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Week of 9 December 13: Galloping Regulations

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I used to use the term “creeping regulations” but no more—they are galloping now.  As I reported in PaperMoney® on Tuesday, the EPA announced last week it is looking at over 130 new regulations.  Other government departments in the US and elsewhere seem to be ramping up their regulation writing machines as well.

What is the reason for all of this?  Is the world changing so fast, and indeed it is changing fast, that we need new regulations in a constant stream to control errant players? 

Further, what is the end game?  When do we have enough regulations of everything? 

The Mercedes emblem—a star in a circle seems to be the place to start as we analyze this subject.  As Mercedes explains it, their star points to the three areas where they wish to excel—land and sea (the two downward pointing legs) and the sky, the upward pointing leg.

Regulations seem to fall in these three broad areas as well.  By now, with over four decades of serious regulation writing under our belts—this whole regulation idea started in earnest in the US with President Nixon—you would think nearly everything would be covered.  Again, when does it end?

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Now the EPA wants to regulate every still and moving body of water in the United States, private or public lands, makes no difference.  I think, in the pulp and paper industry this could be named the full employment act for the anaerobic digester manufacturers.  I can’t think of a faster way to get rid of the acres and acres of sludge ponds we find behind most paper mills.  And maybe this is good, who knows?

The Duck Dynasty people are going to have to watch blowing beaver dams out of their swamp, at least on television—the EPA will be after them. 

Seriously, what is the purpose of tighter and tighter regulations?  And what are the consequences of following these new rules?  Duke Power has been building wind turbines, having seen the handwriting on the wall for coal fired power plants.  Now they have had to agree to pay a large fine for killing protected birds which fly into their wind turbines.  This is madness!

Then last week, scientists in Antarctica announced there is an active volcano under the Antarctic ice sheet that they expect to eventually cause significant melting of the ice and consequentially a rising of the oceans.  All of this is going on while (some of us, not me) are wringing our hands over global warming.  So, we are putting humankind through hoops to act differently when it appears that rising oceans will happen no matter what we do.  More madness. 

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What is the cause?  It appears to me that humans have no idea how to harness the explosion of scientific knowledge of the past quarter millennia.  At first we made things, many of which helped mankind, some of which harmed the earth and mankind.  A half a century ago, the pendulum swung the other way, and we are now running around trying to put the genie back in the bottle, but that effort is as poorly thought out and misguided as the original exploitation of all this knowledge.

What is the solution?  I wish I knew. I can give you a prediction—chaos induced by the explosion of scientific knowledge will continue.  I’ll also give you a caution: anyone who tells you they have their arms around the whole situation knows not of what they speak.  The knowledge pool and the growth of the knowledge pool are both too vast to grasp at the moment.  Throw in the fearful, the exploiters and the politicians and you have a real mess on your hands.  Add Mother Nature’s hidden surprises under the Antarctic and the situation is even more amusing.

It would be fun to watch us humans scurrying around and trying to control all these matters if one could do it from a distance, say about the distance of Alpha Centauri.  Being on the surface of this old ball where all the silliness is happening merely makes it disconcerting, to say the least.

So what is your perception of the regulation burden in your locale? Let us know in this week's quiz.

For safety this week, I’ll suggest you focus on the basics—keeping your fellow toiler injury free.  No regulations required to do that.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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business, communications, Georgia, Jim Thompson, mill, paper, pulp, safety

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