Environmental law is inherently a bit of a difficult balancing act, because of the opposing forces heavily involved in its structure. On the one hand, environmental laws need to protect the environment from damaging and greedy interests; it needs to be focused upon defending nature from human interests. But on the other hand, environmental law does need to take into account those same interests when they are reasonable, and when serving them would do more good for humanity than would protecting the environment. For instance, it is the duty of environmental law makers to try to find exactly the right balance between how many forests are allowed to be forested for lumber, and how many should be conserved. Even more important than conservation, however, comes the issue of power plants, and how they function under environmental law.
The desire for green energy is obviously spurred on by environmental interests, as such power plants would likely more than satisfy environmental law requirements concerning natural conservation and protection, just as well as they would provide new jobs and work for the area. But unfortunately, it seems that more and more, these green power plants are moving elsewhere in some form or another, out of the United States, because of the nature of certain difficulties. They satisfy environmental law quite well, but because the United States has not yet implemented a definitive policy on the intersection between environmental law and commerce law, there is often not enough of an incentive for the power plants to remain in the United States. As reported by Eric Rosenbaum of the street.com, BP is destroying its solar plant, only three years after it was originally announced and established. The plant was hailed as a wonderful source of many green jobs, but there wasn’t enough of an incentive attached to the environmental laws which made the plant a good idea. True, the plant would encounter great praise and success thanks to how much it exemplified the purpose of environmental law, but it would also encounter tremendous financial woes, as environmental laws were not backed up, in this instance, with financial aid.
America would like to have power companies invest in green plants throughout the US, both to make America generally more environmentally friendly, and to create new jobs. But so far, it has used environmental law simply to place restrictions upon the type of building practices that can be employed, the type of buildings that can be built, and so on and so forth. Such restrictions, though they are made with the best intentions, do not foster growth as much as environmental law should. Instead of simply restricting which practices are allowed, environmental law should instead begin to focus on providing incentives for companies to remain in America, to set up wind and solar plants and to give those jobs to Americans. At the moment, part of the problem with many of these green power plants that might be set up in America is that they are attempting to outsource labor to countries from which they can get better rates of manufacture. Then, as a consequence of environmental law makers’ policies, this means that they are given penalties in America, because they are not sourcing the labor to Americans. In turn, this means that they choose not to build in America, regardless of how much they would be satisfying America’s environmental law policies with their green power plants. They can instead build elsewhere, and make more money, while still likely more than pleasing environmental law supporters.
America needs to take a stronger stance on environmental law, under which environmental law is no longer entirely separate from the financial law which is necessary to keep green construction projects in the country. In order for America to profit from green jobs and from green power, we need to move financial incentives into our environmental laws. Much as it creates problems economically, doing so is the only way to ensure that the green projects which are so endorsed by environmental law would actually be created within America’s borders.
Other countries have begun to exhibit the kind of incentives required to attract green construction and green projects within their environmental law policies. China and India, for instance, have attracted BP to move the manufacturing of its solar components to their countries. The anemic cash grant program that the United States has currently employed under its own environmental law to attempt to lure in green projects will expire very shortly, and no new project stands ready to replace it.
In order for America to truly move towards a greener state of being, then it has to reshape its environmental law to provide the necessary push towards greener practices. The manufacturing of solar cells and wind turbines could be subsidized, for instance, or at least the tax on those particular kinds of manufacturing could be decreased via environmental law. There are many ways under which to help spur on the development of greener practices using economic incentives, and these ways need to be adopted with environmental law. Either that, or a genuine, honed focus on America’s environmental stance needs to be adopted, to determine how America plans on moving into the future in terms of environmental concerns. If America is willing to keep its environmental law in a merely prohibitive state, where the primary aim of any given law is simply to prevent companies from taking overly damaging and destructive routes of manufacturing, then that can indeed function. But in such a case, America needs to be willing to let the greener construction projects go, as it will not be able to implement the necessary environmental laws to actually pull those projects in. If America does indeed want to make a point of developing greener sources of energy, however, then it must actively pursue these options by altering its environmental laws accordingly. Without such a definitive stance, one way or another, America will find itself becoming bogged down by the flaws of both approaches, and the advantages