Friday, May 16, 2014

Renee Pinkerton's views on Environmental Regulations

May 15, 2014
 Regulations and Environment
When I think about government regulation of the environment I find myself with two opposing opinions.  I resonate with the statement that environmental regulation often means expense and inconvenience (Laposta and Withgott 2014).
 I had chosen to be the general contractor for the remodel of our home. My family has always been people who chose “do it yourself” whenever possible. The process of working through all the issues of building codes and regulations was nothing less than frustrating. Often I would get two different responses as to what was permitted and necessary. Some of the regulations were out of date for the neighborhood and the community. Others did not seem to make sense, like needing to install a drywell in order to manage our storm water.  It felt like a nightmare trying to comply with all the codes and regulations when all we wanted to do was improve the livability of our home. The codes increased the cost of the remodel significantly. When all was said and done I had a less than favorable opinion of city planning department they felt like an enemy instead of a partner in helping residents make their community better. This sentiment is echoed in blogs and commentaries of many who seeks to make changes and run into regulatory agencies (Luddy, 2012).
On the other hand seeing the effects of no planning or regulations has on communities and its residences is appalling. The unsafe and unfinished buildings, raw sewage everywhere, limited if any safe drinking water, no traffic structure and so much more was observed as I have had opportunities to visit other less regulated countries.  I realize that all the hassle I incurred was well worth the benefits I and the community now have because of the regulatory structure that exists.
Why is there a need for regulation? Tragedy of the Commons philosophy states that persons will use a resource until it is depleted (Laposta and Withgott 2014).  I have certainly seen this to be a true statement. Public oversight through government is a common way to address issues and to manage the resources they.
There are other means that have been effective in regulating resources, such as the bottom-up co-operative approach where resource users unite to maintain the resource so that it will be sustained. Or by privatization, if it is yours you will make greater effort to maintain it.  These and other methods have worked at times but many times it becomes clear that enforceable government regulation is the most effective. (Laposta and Withgott 2014).           
Our remodel project was significantly impacted with greater costs by the regulations, so it is also true of any situation where regulations are required. The adding of a drywell seemed unnecessary but as I have learned this was very important to helping us manage our storm water in an ecofriendly manner. The   regulation that stated that we could not add a two car garage because we were zoned as a “one buggy” neighborhood, was no longer a true reflection of the neighborhood. Because government is not efficient in addressing regulations that are not effective, citizens become frustrated with the expense and effort it takes to work with government regulatory agencies. Government regulatory agencies are not the rule makers they are the rule enforcers. It is important that we as citizens comply with regulation that are current and relevant and at the same time be diligent to address regulations that are ineffective and irrelevant.  

Laposata, M and Withgott, J. (2014) Environment and the science behind the stories, fifth edition. Pearson Publishing, Glenview, IL
Luddy, R. (2012) Government regulation is killing economic growth. US News and World Report. Retrieved on May 15, 2014:
The Economist. (2012). Over-regulated America. Retrieved on May 15, 2014 from: 

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