P A R C

Pollution Abatement & Reduction Councils


(Opening Statement)


This is a detailed explanation of how pollution has played the major role in the "overfishing" scenario so popular today. If I'm preaching to the choir here you can just jump right over to the Solution but you'll be missing some important numbers and a new and important perspective.)

You will probably find it more useful to read the PARC FAQ first and then come back and read the entire proposal.


As a commercial fisherman who has seen his industry transmogrified by our intrusive government from an individually based healthy way of life into profit centers for Government (via tarriffs), Corporations (via regulations) and Universities (via grants), I have come to the conclusion we have ALL been fighting the wrong battle, and not only the wrong battle, but one there is NO hope of ever winning. It's emotionally satisfying to be right, but we have all lost anyway and there's no changing that.


We all have been looking at the wrong problem.

They say ( List 1'ers) there are too many fishermen chasing too few fish and that's the problem. So they came up with draconian management and political solutions clearly designed to force the small interests out of business.......

We say they created the problem by self enriching deception, by directing too much capital to certain fisheries, then distorting the natural process by closing fisheries and forcing too much pressure on others, .......

I say we are all treating (poorly) a symptom, not the problem.


There are just too few fish to go around.

There used to be enough and should still be enough, but not anymore.

Why aren't there enough fish? There aren't enough fish because The rich Basic Soup "recipe" from which all ocean life evolves is being altered/damaged/depleted/destroyed.

  • Industrial plants from coast to coast spew 550,000 TONs of caustics (1.1 billion lbs - see Air Pollution Perspective below) in the air every year. Almost every gram of that caustic eventually ends up in the ocean. Either directly falling on the oceans, or falling on land and washing into the rivers leading to the ocean. Common sense dictates that HAS TO EVENTUALLY AFFECT the life support structure of the whole system in some way.

  • Industrial plants commonly use water for cooling. In addition any thermal pollution they may add to the rivers, etc. put a shot of caustic chlorine in (often every six hours) to keep the cooling tubes clear and free of algae. Not only is whatever spat or spawn in that water killed, the water is rendered useless to support life afterward and probably poisons any other life it comes in contact with. In a contained area like a bay (for example) Common sense dictates that HAS TO EVENTUALLY AFFECT the life support structure of the whole bay.

  • Pesticides, herbicides, and other 'cides in huge amounts washing off the millions of acres of manicured lawns in this country, nearly all of which eventually ends up in the oceans. The same for farms and ranches, though certainly to a far lesser degree per acre. Common sense dictates that HAS TO AFFECT the life carrying capacity of the water to some degree.

  • Huge amounts of oil and exhaust residues, salts, etc. washing off the roads due to traffic every time it rains, nearly all of which eventually ends up in the oceans as well. Common sense dictates that HAS TO AFFECT the life carrying capacity of the water to some degree.

  • Every day, seven days a week, sewer plants all over the country are discharging 100's of millions/billions of gallons of treated effluent into the rivers and oceans. Effluent treated to kill any disease carrying microbes. Common sense dictates THAT HAS TO AFFECT the life carrying capacity of the water to some degree.

  • Chemical factories, paper factories, slaughter houses, service stations, photo developers, laboratories, ..... the list is endless.


Strong, even incontrovertible, evidence of this can be seen in the Gulf of Mexico. A series in the Spring of 1996 in the New Orleans Times Picayune on the decline of fisheries showed that a huge area (1,000's of square miles) of the Gulf off Louisiana turns anaerobic (absent of oxygen) every summer. No life can be supported without oxygen. And that's just from one river (the Mississippi).

That means not only can fish or shrimp or worms not live there, all the minute building blocks that lead up to them cannot survive or prosper either.

The very foundations of ocean life are being threatened and/or damaged. Who knows how long it takes to recuperate? Years? Decades? Centuries? The ocean is a marvelously resilient resource but even it has its short term limits. Large sections of the ocean ecosystem are being taxed well beyond their recuperative capacities.

( Look at it this way - if a given body of water can absorb and "recycle" X amount of pollutant (whether it be sewage, chlorine, sulphuric acid, or ......), we are now inputting 2, 3, or 10 times X )

We saw another example in 1976 with the MASSIVE Pollution Kill off New Jersey. The largest manmade ecological disaster in the history of the world (until Chernobyl)

(Note - Maybe better impact to have a looonger list of polluters with a terse description of pollution contribution)


Air Pollution Perspective

Annual World Wide Rain Fall 264 Billion Gallons*
Northern Hemisphere 132 Billion Gallons
Annual US Particulate Matter 550,000 TONS**
Estimated rest of Hemisphere 1,100,000 TONS***

* (Frequently Asked Question about Population Control. )
**New York Times, Science Section, 11/96
***Making these industrial assumptions in pollution terms:
....... China (not as clean as the US)
....... The Eastern Bloc (not as clean as the US)
....... The rest of Asia (plus or minus as clean as the US)
....... Europe (plus or minus as clean as the US)

