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Viewpoint – Bad green regulation is harmful
By Elizabeth Nickson on March 13, 2013
Rather than answer Greg Spendjian’s extensive complaints last week about my earlier column on Land Use Bylaw 355, (which apparently one is not permitted to question), I would refer him and other complainants to my recently published book, Eco-Fascists; How Radical Conservationists Are Destroying Our Natural Heritage.
Therein he will find a great deal of properly performed research around the issues I brought up in the disputed column, especially that much green regulation satisfies and pleases the comfortable and educated middle class because the costs do not fall on them, but on the working class, young families and the elderly who pay for that regulation by a diminishment of their lives.
The book was commissioned by one of the most distinguished editors working today, Adam Bellow, Saul Bellow’s son, who has his own imprint at Harper Collins in New York. Adam Bellow’s intent as a publisher is serious, as is mine as writer. As a result, the book received extensive vetting, and a rigorous copy edit, after which an independent fact checker was hired, and the corporation’s lawyer (himself a confessed man of the left) was so shocked, he took six weeks to further check my work.
Upon publication, the National Center for Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. was surprised enough by my findings they sent my original statistical analysis (in which I was aided by Matt Watters, a young statistician on the island and the kind of resident we need) to the National Agricultural Statistics Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for checking. The USDA should not have been inclined to approve my work, because I lay a large part of the blame at their door. But no, they were impressed. As at every stage in this most rigorous of processes, the word came back that I had done a very good job. Subsequently the Mercatus Center, also in D.C., based a November 2012 paper and conference, called From Presumption to Proof, the Future of Regulation, in part, on my work.
Bad green regulation, of which we have a lot on Salt Spring, has many unintended and truly awful consequences, and these latter almost always impact the less advantaged. Bad regulation rarely attaches a cost analysis to its implementation. Employment loss is routinely under-estimated and trivialized and the benefits of many regulations go disproportionally to wealthier households while the costs fall more on lower-income households. An extensive examination of the harm caused by bad green regulation can be found in the above-cited paper, and in Eco-Fascists.
Let me reiterate that I live in a carbon-neutral rammed earth house and I have covenanted half my property. A salmon enhancement pond sits at the intersection of my creeks. I want good green regulation that increases human health and wealth, which I argue are strongly linked, but I want data, not utopian or fear-based projections. I want genuine harm demonstrated in the real world before I vote to choke the lives of the less fortunate.
Our culture has come a long way using evidence-based management; any other way is pure folly. Hard evidence — audits of forests, ranges, watercourses and rural lives — is now showing the extent of that folly.
Not having an indexed government pension, I appear to have about four jobs, and cannot enter into an extended debate with my critics, unless they read the book, at which point, I’d be happy to oblige.
And the sneering attitude and ad hominem attacks of Mr. Spendjian form the reason that we cannot have a civil dialogue about very real problems on the island. His piece was a form of bullying; I am used to it and can tolerate it. Most people cannot and are thereby silenced.

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