Posted by | January 14, 2014 17:55 | Filed under: Contributors Opinion Planet Stuart Shapiro Top Stories

The contamination of the Elk River (pictured) in West Virginia is being blamed on insufficient regulation of water safety:

Last week’s major chemical spill into West Virginia’s Elk River, which cut off water to more than 300,000 people, came in a state with a long and troubled history of regulating the coal and chemical companies that form the heart of its economy.

“We can’t just point a single finger at this company,” said Angela Rosser, the executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “We need to look at our entire system and give some serious thought to making some serious reform and valuing our natural resources over industry interests.”

She said lawmakers have yet to explain why the storage facility was allowed to sit on the river and so close to a water treatment plant that is the largest in the state.

Speaker Boehner has another theory:

He suggested the incident was not the result of less environmental and energy regulation but of the Obama administration’s failure to enforce existing rules.

To be honest, I don’t know whether regulation is insufficient or enforcement of regulation is to blame, but I’d be more likely to believe the Speaker if he was actually willing to increase funding to EPA and other agencies charged with enforcing the law.

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Copyright 2014 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.