Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
SPOTLIGHT: Why does San Fransisco need its own Department of the Environment?
BIG PICTURE: We have a proverb in the English language: Too many cooks spoil the broth. Too much of a good thing produces bad results.
Environmental protection is a prime example. Nationally, the US spends $40 billion a year on Energy and the Environment. That’s billion with a B – year after year.
In addition to funding never-ending research into climate change and renewable energy, this pot of money funds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which protects “human health and the environment.” 14,000 people are on the EPA’s payroll.
The US Food and Drug and Administration (FDA), funded by other sources, similarly says it “works tirelessly to protect the public health.” It monitors and regulates pesticides, herbicides, and all manner of other chemicals. 14,000 people are on its payroll, too.
At the national level alone, therefore, oodles of attention is being paid to human and environmental health. Tens of thousands of government employees devote their professional lives to such matters.
Moving down to the state level, each of the 50 states in the union has one or more branch of government concerned about human health, the environment, or both.
California, for example, has its own Department of Public Health. And its own Environmental Protection Agency. And its own Natural Resources Agency. Between them, these last two
oversee the activities of about 40 state departments, boards, and conservancies whose missions are to protect and restore the state’s natural and environmental resources and to ensure public health and environmental quality. [bold added, source here]
The price tag for all that activity is a further $10 billion a year, borne by California’s taxpayers.
The obvious conclusion is that human and environmental health is well protected in America. This is especially the case in the state of California.
So why would the city of San Francisco need its own, full-blown Department of the Environment? Why is it spending tens of millions annually on matters such as biodiversity, climate change, and “environmental justice”?
I pose these questions after reading the full text of that city’s ordinance-in-progress regarding “single-use food ware plastics, toxics, and litter reduction.” This is the legislation that will prohibit plastic straws from being sold within city limits. The New York Times reports it passed unanimously last week, but will be voted on again this week.
That ordinance also bans takeout food containers made with “Fluorinated chemicals, also known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).”
According to the ordinance, the FDA “has rescinded its approval for use of three such florinated chemicals.” Significantly, however, it has not banned the entire category. The national EPA hasn’t done so. Nor has California’s EPA.
But that isn’t good enough for San Francisco, which believes its own cooks should make broth, too.
Human feces and hypodermic needles litter downtown streets. A medical association has decided to hold its annual convention elsewhere due to safety concerns. The New York Times and Fox News agree there’s a ‘homeless crisis.’ But San Francisco’s Department of the Environment has persuaded elected officials to go out on a limb over obscure chemicals in takeout food containers.
TOP TAKEAWAY: Where human and environmental health is concerned, too many publicly-funded cooks are now in the kitchen.
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