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Thread: Rural development and environmental regulations

  1. #1
    Member Groovy Iguana's avatar
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    Rural development and environmental regulations

    Hey all - I'm starting a reserach project on rural economic development and pollution. So, at the risk of sounding ignorant (I'm no planner!), say you've got a factory that wants to relocate in an area. How much leeway does the town have in what it offers the factory as "perks?" Can it bend environmental regulations? How does the whole thing work?

    I've posted this elswewhere, but I'm really interested in how/if strict environmental regulations act as a barrier for new businesses. Any anecdotes? Thanks...

    -Groovy

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    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Groovy Iguana
    Hey all - I'm starting a reserach project on rural economic development and pollution. So, at the risk of sounding ignorant (I'm no planner!), say you've got a factory that wants to relocate in an area. How much leeway does the town have in what it offers the factory as "perks?" Can it bend environmental regulations? How does the whole thing work?

    I've posted this elswewhere, but I'm really interested in how/if strict environmental regulations act as a barrier for new businesses. Any anecdotes? Thanks...

    -Groovy
    NO. A local government can not "bend" environmental regulations to encourage a factory locate within their jurisdiction, that is, if it is a state or federal regulation.

    Depending on where you are located a community can only bend the rules it is allowed to regulate by state statue.

    For instance the local government can rezone a parcel of land to make it suitable for the factory to develop on it. A local government can give tax breaks from "Local" taxes. The local government can waiver local fees or other local requirements.

    I guess the moral of the story is, the local gov't can only bend it's own rules.

    If the state has wetland regulations, the factory needs to go talk to the State DEQ and get them to bend the rules.

    IF they want to pollute more air beyond the Clean Air Act the need to talk to the feds.

    The local government is allowed to bendit's own rules but it can't bend others rules.

  3. #3
    Member Groovy Iguana's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    I guess the moral of the story is, the local gov't can only bend it's own rules.
    Gotcha. Thanks. I've heard references to rural areas "chasing smokestacks" - so, to what does that refer? Just changing the zoning?

  4. #4
    Iguana, in my limited experience with my area, the locals seem to demand more answers to enviromental questions than usual. Rural areas tend to be old timers that really do not want industry to change their homes. This is in addition to the "folks not from around here" that think that now that they have their little place in the country that all further developement should cease to "preserve their little slice of heaven." [I hope you cannot tell that this last group is a pet peeve of mine]

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Groovy Iguana
    Gotcha. Thanks. I've heard references to rural areas "chasing smokestacks" - so, to what does that refer? Just changing the zoning?
    Smokestack chasing is a term that comes out of the efforts of southern states to lure industry to relocate from the north. The reality, of course, is that few industries really have 'smokestacks,' but it serves as a good descriptive term to indicate that the motives of the company and advantages offered by the states were not of the best character. Rather than lax pollution controls (though somewhat true) the companies were often attracted by cheap, non-union labor. Over time this has given way to gross abuse of incentive programs. The south, more than any other part of the country, is driven by a mentality that any new business is desirable and worth paying any price for.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Smokestack chasing is a term that comes out of the efforts of southern states to lure industry to relocate from the north. The reality, of course, is that few industries really have 'smokestacks,' but it serves as a good descriptive term to indicate that the motives of the company and advantages offered by the states were not of the best character. Rather than lax pollution controls (though somewhat true) the companies were often attracted by cheap, non-union labor. Over time this has given way to gross abuse of incentive programs. The south, more than any other part of the country, is driven by a mentality that any new business is desirable and worth paying any price for.
    The modern day smokestack is the Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and slaughter houses. Local government can pass and enforce local environmental laws and in the case of CAFO's they really get them on the water quality and insect infestation issues. The odor of CAFOs is a concern, but I believe it's considered more of a nuisance rather than a strong public health issue. Of course, as soon as you start regulating these businesses locally, they race card comes out of the deck big and bad, because of the influx of the hispanic and southeast asian population that tend to work in meat packing plants.

    Some states allow the local governments to approve ad valorem tax exemptions, but they ususally require approval from the State Board of Tax Appeals. I think revolving loan funds and community foundations may be the most effective rural small town economic development tool out there. Marketing, land give aways, infrastructure cost share and other types of incentives are possible, but usually difficult to budget for in small towns.

