While I'm sure many of you are aware of my heavily anti-interference and pro-individual-rights stances, I'm also an advocate of animal (and plant) rights, and these must be taken into account.
So, in light of recent events, here's my ideal solution for protecting the rights of 'the environment'* as well as the people.
*By rights of the environment, I really mean the living things within the environment.
Environmentally risky activities would still be allowed to continue, but they would be heavily regulated to prevent accidents and minimize effects.
1- Government (EPA, supervised by higher-ups) develops mandates for precautions to be taken
2- EPA accredits private-sector environmental certification authorities
3- These certification authorities inspect industrial projects and certify them as following regulations.
Any given industry targeted as being environmentally risky (like oil drilling) would be required to be certified in order to do business (or the government would shut them down and/or ban them from selling their products in the USA).
They would have a choice of several private-sector certification authorities to be certified by.
They could then hire one of these companies to perform inspections which would make sure that all safety regulations -- no matter how cumbersome -- were being followed.
If they passed the inspection, they would be certified for that environmentally risky activity until the next inspection was due.
If they failed the inspection due to a minor fault (such as paperwork not in order), they would be re-inspected after a month. If three consecutive inspections failed, they would be de-certified and be forced to shut down until they fixed the problems.
If they failed the inspection to to a major fault (such as no automatic shut-off valve installed) they would be immediately de-certified and shut down until they fixed all problems and passed a new inspection.
Any facility with an inspection failure within the past 5 years would also need to have random spot-inspections from their certification authority.
Certification Authority Roll:
The certification authority performs all inspections on an industrial plant or activity.
They are required to be accredited by the EPA in order to issue valid certifications.
To be accredited, they'll have to be periodically inspected by the EPA, in two ways:
1- Inspection of their paperwork and methods
2- Random post-inspections of industrial activities: after the certification authority has inspected something, the EPA comes in and does the same inspection. If the EPA finds faults that the certification authority doesn't, then the certification authority will loose it's accreditation, and no longer be able to certify things until they renew their accreditation and pass an inspection.
As long as they pass accreditation inspections, they'll be allowed to operate mostly however they choose.
They'll be able to choose which types of certifications they want to do; a business could specialize only in oil-tanker certification, or they could get qualified to do all types of certifications.
If they lost accreditation for one type of certification, it would only affect that type... But if they lost accreditation for two or more types, they would loose their accreditation for all types.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Government Roll:
The EPA would develop regulations for environmentally risky industries, always erring on the side of far too much caution.
The federal government would provide guidance and feedback as to the regulations and the definition of which industrial activities are environmentally risky.
Once regulations for a given industrial activity are made, they will be published, and an accreditation program will be made for certification authorities who want to be able to certify that activity.
Once at least three certification authorities have passed the accreditation program, the EPA would begin requiring all industrial activities of that type to be certified (within a reasonable time limit, which could be years).
The EPA would also be in charge of shutting down un-certified and de-certified industrial activities. (with help from law enforcement). They would also be able to enforce national import boycotts of any overseas industrial company that didn't comply -- despite any political considerations.
How is it all paid for?
The money originates with the industrial companies.
They pay certification authorities for certification services. (This gives them motivation to not be involved in environmentally risky activities, because it could get expensive.)
Certification authorities make some profit, but they must also pay accreditation fees to the EPA.
The EPA would be funded in two ways:
The accreditation department would be funded by accreditation fees.
The regulation-development department would be funded by taxes.
Why so complicated?
I want to leave industrial companies as much freedom as possible while effectively enforcing strict environmental safety.
While strict regulation and freedom are opposing forces, giving them a choice of different certification authorities at least gives them the freedom to choose how to be regulated.
Different certification authorities could have different pricing, different specialties, and could approach the job with different attitudes.
Having multiple certification authorities also provides competition in that field- which is absolutely essential in maintaining good customer service and keeping prices down.
Why So Harsh/ Why So Lax?
First of all, the safety regulations enforced would be extreme.
> Oil tankers must have triple hulls, spaced no less than 1 meter apart, and filled with oil-proof foam in between. Oil must be stored in compartments of no more than XXXX barrels capacity. Spill containment equipment (booms and small boats) must be carried on board.
> Offshore oil rigs must have an automatic shut-off valve located at sea floor level, constructed in such a way that it will close if power is not continuously supplied to it. Valve must be tested weekly. Close-to-shore rigs must have multiple redundant valves.
> Farm fields using any of XXXX list of chemicals must be surrounded by a moisture-proof berm at least XX feet tall. If water pools inside berm, it must be filtered before being pumped out.
> Timber harvesting operations must plant one tree for every one they cut down. They must leave 1 out of every 10 trees of any given size standing. They must also plant ground cover to combat erosion.
> A fishing operation (combined with other fishing operations present) must never reduce a local fish population of any type by more than 70%. (Both by year and over a 10 year period.) If population in that area gets too low, they must not be harvested until they regain back to 90% of their original numbers.
> An industrial activity will be responsible for 100% of disaster cleanup costs if any regulation was violated. They will be responsible for 50% of all cleanup costs if no regulations were violated. (As determined by the EPA)
Why so harsh? The plants and animals affected have rights just like we do. Since our world doesn't have unlimited resources, we have to balance their rights against our need for resources, however this balance must err on the side of caution, because we can easily cause irreversible damage.
This is part 5 of my Ideal Government for America series.
The series will continue on an as-I-have-spare-time basis until I run out of topics to talk about, and then they will all be consolidated into one, concise vision for the ideal government of the USA, after assimilating comments and advice given from Frihosters, of course.
Excellent plan Ocalhoun. Would be brilliant if it could be legislated. Given all the damage that has occurred and lessons that should have been learned from a number of disasters over the last decade, it is difficult to understand why these regulations have not been legislated and implemented a long time ago as all of it reads exactly as it should be. Probably got to do with the power of the oil companies? Difficult to pass any legislation that may create hardship for them, and would effect their sponsorship of election campaigns?