Sep 2, 2011
EPA overkill

It’s time somebody gets a handle on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and reins in this outfit. This is one of those government agencies that started with good intentions and has done a good service for the most part. However, over the past few years, the agency has become the Obama administration’s tool of choice to impose what they might call “social justice” on the country.

The Wall Street Journal has been all over this agency pointing out just how much damage the agency can cost the economy if their aggressive agenda on environmental justice is completed. Jobs are the number one issue for this country and the multitude of unreasonable regulations imposed by EPA challenges the national efforts to grow the economy and get people back to work because of costly, unproductive fines.

We have been watching the EPA closely for some time and since the Obama administration took office, it’s amazing how aggressive this agency is today. EPA has become the most punitive government agency of them all, perhaps more intrusive and punitive than the Internal Revenue Service.

With the U.S. economy in tough shape and struggling to compete in a global market, it’s perplexing why this agency has been used to exacerbate a business environment that works against creating jobs and moving the economy forward.

EPA has been issuing compliance orders to various organizations and local and state governments to remedy problems that EPA defines are within environmental law. If a company doesn’t comply in time, or perhaps can’t afford to comply, they will impose punitive civil penalties on the organization.

Last week, six confined feeding operations in the Midwest were issued compliance orders to fix perceived waste water issues. Several were under 1,000-head feedlots. To date, there are no fines recorded, but EPA fines typically come out several months after the compliance order is issued. We’ll be watching this one as the process moves along.

This next week, congress is back in session and EPA regulations will get a lot more attention. Also, the president is planning on announcing his jobs program, which I’m not expecting to have any dramatic initiatives. The Republicans have also planned their jobs agenda as well.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has announced he will target 10 of the most job-destructive regulations for repeal and try and relieve some of the regulatory burdens that will have a significant impact to the economy.

Ironically, most of his target regulations are from EPA, and it’s hard to figure out how this agency could come up with many of these regulations in the first place. Of his top 10, seven are EPA regulations concerning energy production, boilers, cement, dust, ozone and, of course, greenhouse gases. The other three concern the National Labor Relations Board and Obama Care.

The Republicans plan to introduce the Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act, Energy Tax Prevention Act, and the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act. Each of these acts target the over-regulations from EPA and help to create jobs, putting the economy back on track. The Obama administration’s agenda appears to have little regard for putting people back to work and allowing the economy to create wealth. And one does not come without the other.

I’m generally OK with much of the work EPA does, but they are absolutely stepping out of bounds now. It seems they are starting to determine who will survive in this economy, and who will not. Certainly, no one wants dirty air or water, or a toxic waste dump in their back yard, but there is a point of reason. We are never going to make every drop of water pure and clean, or all the air dust free. Their agenda has gone beyond unrealistic, fueled by pressures from other government areas and environmentalists.

According to Congressman James Inhofe, the handfull of these EPA regulations will cost over a trillion dollars in lost gross domestic product. We are talking about 8 percent of the economy placed firmly on the shoulders of EPA and the Obama administration.

To illustrate their agenda more clearly, EPA recently awarded several groups in the New Orleans area $478,000 for what they call environmental justice, job training and education grants. My favorite item on their list of recipients is $25,000 to the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental justice grant that will provide air quality sampling in industrial areas of southeast Louisiana.

If they really want to create jobs in Louisiana, all they have to do is get out of the way and let the oil business go back to work. The same goes for agriculture. —— PETE CROW