Environmental Policy Principles
All businesses should be required to operate their business in a way that does not significantly degrade the quality of the environment. Simply put, businesses should try to operate in as much of a closed system as feasible. They should internalize all negative externalities by either doing what it takes to prevent these externalities from negatively affecting the environment or by paying a penalty for allowing them to affect the environment. All these costs would naturally be incorporated into the prices of products and services produced by these businesses.0 Comments
There ought to exist an environmental scale in which every parcel of land of any size could be graded on a scale of 1 through 100 in which 1 would be the most natural, anthropogenically untouched environment and 100 would be an environment which is totally polluted, destroyed, and changed by human activities. Larger sections of land with many parcels of different environmental grades lying within it would be graded by taking the weighted average environmental grade of all these parcels to determine the overall grade for that larger section.
Constructing maps showing the environmental grades received by each parcel of land would enable people to quickly assess the degree and spatial distribution of human influences on the natural environment. Governments could set zoning policies defining how far from ‘natural’ lands are permitted to be managed. For example, an entire area dedicated as a Nature Preserve could be prohibited from having an average environmental grade higher than 5 points on this scale, while Nature Conserves could be allowed a deviation of up to 10 points from what would otherwise be the environment in its ‘natural’ state (being defined as a grade of 1 on this scale). The Sarcophagus structure entombing the destroyed Unit 4 nuclear reactor near Chernobyl, Ukraine, would probably qualify as a 100 or very near to it because the area is virtually permanently contaminated with huge amounts of long-lived radioactive pollution, the site also contains almost entirely manmade materials, and it consists of a built up structure whose permeability, albedo, thermal mass, and other qualities are different than what could be expected if that land were to have been left in a purely natural state.
Some anthropogenic influences such as air and light pollution cannot realistically be prevented from crossing the boundaries of any protected area, thus causing a degradation of the protected area, or at least portions of it, and thus causing it to deviate from a purely ‘natural’ grade. Therefore, while all grades should fully reflect all negative human alterations of the natural environment, policy decisions firmly requiring a grade of 1 on this environmental deviation scale may not be the most practical thing to do because of this kind of spillover effect. Rather, it may be better to make policies based upon the ‘natural’ environment plus any ‘unavoidably’ intrusive environmental pollutants.
Alternatively, this spillover effect could be factored into such land grades with just the assumption that these lands are anavoidably altered and affected because of pollution spilling over from adjoining lands.
Using such a grading scale, governments could fairly and meaningfully fine or tax landowners for exceeding the allowable environmental deviation limit by a clear, quantitative amount.
Environmental Preservation & Development Limits
All lands intended for the preservation of the natural environment (against permanent agricultural, residential, commercial or industrial developments) should be given one of the first three classifications that would more clearly indicate their degree of environmental protection: the Preserve, the Conserve or Protected Area, and the Park.
- The Preserve would be the most protective level of classification and would involve the virtual total preservation of the environment, attempting to keep it in its naturally pristine condition. In these Preserves, extremely limited infrastructures would be allowed. This would include no roads, electrical, plumbing, or other utility lines, no maintained clearings for campgrounds, and nothing else that would either aesthetically, physically, or biologically infringe on the natural state of the environment. No more than one-tenth of one percent (.1%) would be allowed to be permanently developed. The only possible exception may be minimally maintained trails and perhaps markers or signs scattered throughout the Preserve to aid people in navigation. Very few people, who have obtained the proper permits and passed educational classes which deal with living in harmony with the environment and the penalties for failing to do so, would be allowed to permanently live in such areas. These people, and perhaps others, may engage in subsistence food gathering and hunting after obtaining the proper educational classes and permits. However, to make such Preserves more visually accessible and enjoyable to the public, perhaps very silent and unobtrusive monorail systems could be built throughout some areas of the Preserve on tall columns so that the whole system would operate with a minimal footprint, minimal noise pollution and minimal tree trimming maintenance requirements. In fact, these monorail systems could be merely part of regular long distance mass transportation networks that travel through such areas without stopping at stations.
- The second level of lands classification is the Conserve or Protected Area. Permitted on lands under this classification would be infrastructures such as campgrounds, bathroom facilities, limited paved roads, electrical, water, and gas lines, maintained hiking trails and bicycle paths, etc. The goal is to conserve as much of the natural environment as possible, while allowing for broad, low-impact human enjoyment. No more than 10% of the total area dedicated as a Conserve should be allowed to be permanently developed.
- Finally, in the third level of classification there would be the Parks that would allow the use of motorized watercrafts, off road motor vehicles, they could offer maintained grassy play areas, paved roads and bike paths, play equipment, and allow the use of other recreational aids and permit virtually any recreational activity.
Adjective words such as Nature, Natural, Historical, Archeological, etc., should be included in the names of protected areas to denote the kinds of lands they are. More descriptive nouns could also be used such as Seashore, Lakeshore, River, Parkway, Trail, Battlefield, Cemetery, Monument, etc.
Archeological or historical human monuments, or Battlefields, etc., which are not natural environments per se, are worthy of similar levels of protection, even up to a Preserve, because they also are intended to be protected from human induced alteration.