    I'll stop there.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

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    Member Groovy Iguana's avatar
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    Thanks, I appreciate your comments! This is a new area for me, as you can tell. I also really appreciate the friendliness of this forum - on the whole, you all are really inclusive and non-judgmental. It makes it easier to post, not having been a member for very long! Thanks. -Groovy

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    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Groovy Iguana
    Thanks, I appreciate your comments! This is a new area for me, as you can tell. I also really appreciate the friendliness of this forum - on the whole, you all are really inclusive and non-judgmental. It makes it easier to post, not having been a member for very long! Thanks. -Groovy
    Welcome, Post anything, post often. If it is planning related or not post it, you'll be sure to get a response.

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    GI - there is an extensive literature on whether smokestack chasing actually works for communities. I don't have citations and all of those files are still in Colorado. But if you root around in journals like Rural Sociology, you will eventually find what I am talking about. One researcher to search under: Richard Krannich. Also try Gundars Rudzitis (hope I remember how to spell it). You also MUST read Tom Power's book Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies (Island Press) if you are going to explore this question. Finally you can look for Ray Rasker's papers. Some of Ray's work is on-line at the Sonoran Institute's website. SI is the leading not-for-profit group that explores the relationship between the environment and the economy. Probably a good starting place for you.

  10. #10
    Member Groovy Iguana's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    GI - there is an extensive literature on whether smokestack chasing actually works for communities. I don't have citations and all of those files are still in Colorado. But if you root around in journals like Rural Sociology, you will eventually find what I am talking about. One researcher to search under: Richard Krannich. Also try Gundars Rudzitis (hope I remember how to spell it). You also MUST read Tom Power's book Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies (Island Press) if you are going to explore this question. Finally you can look for Ray Rasker's papers. Some of Ray's work is on-line at the Sonoran Institute's website. SI is the leading not-for-profit group that explores the relationship between the environment and the economy. Probably a good starting place for you.
    Fantastic, LN! Thanks so much! -Groovy

  11. #11
    Member Groovy Iguana's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    GI - there is an extensive literature on whether smokestack chasing actually works for communities. I don't have citations and all of those files are still in Colorado. But if you root around in journals like Rural Sociology, you will eventually find what I am talking about. One researcher to search under: Richard Krannich. Also try Gundars Rudzitis (hope I remember how to spell it). You also MUST read Tom Power's book Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies (Island Press) if you are going to explore this question. Finally you can look for Ray Rasker's papers. Some of Ray's work is on-line at the Sonoran Institute's website. SI is the leading not-for-profit group that explores the relationship between the environment and the economy. Probably a good starting place for you.
    Lee - I just ordered a copy of Tom Power's book - it looks great. I also did get some stuff from Gundars Rudzitis's (you did spell it right) author's website. Great place to start. Thanks again. -Groovy

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    You also MUST read Tom Power's book Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies (Island Press) if you are going to explore this question.
    I will second that. Tom Power's is an excellent author and researcher in this regard. He points out many of the falicies of the impact of environmental controls and economies based on extractive activities (logging, mining, etc.....)
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

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    As one who has spent many years trying to obtain the state and federal environmental permits required before building a large industrial plant (such as oil refineries and power plants), I can tell you that it is very, very difficult, if not impossible, to get any environmental agency to bend its rules. And even when compliance is achieved with the environmental agency, there is often quite a selling job needed to satisfy the local citizenry ... and rightly so. That is why I am so appalled at how the Bush administration is attempting to kill the Clean Air Act.
    Last edited by mbeychok; 20 Feb 2005 at 12:42 AM. Reason: Change signature

  14. #14
    Member Groovy Iguana's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mbeychok
    As one who has spent many years trying to obtain the state and federal environmental permits required before building a large industrial plant (such as oil refineries and power plants), I can tell you that it is very, very difficult, if not impossible, to get any environmental agency to bend its rules. And even when compliance is achieved with the environmental agency, there is often quite a selling job needed to satisfy the local citizenry ... and rightly so. That is why I am so appalled at how the Bush administration is attempting to kill the Clean Air Act.
    That sounds interesting, mbeychok. As I get further along with my project, perhaps you might let me know some of your experiences? Thanks! -Groovy

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