The environmental industrial complex

3/15/2014 7:00 AM

Everyone older than 50 years old should remember the farewell address, delivered in 1960, by President Eisenhower where he warned the nation about the “Military Industrial Complex (MIC).” Here was a retired, five-star general who was instrumental in winning WWII, warning the nation of the dangers of our military and their suppliers. He believed we faced grave problems if things kept going the way they were going. He was a smart, well-informed man who really knew what he was talking about. Sadly, not many listened.

It is now 2014 and there is a new, highly entrenched industry that we all should be worried about. I am calling it the “Environmental Industrial Complex (EIC).” Just like the MIC, the EIC is a danger to all of us but with a very important difference. The MIC, at the end of the day, made/makes us all safer. While declaring daily their desire for clean everything, the EIC now appears in too many cases to be simply increasing the cost of doing business and eliminating jobs. Hysteria, based on “science” that is too often dubious at best, is designed to keep emotions high and those dollars flowing.

In a recent conversation I asked, “When will such-n-such be clean enough?” Once the laughter subsided, the answer was provided ... “Never!”

Being naive I asked, “What do you mean, Never’?” To which the answer boiled down to the fact that for the organizations involved to stay in business, the necessary cleanup can never be achieved. There will always be new, serious problems to take care of, where new laws and a few billion dollars will save the day.

All this, of course, got me to thinking. Has the environment improved to the point that environmentalism is no longer about cleanup, health and safety, but rather about simply making money and EIC continuation?

I can recall stories told to me by my Dad about the rivers in Pittsburgh catching on fire from all of the pollution. That was bad and, of course, had to be dealt with. Today, Pittsburgh is a very clean city and certainly a better place because of the cleanup. But having said this, there are those who believe it can and should be cleaner, regardless of the cost. And this is my issue with the EIC.

America is a very rich country. But can we afford the cost associated with the impossible goal of 100 percent environmental purity?

Given that the EIC has taken the battle for our tax dollars and what they call “environmental responsibility” to our schools, where they present environmental hypotheses as facts to our children, I doubt my words will strike much of a chord. It is only with those who try to do something, where they must do seemingly endless environmental studies, at great cost, that my point will be understood. I just hope that it is not your land that is made unproductive or your project that becomes cost prohibitive or your job that is eliminated, as the EIC strives for their theoretically perfect environment through the use of our money.

Editor’s note: Michael Evanish is the manager of MSC Business Services, a member service of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. For more information, call 717-731-3517.

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