The assumptions (that the US contributes overall 1/3 of industrial particulate) mean that on average for each 40 gallons of rain in the Northern Hemisphere 1 lb of pretty nasty stuff has come down somewhere. (It's surely much higher. Japan's GDP alone is half the USA's)

( Note - I honestly believe rainfall must be much higher than the 264 billion gallon estimate, but even if it were off by a factor of 100, that still leaves a lot of nasty per gallon. Further the assumption is the US produces 1/3 of all particulate in the Northern Hemisphere, in reality it's probably less than 15% which means even twice as much nasty per gallon. )

And that doesn't take into consideration the massive amount of particulates we put into the air each year via vehicle exhausts. (Just take a look at the smog levels of Los Angeles valley for an example of particulate concentration.)

We perceive air pollution as a respiratory problem (and well we should) but if you take it a step further it pretty near all makes it's way to the oceans either via settlement or washed out by rain.


Everyone knows pollution is a problem,

but it's usually perceived as a local problem. As far as ocean pollution goes, the dilution factor is considered so astronomical that little hurts it overall, except on a localized basis.(i.e. Sewer sludge fed The Pollution Kill of '76 off NJ & NY, or isolated lakes or bays)

My theory is the cumulative effect of all this over time (decades) is to significantly alter the ability of The Basic Soup of the oceans, bays, rivers, puddles to support prolific life. Instead of thinking of fish, think a hundred or more levels below that, whether it's stuff that forms algae or plankton and even lower.

( Think about it this way, all living things are, at the very base, complex chemical interactions. We know that as little as 1 milligram of a specific chemical can affect an entity nearly 1,000,000,000 times larger - a dose of medicine in a 200 lb human.) and in ways we don't entirely understand but we just know that it does.


Changing the recipe (composition) of the Basic Soup.

In order for algae, or any life form, to start, it begins with a propitious (maybe even precise) chemical interaction. In the summer of 1996, scientists spread a few hundred pounds of iron powder over a "barren" section of the mid South Pacific (Science News, 1996). Within days, a massive algae bloom occurred covering some 25,000 square miles. If it works that way, who's to say it doesn't work in reverse, i.e., a few hundred pounds of something can retard growth for a massive area.


Okay, how do we fix the problem?

I propose we set up regional Pollution Abatement & Reduction Councils (PARC) (a clumsy name but good acronym [grin]),in the same way Fishery Management Councils (FMC) are set up. There would be six PARCs covering the same areas as the FMCs which are essentially the coastal areas of the US (3 on the East Coast, 1 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 2 on the West Coast).


The sole purpose of the PARC's would be to

LEND

money for pollution abatement projects to private and public entities.


PARC membership structure - The governor from each state would appoint 1 environmentalist, 1 recreational fisherman and 1 commercial fisherman to the PARC as well as his Environmental Commissioner. Members would serve for five years and may serve only two terms consecutively. Six state coverage yields 24 members per PARC.

Each PARC would maintain on staff, a scientist (or could contract with Universities) for evaluation of loan applications.


PARC funding - Taxation of retail seafood sales. The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) estimates nearly 40 billion a year in sales (something like 26 billion in restaurants and the rest at retail).

(And here's the rub. Seafood retailers will/do say "We are not the cause of ANY of the pollution. Why should we be forced to pay for any cleanup. If anything, EVERYBODY should have to pay." And they are absolutely right, no question. Here's the "but". It will be politically impossible to get Congress to fund something of this magnitude without major concessions to competing tax interests. A cascade of special interests (universities, industries, polluters, pollution controllers, etc.) will either be putting their fingers in the PARC pie or demanding expensive offsets somewhere else for support. By narrowing the focus to just seafood, it shuts out the biggest part of those special interests from the legislative equation. If the major players of the retail seafood industry support PARC then it will be a shoo in for passage. If not then it's gonna be a long cold winter.)

A 5% tax at that level would yield 2 billion a year. An additional advantage of using a tax is that it would be "sunsetted" (expire after say 10 years). After 10 years it would no longer be needed as the loan repayments back into the fund would nearly equal or even exceed revenues from the tax (depending on interest charged, loan durations, etc.).


Each PARC would get an equal share of the tax revenues to make loans primarily affecting its district. There would be nothing to stop PARCs from combining resources to fund a project of mutual benefit. (Pollution sources that crossed boundaries, dirty smokestacks or river pollution)
PARC administration costs would be limited to a maximum of 10% of current revenue. (10% is actually high but the ceiling does ensure the PARCs don't evolve into just another government boobdoggle program where administration costs are higher than benefits paid out (like many welfare programs for example).
Restaurants and retail outlets could display signs:

5% of the seafood portion of your bill goes directly to the

Pollution Abatement
Reduction Councils

who make loans to individuals, industry and governments for pollution abatement projects that directly affect the oceans.

