New Ways to Weigh Economy vs. Environment

July 13th, 2010
Article #471

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A longstanding debate is again heating up. The debate, that is, over whether a nation, state, or community should favor job creation and economic gain over benefits such as environmental protection and public health.

One example, as I write this in May 2010, is raging in California over implementation of a law that would slash the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. A proposed ballot petition would delay the law until California’s current unemployment rate is cut by more than half. One side’s research says the law could cost 1.1 million jobs, and the other side’s findings claim the law would reduce California’s overall fuel expenses $3.8 billion by 2020.

On the local turf more familiar to planning commissioners, my community is engaged in an increasingly vituperative spat over installation of a gravel pit operation, to be situated across the street from an upscale subdivision. The battle is characterized as jobs and economy versus public health and “quality of life.”

I would expect that you, along with any seasoned planning commissioner, have had to wrestle with some form of this debate. Take heart: We’re increasingly seeing means by which we can escape, or at least minimize, the toxic charges and counter charges common to these tiffs.

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