A Libertarian’s Take On Earth Day

Earth Day. The day we celebrate the Earth and how to keep her clean. I’m odd. Unlike a lot of Libertarians, I consider myself an environmentalist. I’m not alone either. Where Libertarian environmentalists diverge from other environmentalists is how we seek to accomplish that goal. Since our overall political goal is the end of regulations on the whole, many can’t fathom how we can be for the Earth and against regulation at the same time. Well, don’t try to fathom any more. I’m going to explain it to you.

First, I believe that the government has no business regulating anything. The United States Constitution outlines what the federal government can and can’t do, and regulate the environment isn’t on the list. While I want to keep the planet clean, I don’t want the government stepping in and telling us what we can and can’t do to accomplish this goal. If for no other reason than because they suck at it.

However, I believe that the best way to get people to “go green” is to make it more cost effective for them. Fluorescent light bulbs use less energy, which not only means less coal being burned to run them, but less overall cost on your utility bill. The same is true of maximum insulation. “Greenscaping” roofs, or basically turning a building’s roof into a garden, also provides a lot of insulation and does wonders to reduce costs.

Environmentalists typically agree that coal producing power plants are among the worst polluters out there. However, regulations make it difficult for companies to replace them with anything cost effective. Nuclear power and hydroelectric, to power sources that don’t release toxins into the air are usually contested by communities. Nuclear power has it’s own issues that I don’t have time to discuss, but hydroelectric? It’s a dam. It creates lakes and electricity. Unless eminent domain is used to seize lands for the lake, I don’t see where the problem is.

Also, because coal has to be purchased to fuel the plants, it maintains an expense that could be eliminated with things like wind power or solar power. While the initial outlay of cash will be high, all that will be required is maintence costs. Since those have to be paid on any kind of power plant, it simply means a minimal cost.

Now, some argue that these power sources aren’t perfected enough to replace coal. OK. Fine by me. Clean coal will do the trick in the mean time, and advertising as using clean coal should build up some brownie points with the community. Remember, NONE of this should be regulated, but be voluntary. Companies are always looking to improve the bottom line, and environmental measures can definitely do the trick. A non-profit that looked to convince companies of this and to help them implement these plans sounds like a great solution to me. It keeps the government out of the environmental game, it helps clean up the planet, and helps save people money. What’s not to like?

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