To Regulate or Not to Regulate?
[Rachel's Introduction: "These bills are efforts to implement a particularly toxic version of the precautionary principle without actually mentioning it for public discussion and debate. It's a version that presumes chemicals and technology are guilty until proven innocent."]
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By Jon Reisman
Gov. John Baldacci, Rep. Ted Koffman and Rep.Hannah Pingree have a legacy they wish to bestow on Maine -- the green nanny state.

And it looks like they've got a pretty good chance of getting their wish.

Koffman, the term-limited chairman of the Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources, has sponsored the Governor's Bill LD 2210, An Act To Promote the Use of Safer Chemicals in Consumer Products. The bill "... requires a manufacturer or a distributor of a product that contains a toxic, carcinogenic or very bioaccumulative chemical to disclose information on its chemical use if the Board of Environmental Protection designates the chemical as a priority chemical. Upon review of the information, the board then may adopt rules banning the sale of a product that contains the chemical." The fiscal note on this one should be very interesting. For some reason, it hasn't been posted yet.

Pingree, who is, depending on who you believe, the Speaker/Governor/Senator/Eco-Warrior-in-waiting, is a co-sponsor. She is also the lead sponsor of LD 2048, An Act To Protect Children's Health and the Environment from Toxic Chemicals in Toys and Children's Products. That bill "... requires manufacturers of children's products that contain chemicals of high concern to disclose information to the Department of Environmental Protection on their chemical use if the department designates the chemical as a priority chemical based on potential exposure of a child or fetus to that chemical.

The bill authorizes the department to require replacement of a priority chemical in children's products with a safer alternative "whenever it determines that a safer alternative is available for a specified use."

These bills are efforts to implement a particularly toxic version of the precautionary principle without actually mentioning it for public discussion and debate. It's a version that presumes chemicals and technology are guilty until proven innocent.

It's a highly risk-averse and anti-entrepreneurial value set, one that already has greatly damaged Maine's economy and prospects for the future. And it's a stubborn conviction that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, government control of the economy can efficiently and effectively sustain us.

The green nanny state is not sustainable, but it doesn't matter if its advocates are never held accountable for their disastrous policy choices.

The governor and legislative Democrats are in control. The environmental left has been incrementally pushing the Green Nanny State for 25 years, and they have the votes, mainstream media, political wan-nabes and public opinion to put this into place.

If history is any guide, they won't be held accountable for it. In fact, they may even be rewarded. If our state nanny is Mary Poppins, it may work out, but I rather fear it's more likely to be Nurse Ratched, (the diabolical nurse of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,") controlling our lives and facilitating a lobotomy.

Jon Reisman teaches environmental policy at the University of Maine at Machias and statewide over the Web.

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