Energy Clarity: Freedom from endangerment

Alex Epstein 

Freedom from endangerment

In this email, we’re going to discuss the freedom from endangerment.

It is vital for human well-being that individuals are protected from dangers to their air, water, sanitation, and safety. Energy production and use, including fossil fuel production and use, can endanger people in all kinds of ways if done badly—from bad burning processes, to waste that's handled improperly, to oil rigs going out of control, to gas lines exploding.

It's really important that we have policies to protect us from such dangers. How to do this is not obvious, but the key is to always think about what’s best for human flourishing.

Personally, I think there are three keys to a good policy that protects the freedom from endangerment. A good policy is one that establishes standards of health and safety that are

  1. reasonable and equitable
  2. scientifically verifiable
  3. economically desirable

What do I mean by reasonable? When talking about protecting health and safety from certain kinds of risks, we have to acknowledge that every human action and technology carries risks and dangers. Nature itself carries risks and dangers.

We can't have a policy that demands actions and technologies be totally free of risks and dangers, because then we would not be able to do anything, or we would just keep doing the same old things, ignoring that they also have risks because we’re used to those risks.

Instead, we need standards that protect us without overprotecting us to the point where they do harm.
For example, think of the first people to use fire. They were exposing themselves and their family to a certain amount of smoke—much more than modern power plants do, for sure. Now, should they have not used fire because of the smoke? No. Fire was so vital to their lives that it would have been harmful to their health and safety not to have the fire. If there had been a policy banning the use of fire because of the smoke, that would have been an example of overprotecting themselves to the point of harm.
By the same token, we can't have standards for energy risks or energy safety that would prevent people from using energy. That's what I mean by a policy having to be reasonable: protecting without overprotecting.


This goes right along with equitable, or fair and impartial.

We want to be equitable and we don't want to discriminate against some industries or some forms of energy, holding them to impossibly high risk and endangerment standards. Often, however, safety standards aren’t equitable because people tend to see new and unfamiliar things as riskier than old things.

Take hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for example. This is a technology that has been around a long time, but the term fracking wasn’t introduced into common usage until around 2010. People think of it as very risky even though it's been done very safely for a long time. They worry about the risk of fracking but not about the risk of driving, which is an incomparably greater risk than fracking.

Unfortunately, it is very common to treat unpopular industries such as the oil and gas industry this way. They get held to completely different standards than more popular industries. Take the issue of noise. What you'll find is that the amount of noise accepted from janitors, construction workers, and movie theaters is often far greater than that of a fracking job. But people complain that their rights are being violated by the noise from the fracking job and not by the noise from these other activities. That’s clearly non-equitable.

It's important when we hear talk of risk and danger that we’re clear on whether there is actually an unreasonable amount of risk in a given area, or whether we’re holding some industry or activity to a higher standard than other comparable industries or activities.

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Comment by Long Islander on August 28, 2022 at 12:39pm

Maine won’t ‘blindly’ follow California electric vehicle requirement

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has proposed adopting another California regulation, known as the California Advanced Clean Trucks Rule, that would require commercial truck and van manufacturers to sell an increasing number of electric vehicles in the state beginning with 2025 models. If adopted, manufacturers could face penalties for failing to live up to the rules. The Maine Board of Environmental Protection solicited public comment last fall but the proposal is still pending.


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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