Sunshine cures what sunsets worsen

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By John Bartlit

Companies complain that regulations in place to cut pollution are flawed. They complain about rules being clumsy, confusing, redundant, scattered among bureaus, and slow in the process.
Flaws that companies overlook are the scant resources for inspections and enforcement that is clumsy, scattered among bureaus, and slow in the process.
To make rules work well, or perhaps end them, companies favor the “sunset clause.”
A sunset clause is a clause in a regulation that states the rule expires after a set number of years. The idea is to require regulators to re-examine and re-decide each regulation every so many years to keep it current with new knowledge and technology, with other rules and with more efficient methods.
Making regulations more efficient is good.
But the devil is in the rest of the story.
The story begins with the basics of regulation. The system has four distinct steps – rule-making, permitting, surveillance, and enforcement. Agencies issue permits to emit pollutants that comply with set rules. A working system needs efficient inspecting and enforcing to go with permitting.

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