It’s big news this week: Trump reversed a late in the game rule change from the Obama administration about coal pollution in rivers and streams.
Lots of people are in a riduculous tizzy about this. Bill Mahre’s show last night was particularly dogmatic about this one news item, although honestly that whole show seems inspired over the last month.
Some people I know do this funny thing called thinking. Tyler Cowen (not a Trump fanboy) is one of them. And he's actually read and thought about the Obama administration’s consultant’s report in favor of the regulation.
It’s not pretty. I’ll start with the end:
If it were up to me, I would not have overturned the coal/stream regulations, and my personal inclination is indeed to fight a war on coal. But if you look at the grounds for evaluation specified by law, and examine the cost-benefit study with even a slightly critical mindset …
… To strike this regulation down, as the Trump administration has done, is in fact not an indefensible action.
Then there’s the old D.C. trope that jobs are a benefit rather than a cost (last I checked, most of recognize that more work is bad, unless a politician says it):
… Expected to reduce employment by 124 jobs on average each year due to decreased coal mined while an additional 280 jobs will be created from increased compliance activity on average each year.
That’s minute. But it points out that, at some level, this is a jobs program for bureaucrats. And what will they be doing, you may ask?
Water quality is improved in 262 miles of streams ([page] 7-26), in case you are wondering, that’s something but hardly a major impact and that almost entirely in underpopulated parts of the country.
I do think this calls for some truth in advertising. Imagine, if you will, Hillary Clinton campaigning that she will hire 300 people and assign them a mile of stream each to maintain, as their full time job. Would it be outrageous to wonder wtf those people are going to be doing that will keep them busy for 40 hours each week? That’s a lot of time for a mile of stream.
Of course, the regulation had to have a money shot. Didn’t it?
I am not able to scrutinize the introductory section “SUMMARY OF BENEFITS AND COSTS OF THE STREAM PROTECTION RULE” and figure out the final assessment of net benefits for the rule and where that assessment might come from. I find that worrisome, and paging through the study did not put my mind at ease in this regard.
All in all, this seems like easy pickings for the Trump administraition. If progressives are going to fight over small potatoes like this, they’re going to exhaust themselves quickly.
Is it just me, or are the anti-Trumpers all tactics and no strategy? That won’t end well.