The government has made a colossal effort since the 1960s to clean the air and America’s lakes and rivers. Most citizens probably thought the the work was remarkably successful. Dead lakes now support fish and other water life. People in big cities no longer develop lung disease from breathing the local air.
Pollution has a life of its own, which has become an issue again as the EPA has released information about contaminated fish in the country’s waterways.
According to Reuters, “Scientists have detected mercury contamination in every one of hundreds of fish sampled from 291 freshwater streams.” Those fish get eaten by animals, and, in some cases, people. That makes the problem a health risk, which raises the issue of whether more should be done to correct the trouble. The government would have to spend more money, money which it probably cannot spare.
The fish problem is more than a fish problem. The finances of the country are now stretch thinly enough that finding money to solve significant problems is becoming nearly impossible. That would not be an acute issue if the government had an ongoing surplus.
The fish issue will keep appearing whether the government is nearly broke or not. Problems arise which have no solution unless taxpayers’ money is used to solve them. Not all problems get equal weight. Many go unsolved. At this point, the government can solve very few of them
The fish problem will have to wait. It will have to get in line behind attempts to improve unemployment, give homeowners modified loans, funnel money to small business, and prop up failing sectors of the economy. The EPA spends a lot of government money to find out about mercury in the environment and more money to report those findings to the public. It then finds it has no money to address the problem at all.
Douglas A. McIntyre