by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Have you been shopping recently and suffered from severe sticker shock on household staples? Sure, inflation and supply chain issues are contributors to soaring costs, but something deeper and more long-term is also going on: regulators and radical environmentalists are working in tandem to turn staple consumer products into luxury goods beyond the reach of most Americans.
The flare-up over banning natural gas-powered appliances is a great example of the kind of regulation some would like to impose on ordinary Americans. But similar radical regulatory moves with devastating effects for consumers are already happening across several industries. In Maine, for example, the families who have harvested the iconic seafood commodity from American waters for centuries may soon find themselves regulated out of existence.
Maine’s celebrated lobster industry is currently fighting for its existence against our own government, which is cracking down on lobstermen ostensibly to protect an endangered species called the right whale. While the species is certainly worth protecting, Washington regulators have put a new gloss on a decades-old law that will squeeze the life out of working lobstermen without clearly changing anything for the right whale. An important challenge to this new regulatory scheme is pending in the D.C. Circuit, leaving the courts to decide the fate of Maine’s lobster fleet.
You may ask — what changed? Congress hasn’t changed the law. So has lobster fishing suddenly become more dangerous to right whales? Actually, Maine lobstermen have taken great lengths to remain sustainable and mitigate the risks endangering these massive sea creatures. And they have been remarkably successful. It has been nearly two decades since a Maine lobsterman was responsible for the entanglement of a right whale. Nor has there been a documented death or serious injury of one at their hands.