Why the EPA’s Smack-down Is Good for Clean Tech

July 2, 2015

smokestacksIf you’re a clean tech and wellness advocate, the Supreme Court ruling this week limiting the power of the EPA to regulate toxic emissions at power plants smacks at placing business interests over our health and the environment. Yet the EPA’s new costs limitations can be good for green tech.

How, what, huh? The Supreme Court ruled that the EPA must take cost/benefit analysis into account when enforcing emissions rules under the Clean Air Act, which effectively puts a price tag on our health and well-being.

On the surface it can seem ridiculous to avoid regulating power plants that pollute with mercury and other toxins because of expense.

However, the reality in convincing people to do something about pollution – as well as climate change – often becomes a cost/benefit analysis. Do I get an ROI by putting solar panels on my home, and when? Will that smart thermostat really save me money? How much are those smokestack scrubbers?

Achieving a cost/benefit balance in converting dirty power plants to clean ones will require better and less expensive technologies, and this is what helps drive innovation. Clean and efficiency technologies tend to get cleaner, more efficient, and less expensive to implement over time. What is needed is better technology.

The EPA and other agencies need to take economic benefits into consideration when imposing regulations, whether they limit toxic pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions. This is simply because that’s the case that needs to be made in our capitalistic, business driven society. It’s reality. A stronger case needs to be made that clean tech is profitable – that it’s good for the economy.

Perhaps more importantly, rulings such as limiting the EPA shift the burden of regulating climate change from big ticket items that many seem to be waiting on as a Big Fix, absolving us from personal responsibility. Truth is, there is no Big Fix, and governments are incapable of solving our toughest environmental problems through politics. Action is required at all levels, right down to homes and businesses and people. This is where the clean tech and wellness markets really exist and will thrive.

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