The adjectives International, National, State, County, or even City should also be included in the names of each of the relevant protected areas so people know which level of government was responsible for creating it.
Developments and permanent human habitation should be allowed within all environmentally protected lands, though they would be most restrictive for Preserves. However, all such developments must remain within a maximum deviation of ‘natural’ established by the controlling governing authority. For example, if the maximum allowable degree of anthropogenic deviation from the natural environment is 10 points for an entire area dedicated as a Conserve or Protected Area, the weighted average of all establishments and landowners occupying 100% of that Conserve cannot exceed this limit of 10 points.
In other words, even very protected areas could allow small scale residential and commercial developments so long as all forms of pollution including water, noise and light pollution are mitigated to sufficient degrees. Developments should also fully treat all their sewage and not have large impermeably paved areas (roads, parking lots, etc). Such developments should operate in as much of a closed system as possible. Perhaps taxes could be applied based on the degree of deviation from ‘natural’ that each parcel is deemed to be. This should incentivize the management of lands under increasing levels of protected status, thereby more effectively controlling future developments and creating powerful tendencies to reduce negative human influences on the environment.
Preserving Agricultural Land From Residential/Commercial/Industrial Development
Also needed is a mechanism that would facilitate the preservation of agricultural land, which generally has less of a negative environmental footprint than residential, commercial or industrial developments. More levels of land designation should be added to the list of three designations above.
- An Agricultural lands category could be used to describe any lands that are being used as to grow crops for human or animal use. This would include land used to grow seasonal crops or permanent crops such as orchards or vineyards. Meadows and pastures used for anthropogenic activities (such as for grazing domesticated cattle), would also be classified as agricultural.
- Residential lands would be used for residential purposes.
- Commercial lands would be reserved for commercial purposes.
- Industrial lands would be used for industrial purposes.
The general idea is to try to keep as much land as possible classified in the top rankings so as to maintain as much stability as possible in the environment. Since environmental damage occurs with virtually every human interaction with the environment, often contributing to extirpations, extinctions or other longterm alterations which are often not noticed until long after the effects are difficult or impossible to reverse, this policy of attempting to keep as many parcels of land in a state as close to natural as possible, is perhaps the best policy for prevention and conservation of the natural world.0 Comments
Parties responsible for the pollution of an environment should be required to clean it up, pay someone else to clean it up, and/or to have purchased insurance that would cover at least some of the liabilities arising during such pollution events. The degree of cleanup required would vary according to the particular facts of each case, but generally, polluted environments should be required to be restored, as much as practical, to their condition before the pollution event.
Furthermore, a punitive penalty would be assessed which is a multiple of the total cost of cleaning and restoring the environment to its condition prior to the pollution event. However, this punitive penalty multiple would be based on the particular facts of the case, including the degree of negligence, cooperation with authorities, history of the company in similar matters, sensitivity of the environment suffering damage, and other relevant aspects. If the environment was deliberately polluted, the punitive penalty multiple applied would be significantly larger.
In all cases, if, as a result of damage due to the pollution, lands that were used for revenue purposes (including tourism) were no longer able to produce the same amount of earnings, the difference between the actual earnings and the projected earnings should be multiplied by a certain punitive multiple and paid to all parties affected for up to 25 years after the date of damage or contamination or for however long the land was projected to earn revenues, whichever financial cost is less.0 Comments
All chemicals (old or new) that are incorporated into any anthropogenic product must pass basic environmental health safety tests and be placed on a ‘clean’ list of approved chemicals. Of course, such a list would be graduated with chemicals being categorized according to their various environmental effects and regulated accordingly.
Such a list would be referred to by anyone else who is in the market for a new chemical to use in any other product and they would automatically be able to use any chemicals on such a ‘clean’ list without further regulatory approval.
The default government regulatory position should be for all new chemicals to automatically be placed on a ‘prohibited’ list until such chemicals have passed the proper human and environmental safety tests. The chemicals which have passed would then be placed on the ‘clean’ list, eligible for use.0 Comments
US military facilities and operations on both domestic and foreign lands anywhere in the world should be required to comply with all environmental laws that everybody else in the US private sector must obey. During wartime, any environmental regulations could be weakened if the military could prove that they would significantly inhibit the effectiveness of the military objectives. The only major exception to the compliance of environmental regulations during peacetime should be in the area of atmospheric emissions due to the inherent performance reduction effects that air pollution control equipment would have on aircraft and other mobile powerplants. However, fixed powerplants must abide by the normal air emission standards.
The US military should make every reasonable effort to abide by any more stringent environmental protection standards set by the jurisdictions in which they operate, either in other countries or within the various states of the United States, unless those regulations are unreasonable or significantly threaten military performance or readiness.
The United States should also be responsible for the cleanup of any intentional or accidental pollution at any of its facilities or sites of operation. Such cleanup operations should return the site, at a minimum, to within acceptable environmental standards as specified in domestic US environmental law or the law of the jurisdition in which it is operating, whichever is more stringent.
The United States should not hide behind protections offered by any statute of limitations rules or current ownership or property title disputed in order to avoid the responsibility of cleaning up any environmental messes for which it was clearly responsible at any time in the past.
