Re: to regulate pollution

Abraham Moses Genen (
Sat, 20 Sep 1997 13:23:04 -0400

Abraham Moses Genen
Being dedicated to the future progress of humankind
should be the prime concern of all civilized beings.

Dear Anton and other Fellow Extropians:

Anton's comments (below) notwithstanding it is quite easy to enter a tort
(either individually, or as a class action) under most state laws or under
the provisions of the USC.
The regulations that Anton refers to (see: USCRR a/k/a Code of Rules and
Regulations) as well, are not as fixed as he seems to believe. In fact,
one of the reasons that the USCRR is published daily is because rules and
standards are frequently changed as new information, social, economic
and/or technological changes occur or developments become available.
For those of you who suffer from insomnia, you may wish to read the daily
changes that occur in the USCRR. They are almost guaranteed to put you to
sleep in ten minutes or less or your money back. The same is true of the
NYCRR (I know because I've written some of those regulations).

Where a taxpayer has a grievence against a governmental body they always
have recourse through the courts. In NY State it's called an Article 78
proceeding. Most other states have similar recourse statutes.


From: Anton Sherwood <>
Subject: to regulate pollution
Date: Saturday, September 20, 1997 9:15 AM

quoth Keith/Hagbard:
: ... A regulation can arguably make things more
: complex, but seems also to result in an information loss. Take, for
: example, regulations on the emission of toxic gases. When an outsider
: steps in and denotes X units to be the highest legal limit on the
: emission of toxic gas Y, the non-complying actor must either arrest the
: emission by cutting production or acquire a new means of production that
: is in compliance. This increases complexity, but only because another
: actor has entered the picture (the regulation). However, the information
: concerning what is efficient, what is Y's impact upon the environment,
: etc. is lost.

More specifically, perhaps - when pollution is regulated in
absolute language (thou shalt not emit more than X; thou shalt
not emit any Y at all; thou shalt use technology Z to control
thine emissions, whether or not Z is effective in thy case)
information is lost from the cost/benefit analysis.

It's hard to measure the costs of pollution, partly because
(if I understand correctly) of a political decision early in
the Industrial Revolution that progress is too important to be
hobbled by liability. Where people are suing for damages, the
plaintiffs themselves provide abundant information about the
costs of a given practice; but it's very hard to sue for damages
from pollution.

When the factory is liable for the external costs of pollution,
and has evidence on which to base an estimate of those costs,
it can rationally balance those costs with the costs of adopting
a less-polluting process.

In environmental policy, though, it's customary to scream
indignantly that *any* pollution is intolerable; in other
words, to insist (falsely) that the costs of pollution are
always infinite. Well, one infinity equals another, so it's
hard to see how such rhetoric can ever lead to improvement.

Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\*