Here’s an unflattering portrait of government red tape:
An industry analysis of government data shows that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Pittsburgh regional office takes more than 200 days to process erosion control permits for shale gas drillers.
That happens to be up from the average of 139 days in 2015.
DEP blames staff turnover, staffing shortages and greater scrutiny of permit applications, reports The Associated Press.
No matter the rationale — real or an excuse — government should facilitate growth, not retard it.
The Trump administration’s executive order relaxing Obama administration regulations on coal-fired power plants is being billed in some quarters as the way to revive the region’s coal mining industry, if not the economy itself.
But while reversing any government regulation that seeks to command the economy in pursuit of social goals is laudable, the simple fact remains that market forces likely will preclude any rush to return to coal as the power-generating source of choice.
The bottom line is that natural gas-fired power plants are more economical, for operators and consumers. You can thank the nation’s shale gas fracking revolution for the shift and the glut of product, one that has become both a boon and a bane to the shale gas industry.
Some question whether it was the Obama administration’s quest to kill King Coal that set the stage for the rise of natural gas. Most assuredly, it played some role. Energy providers had to satisfy shareholders as government regulations changed the landscape.
But the simple fact of the matter is that the shale gas revolution would have precipitated marketplace changes anyway. And if the yoke of government can be loosened, that revolution has an ever better chance of continuing.
For, indeed, and as social commentator Herbert Spencer reminded in the 19th century:
“Liberty … is to be measured, not by the nature of the governmental machinery he lives under … but by the relative paucity of the restraints it imposes on him.”
PublicSource offers some interesting salary and employment statistics about Allegheny County, based on county statistics. To wit:
Total 2016 compensation to Allegheny County’s 6,928 government employees was $301.9 million.
That included $25.2 million in overtime, paced by employees of the county police and of the sheriff’s department.
It also included more than $697,000 in bonuses.
Factoring in overtime, 471 people were paid more money than county Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who was paid $90,124 last year.
While Allegheny County’s median household income is just over $53,000, the median salary of all county workers (meaning half earn more and half earn less) was just over $42,000.
Fifty-one percent of county employees are women. Forty-nine percent are men.
Eighty percent are white. Twenty percent are minorities.
Finally, and considering Greater Pittsburgh’s population malaise, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, this most apropos quote from the Jane Jacobs classic “The Economy of Cities”:
“Artificial symptoms of prosperity, or a ‘good image’ do not revitalize a city, but only explicit economic growth processes for which there are no substitutes.”
Read that thrice. And recall it the next time, and the times after that, you are expected to believe otherwise.
Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (email@example.com