Seeing Regulation in a New Light

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Long-time readers will have come across my periodic complaints about the pain of reading Rhode Island legislation.  Even though many of the worst bills will never see the light of day, just knowing that somebody in elective office proposed them can be stressful for a citizen.  Of course, regulators get in on the action, too, and executives such as the governor, to the point that it ceases to seem possible for the citizenry to keep track, much less defend itself.

I’d planned to write a short post on this topic, but in reviewing my notes during the extreme situation in which we now find ourselves, including the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s call for “government distancing” during this crisis, the new light amplifies the point.  Here’s one seemingly small thing from the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) from February:

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that Rhode Island, along with Massachusetts and Maine, is preparing to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), highly potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. HFCs often are used in commercial refrigeration, stationary and mobile air conditioning, heat pumps, foams, and aerosols. This newest action adds to Rhode Island’s multi-pronged fight against climate change, which, under the direction of Governor Gina M. Raimondo, includes ambitious renewable energy deployment, a heating sector transformation, and strengthening the resilience of communities and natural areas.

Even in the good times of last month, Rhode Island’s economy wasn’t doing so swimmingly well as to make additional restrictions on businesses worthwhile. That is especially true under the banner of having our tiny state, and its decreasing role in manufacturing, try to save the planet from global warming.

The real infuriating part always comes at the end of the government press release, though:

According to the U.S. Climate Alliance, phasing down the use of HFCs will help keep American companies globally competitive and could create tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in annual economic value in the United States. Coupled with efficiency opportunities in refrigeration and cooling, phasing down the use of HFCs and replacing them with gases with lower global warming potential delivers significant climate and energy efficiency benefits. Refrigerant servicing companies will simply transition from using HFCs to using non-HFC alternatives and will receive training and instruction from the manufacturers. Impacts to businesses with equipment using HFCs will be minimal because retrofits will occur at the same time as normal servicing or other repairs.

See, it’s so simple!  More regulations will actually help companies.  (Greedy businessmen just don’t see it.)  According to the people who wish to dictate new restrictions, there is absolutely no reason to resist, whatsoever, and no adverse consequences.

Again, this is a little thing, in the big picture, but there are thousands of these little things every year, and they all serve to as weights on the economy and barriers to things like savings that companies and individuals can either reinvest or use to stabilize themselves in the face of the risks that reality throws at us from time to time.