All posts by Timmothy Morales

Clean Air and Environmental Ethics.

Most of western ethics has been focused on the moral values, rights, and obligations of humans. Now we are in an age of advanced science and a heightened awareness so that we are much more conscious of the environmental disasters we are facing and what caused them than we used to. The ethics behind the environmental injustice happening in the world is becoming more and more heavily debated. There are several dynamics which make environmental ethics so difficult and one is coming to a universal understanding of what has value. I have personally traveled to many events across the United States and have found several things to be helpful when traveling to these events:



● Event details and precise location.
● The schedule of events.
● A reliable GPS with a car phone holder.
● If you’re not staying in an RV, economical and safe lodging.

Even though we may be further advanced than we were it is hard to measure the exact impact on the environment all of our actions have and the indirect harm makes it easy to shy away from the taking responsibility. One of the main critiques of environmental ethics is how it lacks the power to truly inspire a change to the way humans are currently living. It is helpful to understand the different ethical frameworks of deontologism, virtue ethics, and consequentialism when deciding what theories have the most value to environmental ethics

Starting with the least effective ethical framework in regards to environmental ethics is virtue ethics because it values the character of the agent higher than the consequences of the action made. Next is Deontologism which focuses on doing your duty as a human. There is clearly merit in this ethical framework but the regards to environmental ethics just like virtue ethics there are obvious holes. Consequentialism is making a moral judgment based on the consequences of a certain action rather than the intentions behind the action itself.

This is why Consequentialism edges out the other ethical frameworks as the best ethical framework in which to promote environmental friendly actions.

American Power Overrides Clean Air Act? There seems to be some stipulations in the new American Power Act which tries to suppress the power of the EPA as clearly defined in the Clean Air Act. Seen to be a very successful legislation, the Clean Air Act dates back to 1970, but the Supreme Court rolled out its decision in 2007, granting full authority to the EPA to regulate emissions as part of the said Act.

Critics of legislation passed by the House of Representatives to deal with climate change have made their voices heard during composition of the American Power Act. Specifically, as it appears that the EPA is ready to introduce regulation to curb stationary sources of carbon emissions, some members of Congress want new legislation to be written to pre-empt it. It appears that there is some language within the new American Power Act that seeks to dampen the power of the EPA as written into the Clean Air Act.

The latter is seen as a very successful piece of legislation, dating back to 1970, but in the judgment handed down by the Supreme Court in 2007, the EPA was granted powerful authority to regulate carbon emissions as part of that Act. Provisions within the American Power Act mandate that the EPA may not bring the power of the Clean Air Act to bear on major emitters of carbon, specifically power plants and large factories. Critics have cited this regulatory potential to be a “backdoor” way for the Administration to effectively tax energy use and carbon emissions.

Included in the American Power Act is a cap and rebate provisions that deals with the producers of energy and some other provisions which deal with threats to climate. While the political climate itself is far from palatable, the damaging events of the Gulf oil spill are prompting public opinion to push for legislation to curb energy usage. Many are calling for significant taxation on fossil fuels and investment in alternative sources of energy. Pres. Obama has stated that the US will reduce carbon emissions by 83% in 40 years. The American Power Act grants authority for such in the Environmental Protection Agency.

Without such legislation it is very unlikely that regulation as part of the Clean Air Act would achieve anywhere near that kind of reduction. There seems to be a closing window of opportunity in the summer of 2010. Despite the events that happened in the Gulf of Mexico, the Congress still does not pay that much of an attention to the issue. It would seem obvious that the legislation shall need to be addressed in the near future should the promises made by the Pres.

Obama to the listening world are to be kept. In the event that the Congress would not successfully pass the climate bill in 2010, the EPA would now need to follow through with a regulation that curtails carbon emissions from emitters that are stationary. This could seem to be the least attractive amongst the options, though it leads to additional premiums on top of the traditional energy which would be shouldered by the other. Carbon emission realization and ultimate reduction should be the goal of every business in the United States.

Unrestricted energy use is fast becoming a sore subject and organizations that are not seen to be proactive risk damage to their reputations, quite apart from additional cost that would be associated with a carbon tax.