This tax will expire in 2010.

(A seafood dinner costing $15.00 would now cost $15.75. What consumer would begrudge the 75 cents if he KNEW it was going directly clean up the environment? No one I would want to know.)


Another funding source, but politically extremely unlikely, would be the existing Saltonstall Kennedy tariff on seafood imports. Double the existing tariff (SK funds) on imported seafood and dedicate the increase to the PARCs. The current receipts from SK funds is a closely guarded secret by NMFS but is estimated to be over $400 million a year.
To give you an idea of just how powerful an influence this could have on pollution, let me give an idea of the numbers. Assuming $2,000,000,000 a year (produced by a 5% tax on retail seafood sales) and (assuming a 5% avg interest rate charged and a maximum 10% administration cost), in 7 to 10 years time, we would have over $20,000,000,000 in loans on the street working, and generating another 2, to 3 billion in repayments annually added to the pot for additional loans.

After ten years or less, we wouldn't need the tax revenues any more as repayments and interest fuel the PARCs.

We're talking about a job creation machine in the neighborhood of 100,000 a year just in pollution control alone before any economic multipliers. And that doesn't count any jobs returned to commercial fishing (which have a very high economic multiplier as producers of primary wealth - something like 8 additional jobs for each commercial fisherman). Or jobs created from increased recreational opportunities. Or jobs created from resalvaged land. Or jobs created from ......

100,000+ jobs a year just cleaning up pollution, and at no cost to the taxpayer after 10 years.


And ONLY the consumers who populate the market the pollution is generated for pay for the abatement/cleanup costs (through passed along loan costs). And not at any untenable rate either. For example, I estimate that if every power plant in the country were to implement ALL practical control measures (scrubbers, cooling ponds, etc.) it would add well under 1/2 cent per kilowatt hour in average consumer costs (and even that would eventually expire).

Instead of looking at absolute costs (say 10 million dollars to upgrade a plant), look at amortized costs (where the loan costs per year are spread over the number of units produced, as in the electric example above (kilowatts) ). If General Motors, for example, had to spend $10,000,000 a year ( and it surely wouldn't be that high.) because of the pollution controls, what's it gonna add to the cost of business? Maybe $1.25 a vehicle (They produce 8,000,000 a year). See the difference? If I'm wrong by a factor of 10, big deal, so it's ten bucks a car. Last one I bought was $30,000. So now it would be $30,010. Hell even I can beat the salesman down another 10 bucks. {grin}

If you use 15,000 kilowatts a year of electricity at home (high end users), it might add $75 to a total bill of $1,500 (unless you live in the North East, where the total bill will probably be over $2,000). If you can afford to use 15,000 kilowatts a year (you'd need discretionary air conditioning and more to use that much), you can afford the 75 bucks. And if you say you can't, I don't want to know you any more than the lobster eater in the restaurant.


PARC function - To make low interest loans to pollution Reduction projects. They could range from $1,000 to a farmer for a runoff retention basin to $100,000,000 (or even more) to a power plant for (a cooling water recycling basin and/or smokestack scrubber) or a municipality for sewage treatment or .........

The loans would :

  • Be direct annual amortization - No ballons or other gimmicks. DA ensures a continuing revenue stream to finance other loans.

  • Be secured above all creditors - Minimizes losses due to financial chicanery.

  • Only be used for pollution abatement.

  • May have repayments tied to production - where possible. i.e. tied to the borrowers revenue stream so there's no revenue drain during a shut down (seasonal or otherwise).

  • Require a statement listing the abatement factors the loan would address.

A (The) Key feature of the program is keeping it on a secured loan basis to ensure PARC funds available far into the future. Repayments will likely get factored into the borrowers' cost ensuring the pollution consumers (ultimately the pollution causation) bear their share.


Each PARC would present to Congress each year a statement containing:

  • A list of loans made that year.

  • Status of all outstanding loans.

  • Pollution reduced as a result of the loans.

A little perspective

It's been estimated to take over a billion dollars to clean up the Everglades (a major estuary for the Gulf and Atlantic). With the kind of money we're talking about here, it could theoretically be done in six months. The entire Mississippi Valley in one to two years. (I'm not suggesting them as targets, just examples) (Note - that was figuring using a seafood tax of 2 billion dollars. And presuming it would be spent entirely on these projects and in one shot which it wouldn't and can't).


Chicken Soup

Even if I am 100% wrong about the Basic Soup recipe being affected and the program does not result in one fish being added to the stocks, it does remedy some really serious problems in our country.

As Grandmom would say "What could it hurt?"



Click Here
to send a message to Congress in support of PARC

(Won't cost you a dime, you won't be added to any mailing lists and no one will bother you with solicitations, I promise. All I'm asking you to do is send an email to Congress.)
To read about some questions raised and more details about PARC,
Click Here.

To see PARC's supporter list
Click Here.

End Pollution Loan Board proposal


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