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Re: [greenyes] RE: [CRRA] Comments on White Papers

I'm no waste wonk, but it seems to me that the obvious problem with recycling and related activities is that the costs are more fully monetized than the benefits.

There is some analogy to the deregulation of the electricity business. This was done, essentially, at the behest of particular interests who did not want to help pay for the externalities of fuel extraction and burning (pollution, land destruction.....). Electric dereg happened without any real input from the policy types who could have (I hope!) predicted the consequences: the death of "integrated resource planning," the fading away of "demand side" investments, and so on. Now we are left with all sorts of big industrial users getting cheap power, but no real framework for dealing with the larger problems.

Back to garbage: One can argue that the actual health and environmental costs of dumping and burning aren't on the books, and if they were "zero waste" would be a much easier sell. This is probably obvious to most of the readers of this list. Electric wonks (Tellus...) argued at great length that if suitable externality costs were put on the books, market mechanisms could be made to produce reasonable outcomes. Consultants collected millions to refine and assert these intellectually convincing arguments. But as far as I know it was not possible to get more than token externality charges properly attached in any of the sixty-some utility regulatory jurisdictions in the US. We certainly can't get it done now under "dereg."

These costs are just not on the books in any commonly recognized way. Who really thinks her medical insurance bill is too high because her electric and garbage collection bills are too low?

So the question bothering me is not so much "what should we do" as "how do we get there?"

Hmmm..a rant that should be deleted?

Alan Muller

Alan Muller, Executive Director
Green Delaware
Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731 USA
fax (302)836-3005

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