John Stossel
Environmental activists and politicians would like you to think that we must love their regulations -- or hate trees and animals.

I love trees and animals.

But you can love nature and still hate the tyranny that environmental regulations bring.

The Environmental Protection Agency just announced it will boost gas prices ("only" a penny, although industry says 6 to 9 cents) to make another minuscule improvement to air quality.

In New York City, my mayor wants to ban Styrofoam cups, saying, "I think it's something we can do without."

Congress already dictates the design of our cars, toilets and light bulbs.

Originally, environmental rules were a good thing. I love the free market, but it doesn't offer a practical remedy to pollution. I could sue polluters for violating my property rights, but under our legal system, that's not even close to practical.

So in the '70s, government passed rules that demanded we stop polluting the air and water. Industry put scrubbers in smokestacks. Towns installed sewage treatment. Now the air is quite clean, and I can swim in the rivers around Manhattan.

But government didn't stop there. Government never stops. Now that the air is cleaner, government spends even more than it spent to clean the air to subsidize feeble methods of energy production, like windmills and solar panels. Activists want even more spending. A few years back, the Center for American Progress announced they were upset that "Germany, Spain and China Are Seizing the Energy Opportunity ... the United States Risks Getting Left Behind."

In this case, we're better off "left behind." After spending billions, those European governments made no breakthroughs, and now they're cutting back.

The Endangered Species Act was another noble idea. We all want to save polar bears. But now the bureaucrats make it almost impossible for some people to improve their own property.

Louisiana landowner Edward Poitevent wants to build homes and offices north of Lake Pontchartrain. He could provide safe high-ground housing to people eager to move away from areas that were flooded during Hurricane Katrina. But he is not allowed to build because the government decided 1,500 acres of his land should become a preservation area for a threatened species called the dusky gopher frog. None of these frogs currently live on his property. Poitevent told me, "The Fish and Wildlife Service has certified that the frog has not been seen in the state of Louisiana since 1967."


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate