9-11-04 - 2


I think I've written about this before, but here I go again. It seems crystal clear to me that the right way to regulate pollution is by charging companies a fee for the damage they do to the environment. Roughly, you want a charge a fee that's close to the cost of repairing the damage they do, plus a sort of "rent" for the fact that it's damaged between the time they do damage and when it can be repaired (so the rent is proportional to how long it takes to repair). The guideline is the idea that all the people in a country own that country - the geography and air and water of that country is really the property of all the people. If you fuck that up, you must pay for the damage, you must buy the right to do it, and the way you buy it is by paying the government, which is the representative of all the people. So, let's say you have a power plant that pollutes some amount, you pay based on the amount of pollution. If you have a very dirty plant, it may be economically non-viable to run that plant unless you clean it up. The penalty rates have to be carefully tweaked so that it's profitable to run a plant that's reasonably clean, but not profitable to run a plant that's very dirty. If you do something like logging, you have to pay for the defacing of the forest, some reasonable fee; obviously logging old-growth that takes a hundred years to be restored would be very expensive. If you do something like clear-cutting or strip-mining, the fees become very large. Something like mountain-top-removal would have astronomical fees, making it for all real purposes forbidden - how much does it cost to restore a mountain-top? The valley that was filled? The river that was clogged? Billions!

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old rants