To The Daily Sun,
Most of our citizens haven't a clue as to what the Department of Energy does. They would be hard pressed to answer either of those questions. Rick Perry lacks the needed background to give a comprehensive answer himself, but he will soon try to take charge and lead it into the future.
Under the previous administration a great deal of progress was made in improving environmental considerations. The air is purer, our streams are cleaner and nations around the world are addressing the CO2 problem. The question now is where do we go from here; backward or forward?
Let's examine some of the much maligned regulations. The Clean Water Act, with all its restrictions and tests for purity, has not been without it detractors. Lots of water-polluting businesses had to clean up their act (no pun intended). In New England, the leather, textile and paper industries found EPA regulations particularly onerous. Instead of complying with the regulations, the textile mills fled to the South first and eventually overseas where they began manufacturing for import to the United States. Most of the products were cheaper and of lesser quality. Leather manufacturing followed a similar pattern. Because of the nature of the raw material the men who cut the trees have been able to convert to wood pellet and biomass production or continuing to furnish lumber for the building trades.
Clean air regulations are the bane of the smokestack industries. Everyone likes clean air. What's not to like. Unfortunately the steel, copper, lead and fuel refiners failed to keep up with available technology. The regulations were designed to allow a phase-in period. Instead, as with the others described, they fled overseas. Although coal is a fuel, it is a category by itself. I'll save that hot potato for another letter.
The last topic in this energy discussion is what the department has done to, with and for automobile emission standards. Fuel refining for cars and trucks was affected on both ends of the process. Refining is a dirty process with lots of byproducts and the waste stream needs to be monitored closely. Once refined, the final product must be of a specific quality. A continuous improvement in quality is expected because the car and truck makers must meet an efficiency target set by the EPA.
In closing, the one environment that we have is the only we've got. There are no borders on it. Any source of pollution needs to be evaluated and eliminated if possible. We are part of the big, international environment and cannot simply turn our back on it because it surrounds us. It may also choke or poison us if we don't care enough to clean it up properly.