The US military should not be obligated to cleanup any unintended pollution caused as a result of direct or indirect offensive or defensive military actions, but should attempt to make a good faith effort to minimize such environmental disruptions and rectify them if the costs are insignificant or minor.0 Comments
A pollutant or contaminant found within an environment should be defined as excessive, thus requiring action to reduce its concentration, only when its concentration in an area exceeds, by a certain multiple, its average concentration across its entire political jurisdiction (usually at the county level). Currently, many “maximum acceptable pollution concentration” regulations are based mainly upon the degree of harm such concentrations cause to biological organisms. Often, however, these limits are nearly the same or even lower than natural background levels. Depending on the distribution and nature of the pollutant, the type (i.e., size) of political jurisdictions used to construct an average would vary. Rarely would jurisdictions smaller than counties be used (cities, special districts, etc.) because they may just be too geographically small to calculate a reliable average of normal background pollutant levels. Counties may be the most appropriate jurisdiction to use because most land and watershed pollutants tend to be caused by point sources and remain within relatively small areas. Counties are also large enough to provide a statistically reliable sample for background pollution levels, but not so large that a geographically extensive sampling of pollution levels need to be mounted, at least for most pollutants, especially point source ones. However, widespread pollutants may require the use of state or perhaps even national averages to determine ‘normal’ background levels.
Generally, pollutants averaged over the predetermined geographic area should not require specific action to reduce it if its levels in all areas (within this predetermined geographic area) are at less than one standard deviation from normal. If an area has levels higher than one standard deviation, then specific action could be warranted to reduce the pollutant’s concentration in that location.
Pollutants defined as being ‘excessive’ in one jurisdiction could be reduced by increasing the penalty for each unit of that pollutant that is released within the jurisdiction. If it is found that the emission of a pollutant from one jurisdiction is causing ‘excessive’ readings in another, then the penalty per unit of that pollution should also be increased in the originating jurisdiction.0 Comments
Satellite owners should be required to remove their litter from space when it is no longer used. The owners of retired satellites and the generators of other space debris of any size larger than 1 centimeter (unless the debris was generated by accident) should be charged a space litter penalty based on the threat that such space junk may have on active space operations (which is a function of the debris’ orbital altitude and other orbital characteristics, size, and tracking difficulty). Generally, the minimum fee should be $1,000 per piece of debris. Such space litter fees should be charged quarterly starting with the quarter beginning after the one-year anniversary date of the object’s classification as litter.
Governments (overseen by an accepted international authority) should build a high-powered, pulsed laser debris ablation system that would consist of a series of high-altitude, ground-based laser facilities around the globe, including perhaps also space-based laser satellites. In conjunction with the financial penalty schedule stated above, all space debris would be consistently maintained to low enough levels to ensure an reliably minimum degree of risk to space operations.0 Comments
Excreting/exchanging of bodily material (fluids/solids) should be done in private. Some examples: going to the bathroom, passionate kisses, sexual intercourse, breastfeeding, spitting (on anything other than vegetation or surfaces not commonly walked on), etc.
It should be illegal to relieve oneself (urinate or defecate) in any place that is not specifically designed for such activities, unless it is an emergency and no facilities exist nearby. Regardless, relieving oneself without taking sufficient measures to conceal oneself from the view of others should constitute a crime punishable by $500.
Also, relieving oneself should be prohibited on all paved (sidewalks, roads, etc.) or maintained (grass, flowerbeds, etc.) grounds, unless sufficient measures were taken to adequately clean up the mess.
Leaving liquid bodily wastes behind in unapproved locations without an intention to clean it up within a reasonable period of time should be punishable by a $1,000 fine. Leaving solid bodily wastes behind without an intention to clean it up within a reasonable period of time should be punishable by a $2,000 fine.
In wilderness areas, the relieving of oneself should be allowed only at a distance of more than 10 meters ‘off the beaten path’ and only if solid wastes are sufficiently buried or otherwise covered up. Insufficiently treated or distant wastes would constitute a crime punishable by $250.0 Comments
Garbage/trash should be treated as private property, particularly when inside garbage containers, even when they are placed on public property, such as at curbside. Trespassing or digging through any type of garbage that is not one’s own or without the proper permission, even if the garbage is meant to be recycled, should be treated as burglary. Anything taken should be treated as theft.0 Comments
Local building codes should not force homebuilders to build homes with their front sides facing the street if the edge of the proposed home is 50 meters or more away from the property line of the next-door neighbor along the same street. This minimum distance requirement would allow non-uniform housing layouts to be less aesthetically taxing than if houses were right next to each other as in standard neighborhoods. It would also allow developers to take better advantage of solar energy and other environmental benefits as well as alleviating some of the frustrating restrictions associated with home design and building.0 Comments
All houses, apartment buildings, and businesses that have significant landscaping on their properties should be required to also have at least one external electrical outlet so that gardeners or homeowners could use such outlets to power electrical gardening equipment (mowers, edgers, blowers, etc.). This requirement would help make it a little more convenient to use electrical gardening equipment which in turn would help cut both air and noise pollution.0 Comments