In my latest reading of M. Stanton Evans' Clear and Present Dangers: A Conservative View of America's Government (copyright 1975), I finished the chapter on the environment, read the chapter on the energy crisis, and started the chapter on civil liberties. I have two items, and I will focus in this post on the environment and energy.
This first item is about the environment, but it will also refer to
information that's in the chapter on the energy crisis. Yesterday,
I said that Evans expressed apprehension about the types of substances
that could replace lead in gasoline, fearing that those substances could
be more hazardous than lead. In my latest reading, Evans elaborates on
this. On page 240, Evans says that the catalytic converters
that are supported by the Environmental Protection Agency change sulfur
into sulfates, which "are potentially quite dangerous to people with
respiratory ailments----as lead, for example, is not." Evans later
discusses a similar scenario, in which the federal government
recommended that detergent manufacturers replace phosphates with a
substance known as NTA, on the ground that phosphates have negative
environmental affects in that they cause algae to proliferate in lakes
(actually, in this sentence, I'm combining what Evans says with what this article
says). According to Evans, NTA itself was problematic because it
"caused birth defects in rats" and was believed by a former Surgeon
General (Jesse Steinfeld) to possibly cause cancer (page 241).
Moreover, Evans states that certain non-phosphates that were "marketed
in place of phosphates" could "cause damage if splashed in the eyes or
swallowed", and some "destroyed the flame-retardant qualities of
infants' clothes" (page 241). In contrast, Evans states, phosphates had
a "rather wholesome record" in that they were not known to harm anyone
On DDT, Evans argues that banning it has resulted in more malaria-related deaths.
where Evans' discussion of the environment intersects with his comments
on the energy crisis, Evans on page 255 refers to a 1972 report by the
Office of Science and Technology estimating that environmental
regulations and environmental protection equipment will be costly for
businesses, and that there are many areas in the country in which such
equipment is unnecessary. According to Evans, the report also says that
pressuring businesses with time-limits hinders them from developing
better technology that is good for the environment.
page 253, Evans argues that government regulations have resulted in
gas-guzzling cars, which are inappropriate when the country supposedly
has an energy crisis. Evans says that EPA-mandated
emission-control equipment reduces gas mileage and that the push to
remove lead from gasoline "meant that fuel for efficient
high-compression engines became appreciably more expensive."
Evans may have legitimate arguments on the environment. I don't know enough to comment one way or the other.
I will say, though, that my impression has been that liberals tend to
support fuel-efficient cars, whereas there are a number of conservatives
and Republicans who glorify gas-guzzling SUVs and believe that
stringent fuel-efficiency standards hurt the economy. But was that
always the case?
2. Regarding the energy crisis, Evans
advances a variety of arguments. He argues that government
price-controls on natural gas has discouraged development and
contributed to demand outstripping supply (page 250), yet he also
contends that they have hurt the coal industry, which cannot effectively
compete against the low price of natural gas (page 251). Is this
contradictory, or can both be true?
Pages 256-259 had some interesting discussions. Evans
says that the U.S. produces 75 percent of its own energy needs, while
getting only 8.1 percent from Middle Eastern and North African imports
(Evans refers to the October 29, 1973 U.S. News and World Report);
that domestic production increased since the protectionist policies of
Eisenhower; and that oil profits have been modest compared with other
industries. Evans is arguing against the narrative that oil
companies are deliberately creating shortages in order to boost
profits. Evans is open to the notion that oil companies are "shipping
oil to foreign nations" and are "holding back supplies to wait for
better prices" (page 257), but he believes that lifting government price
controls could ameliorate this situation, as the lifting of price
controls on meat resulted in more meat being brought to the market and
thereby a reduction in meat prices.
On page 260, Evans refers to
Chase Manhattan's insight that taxes have inhibited oil companies from
keeping up with their capital needs, and so it's no surprise that
petroleum is "in short supply" (Chase Manhattan's words).
thing about the last observation, though, is that an energy bill passed
during President George W. Bush's Presidency gave energy companies tax
credits, and yet the price of gasoline remains high.