Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Short: Miles apart on regulation

"The reductions of toxic pollution required by the pending “Mercury and Air Toxics” standard would save as many as 17,000 lives every year by 2015 and prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms." -National Resources Defense Council

"If enacted, the regulations would lead to nationwide employment losses totaling 1.44 million job-years by 2020 and increase Americans’ average electricity bills by 11.5 percent. In some parts of the United States, rates would climb by almost 24 percent." - A coal-power industrial group

One article talks only about the health benefits of a set of regulations. One article talks only about the economic drawbacks. Where can we go for a balanced discussion? None of the top 20 Google suggestions help.


Nick said...

I generally find ScienceBlogs to have good posts on science and politics, though I only found one post on the topic.

But in any case, why should we take the ACCCA's report any more seriously than we would a report financed by tobacco companies on smoking? Especially when the report isn't peer-reviewed?

Anonymous said...

As usual, when industry is faced with actually having to experience all of the costs it generates, rather than just being able to shove them off onto the rest of us, they predict dire circumstances. In other words, if you don't accept pollution, market manipulation, workplace risks, etc., etc., you will have to pay some other way because we'll have to make up the money some other way.

That's not a particularly convincing arugment, and it's never worked for criminals, but they trot it out through their lawyers, lobbyists and pre-purchased elected official anyway.

Sure, there are trade-offs in every choice. That's what makes them a choice. But it's always those who had gotten a free ride who are loudest in defending the status quo.

ModeratePoli said...

My point is that both posts are heavily biased, which undercuts their reliability. They both completely ignore information that doesn't support their bias. So, no, I don't think ACCA's report is reliable, even for the economic costs, which are likely to be inflated to support their viewpoint.

Similarly with NRDC-- they may inflate the number of asthma attacks per year, or hide the information showing that it's a horribly small percentage of yearly asthma attacks. They aren't a fair, believable voice on the environmental issues either because they aren't at all balanced in their statements either.

Thanks for the recommendation for another site. I'll check it out sometime.

@Anon, I agree that industry isn't an unbiased source of info, and they do whine, connive, etc. to avoid costs. But who is a reliable source for cost/benefit analysis? We really need someone to do that!

Anonymous said...


This is a particular interest area of mine -- not Mercury levels specifically -- but the dynamics of the cost/benefit analysis offered by the supposedly "equal" sides.

They are not so at all. The side defending the status quo is the one likely avoiding the hidden costs of their enterprise. That dramatically shifts the burden of proof (to generate action) to the side trying the change things.

Is that fair? I don't think so. The "defense" has received the benefits of their actions and can use any profit generated from passing the hidden costs -- if they exist -- to maintain the status quo and CONTINUE to receive those benefits.

The the burden of proof should shift to the "defense" to show that their actions do NOT pass the cost to others, once the plaintiff has shown, on the preponderence of evidence standard, that the defendant's actions DO create costs for others.

So to charge that the plaintiffs and defendants assertions are subject to bais simply shifts the burden back onto the plaintiff after they have already surpassed it.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon 3:08

That's a very strong argument without any weaknesses that I can see.

I'd like to add that it is hard to do this kind of research independently. Most of us don't have access to economic or business data on one side, or environmental health effects data on the other. So in many ways we are dependent on these biased participants.

Perhaps the best way to solve this is borrowed from the scientific method, that is, the openness of the research.