"The problems caused by population still make environmental news, but population is forgotten," said Roy Beck, a longtime environmental journalist who founded Numbers U.S.A., a leading group advocating immigration reforms.

But to focus only on reducing every individual's impact, while remaining silent on how many individuals are living here, strikes critics like Beck as "bewildering.

"How anyone can think it is not both - average environmental impact times the number of people...that's like one and one equals two."

Beck and colleagues have analyzed Smart Growth, a key environmentalist remedy for sprawl development. Pioneered around the Chesapeake, Smart Growth uses government incentives and disincentives to pattern growth around existing towns, significantly reducing the land each new home carves out of farms and wildlife habitat.

It hasn't worked well, and one reason, Beck concluded in his analysis of 100 metropolitan centers nationwide, is that population growth itself drives about half of open space consumption.

 Beck called it "a great system," that if expanded could go a long way to dry up jobs for those without documentation. Right now E Verify fails to catch people who have stolen whole new identities, but Smith's bill would fix that by letting it cross-reference Social Security data.

Beck said that the "jobs Americans won't do tactic" is often just code for offering cheaper pay and fewer benefits. Other immigration experts cite coal mining and trash collection as "dirty, hard jobs," that pay decently and seldom go wanting for takers.

By Tom Horton in The Chesapeake Bay Journal


Updated: Fri, Mar 30th 2012 @ 2:51pm EDT