recycling was helpful, but I had no idea that we could do that much with beverage containers, I am surprised that this information is not more widely known to Oregonians.  It is one thing to tell everyone that recycling is good for our state and planet but I believe that if people understood exactly how much we can save with such little effort more people would join in and try to recycle just a little bit more.

State of Oregon 1. (n.d.). Oregon DEQ: Historical Timeline. Retrieved 1-8-2014, from:
 State of Oregon 2. (n.d.). Oregon DEQ: Air Quality Burning Smoke. Retrieved 1-8-2014, from:
State of Oregon 3. (n.d.). Oregon DEQ: Land Quality – Solid Waste – Oregon Bottle Bill. Retrieved 1-8-2014, from:

The Role of the BLM by Donna Holland

U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Donna Holland/Westling
PHS 100A
Warner Pacific College
January 5th 2014

The Role of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is to take care of the public lands enjoyed by everyone for mostly recreational reasons. This brings in jobs for many people as important as a park director down to the person running a gift shop on some of the more popular areas.
Public lands are places that are owned by the United States and Managed by the Bureau of Land. These places such as the San Juan Islands are big beautiful areas filled with wild life and many beautiful places to take a peaceful walk, hike, or ATV adventure.  In the article Bureau of Land Management stated, “In 2011, 57 million people visited public lands for recreation outings. These outings are things such as camping, hiking, and having a place to go horse back riding.
Many large events are put together by the Bureau of Land Management with local community partners they put on mountain bike races, and big events with motorcycles put on by large sponsor names. From turbo charged adventures to solitary and serene excursions, the Bureau of Land Management recreation program offers something for everyone across more than 245 million acres of public land.  
The Western United States is the home to the Americans backyard and the Bureau of Land Management helps with developing productivity with jobs for local residents. The article from The Bureau of Land Management stated “2011, $7 billion in economic impact 58,000 jobs supported by the Bureau of Land Management.”
My personal feeling is that the Bureau of Land Management is doing an amazing job, my family loves to spend time out side. We are dirt bikes and if we didn’t have this land to spend our time on playing on the bikes my husband for one would be a very upset man. I find that not only do we spend time doing that but I have also loved going out into the national forest near us and taking pictures of the wild life. We also live at the base of Mt. St. Helens and it has been amazing watching the land change over the years. Without the Bureau of Land Management all the time spent to bring back the wild life of Mt. St. Helens may have never been done.

The Buraeu of Land Management. (2013)

Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2013). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings.