经济学人:绿色乱局 Tangled Up in Green Tape
日期:2012-02-23 14:18

(单词翻译:单击)

PITY the engineers responsible for keeping America’s coal-fired power plants up to standard. a court halted the adoption of new regulations on that would have affected lots of them—just two days before they were due to go into force. The suspended regulations, in turn, were themselves a replacement for an earlier set of rules which had been thrown out by the courts in 2008. The older lot have now been temporarily reinstated, while the court hears various challenges to the new ones. What the outcome will be is anyone’s guess.
可怜的工程师们,他们正为美国燃煤发电厂达到标准而抓狂。去年年底,法院停止采用一项新的法案,在这项法案即将执行的前两天。这项终止的法令是2008年被法院否决的法规的取代版。法院为此受到很多质疑,只能执行更早版本的法规。结果会是什么,仁者见仁智者见智吧。

Similar chaos surrounds another set of rules, these ones governing ozone, which will also affect lots of power plants. In 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed tightening restrictions on ozone—a surprise in itself, since the rules were not due for review until 2013. Late last year the White House overruled the EPA, and junked the new rules. Since the previous set, dating to 2008, had never been implemented, a standard first adopted in 1997 still applies. But environmentalists have sued to put a fiercer one into force. Whatever happens, the Clean Air Act obliges the EPA to reopen the whole subject again next year.
相似混乱的情况也出现在其它法规的制定中,包括对臭氧排放的监控,这些法令也会影响很多发电站。2010年环境保护署(EPA)提议降低排放臭氧的限制,这是一个令人惊讶的决定,因为这项限制措施要到2013年才要复审。去年年底,白宫否决了EPA的这项提案。这是因为自2008年之前的规定还从未真正执行过,一项1997年的标准还正在申请中。但是环保人士要求尽快将其执行。无论还会发生什么,迎来复审的清洁空气法案将迫使EPA明年重新开始工作。

Last year the EPA also issued rules on mercury and soot from power plants. In theory that marked the culmination of a decades-long, on-again-off-again process first initiated by amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990—although further lawsuits seem inevitable. Also in the pipeline are restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases, new rules regarding cooling water and the possible declaration of coal ash as hazardous waste, from which a stream of new requirements would flow.
去年EPA公布对发电站进行汞和烟尘的检测标准。理论上这项标准是数十年来自1990年颁布《清洁空气法》修正案后最高值。尽管这会引来更多的诉讼。同时关于限制排放温室气体,以及对于冷却水和煤灰视为危险废物的政策也在制定中。这样一来,将会出现更多的需求。

Confused? So are the power generators. Conforming to these rules often involves installing new kit or changing the way plants are run, and on occasion shutting them down altogether. That is expensive, utilities complain. The EPA itself estimates that meeting the new mercury standards will cost businesses $10 billion a year. Electricity prices, it reckons, will initially rise by 3% a year as a result. It puts the cost of the interstate air pollution rule at $2.4 billion a year, and of the ozone rule (if it is ever implemented) at $20 billion a year at least. Industry groups, naturally, have far higher estimates of the costs.
混乱吧?同样也出现在发电机领域。要符合这些要求就需要投入资金更换零件或者改变运行方式,一些发电机甚至要面临关闭。这样的浪费引起了公众的不满。环境保护署估计为了达到新的汞排放标准每年需要花费100亿美元。同时他们还预测电价可能以每年3%的速度增长。州际空气污染法规将增加每年24亿美元的投入,而臭氧排放法规(如果它实施了)每年至少要花200亿美元。当然,工业集团给出了更高的预算。

Perhaps even worse, from the utilities’ point of view, is the unpredictable and inconclusive manner in which rules are proposed, modified, rescinded and reinstated by the bureaucracy and the courts. This can make investment in pollution-control gear, let alone new power plants, an especially risky business. Ralph Izzo, the boss of PSEG, a big power-provider, describes how his firm lost millions in the 1990s building natural-gas plants that were not in the end needed, in part because some of the EPA’s standards ended up more lenient than originally anticipated.
更糟糕的是,官僚主义和法院让这些政策在不可预知和不确定的情况下进行修改和制定。这些污染控制政策让企业付出了更多的成本使这个行业的风险大大提高,更不用说那些新建的发电站了。一家大型能源企业PSEG的老板拉尔夫•伊佐介绍说,他的公司在90年代因天然气发电厂的建设中损失了数百万美元,部分原因在于他们最初过高估计了环保总署的标准制定,使他们的大量投入到最后证明并不需要那么多。

The EPA retorts that the benefits of all these regulations, largely in the form of diseases and deaths averted, far outweigh the costs, at least by its reckoning. Others question both the inclusion in its sums of ancillary benefits, such as the reduction in fine particles that will accompany cuts in mercury emissions, and the value it assigns to improved public health (see article). Moreover, the EPA did not dream up the seemingly haphazard process by which most of these rules are formulated and applied: that is dictated by the Clean Air Act, which was approved by Congress in 1970 and updated in 1990, both times with strong bipartisan support.
环保署则反驳说,所有这些法规的好处,主要在于避免了大量的疾病和死亡,这远大于投入成本,至少在他们看来。另外一些问题也能起到综合效应,比如,减少颗粒排放将同时削减汞排放,也就改善了公共健康。而且,环保总署的大多数的规则制定和应用并不是看起来那么杂乱无章,都是依据1970年的空气清洁法案和1990年的修正案,这两次法案的修订当时都得到了两党的强烈支持。

That bipartisanship has since evaporated. Republicans in Congress now argue that many of the EPA’s standards are too onerous for businesses and have introduced legislation to rescind some of them. Newt Gingrich, one of the Republican candidates for president, thinks the EPA is so anti-business as to be beyond repair. He wants to abolish the entire agency and start again. Business lobbying groups are only slightly less vehement in their criticism. The American Chamber of Commerce, for example, routinely denounces EPA regulations as job-killing.

而现在曾经的两党合作的景象已经消失了,共和党议员认为许多环保署的标准对于企业太繁重了并提出立法废除一些标准。共和党总统候选人牛金贵(纽特•金里奇)认为环保署的存在是反商业的,已经不是修补政策能够解决的了。他要废除整个部门然后重新开始。商业游说团体的批评稍微轻微一点。比如美国商会,一直在谴责环保署的法规是就业杀手。

Barack Obama and his underlings seem acutely sensitive to this charge, and have made several attempts to limit the toll of new regulations on business. In the face of widespread complaints, they withdrew not only the EPA’s more exacting ozone standards but also its proposed restrictions on emissions from industrial boilers. They have twisted the Clean Air Act to exempt all but the biggest sources from the coming curbs on greenhouse gases, and have delayed issuing rules even for them, adding to the confusion. When they have pressed ahead with new regulations, they have tried to be flexible, providing for an extended grace period to meet the mercury standards, for example, and preserving a trading scheme for interstate air pollution despite hostility from the courts.
奥巴马和他的团队对这种指责十分敏感,并且做了很多尝试去限制新法规的所造成的投入。面对大量的不满,他们不仅撤销了环保署更加严格的臭氧排放标准,还废除了对于工业锅炉排放的限制。他们免除了几乎大部分温室气体的限制以至于扭曲了空气清洁法案的初衷,甚至为此拖延新规定的发布,从而加剧了混乱。而对于那些正在执行的新规定,政府也变得更灵活,比如延长执行新汞排放标准的宽限期,并且保护州级空气排污交易,尽管这会惹恼法院。

The courts, in fact, are the source of the worst uncertainty surrounding environmental regulation. They have repeatedly forced the EPA to revise its rules, rejecting decisions reached under both Mr Obama and his predecessors. It is now assumed, says Kyle Danish of Van Ness Feldman, a law firm, that any important rule issued by the EPA will prompt multiple legal challenges. It does not help that the Clean Air Act does not allow the cost of pollution controls to be taken into account when setting certain standards. Nor is it really designed to handle so pervasive and subtle a pollutant as carbon dioxide—a flaw the Obama administration readily concedes.
环境法规如此混乱不堪的根源实际上就是法院。他们不断迫使环保署修改它的法规,驳回奥巴马和他的前任做出的决定。范•尼斯•费尔德曼律所的凯尔•丹尼诗估计现在任何环保署公布的规定都会遭到各方面的法律挑战。法院这样做也无助于让环保成本影响环境保护法具体标准的制定。奥巴马也承认现行法律的缺陷,它并不是为了监管二氧化碳这种即广泛又不易察觉的污染物设计的。

There seems little hope of updating the Clean Air Act amid the current shouting match about environmental regulation, however, and utilities are far from unanimous about its deficiencies. Mr Izzo, of PSEG, argues that the EPA’s standards are scientifically grounded, and that to water them down would be to penalise responsible firms like his which have gone ahead and made the necessary investments. Moreover, it is not clear whether the EPA’s critics really would like to see a more predictable rule-making process. Many of the utilities that complain most vociferously about the uncertainty involved actually contribute mightily to it by backing endless legal challenges to new regulations.
现在看来根本没有希望能在这场比谁嗓门大的比赛中让空气清洁法案变得更好,公共事业缺陷的弥补方式也没有得到统一的意见。公共服务集团(PSEG)的伊佐先生认为环保署的标准已经是理论上的最低水平了,继续降低标准,将会伤害到像他们这样走在标准前面,为环保事业大量投入的有社会责任心的企业。而且,也不清楚那些对环保署持批评态度的人真的想看到一个更有预见性的规章制定过程。许多公共事业也许真的是靠这些蒙受巨大抱怨的新法规引起的法律挑战而获利。

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重点单词
  • currentn. (水、气、电)流,趋势 adj. 流通的,现在的,
  • haphazardadj. 偶然的,随意的,杂乱无章的 adv. 杂乱地,
  • handlen. 柄,把手 v. 买卖,处理,操作,驾驭
  • flexibleadj. 灵活的,易弯曲的,柔韧的,可变通的
  • assumedadj. 假装的;假定的
  • affectedadj. 受影响的,受感动的,受疾病侵袭的 adj. 做
  • gearn. 齿轮,传动装置,设备,工具 v. 使适应于,以齿轮
  • protectionn. 保护,防卫
  • regulationn. 规则,规章,管理 adj. 规定的,官方的
  • slightlyadv. 些微地,苗条地