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The hotel room felt Spartan and bleak. The sounds of my bare feet on the pseudo walnut laminate floor echoed around the room and off the bare walls. Noises from the hallway outside intruded regularly without the usual carpet to soak them up. The hipster-ish earthtone wall coverings and color-coordinated fixtures at least provided a muted aesthetic unity to the structure, a game attempt at fusing mid 60s understatement with 21st century techno-chic in such a way as to disguise the shortcomings of the regulation-driven modernizations done to this 20th century relic of a building. What is so damnably enraging about it all is that this renovation was not the result of market forces, but a response to an unnecessary Obama-era regulation, a regulation that President Trump seems strangely loathe to undo, and Trump’s unusual and quiet recalcitrance on this issue has more than a little whiff of unseemly connections to certain well known cartels. So what is going on here?
On my recent trip to Atlanta I encountered one of the more pernicious but lesser known Obama-era regulations – the Save Our Gravity (SOG) building codes regulation put out jointly by the EPA and the International Standards Organization (ISO). In an effort to severely restrict the actual physical carbon and lime footprint of our buildings, this code, first bruited in 2010, then quietly rolled out just after the 2012 elections were sealed, requires that commercial building owners take concrete steps to reduce their buildings’ overall weight and conserve gravity. Unlike many other building code revisions, this one was especially costly as it was applied retroactively to existing structures in areas of high population density on the grounds that excessive population growth was, according to EPA sub-director Gertrude Eibeme, “using up scarce gravity for future generations.”