Pollution can’t be a local concern


The reason for having a federal pollution agency rather than leaving things to states is that pollution crosses state lines. Particulates from a power plant in North Dakota blow into Minnesota. Mercury and sulfur from coal burned in a plant at Becker, Minn. to light our house in St Paul, rain out over Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and other states to the east. When I flush my toilet, the waste is destined to pass St. Louis and Memphis eventually. Making entirely state-based environmental policy inevitably means that downwind and downstream cities and states will lose out. It also means that the U.S. economy as a whole will produce on balance, fewer goods and services from a given set of available resources that we could. As Americans, we will be poorer in real terms.

"Add to this the complication that technology tends to expand the range and scope of environmental effects."