EPA overreach

Sep 27, 2013

The recent weather roller coaster has me wondering when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is going to step in. With all of the Colorado flooding wreaking havoc on feedlots and oil fields, I’m sure there are countless fines to be handed out and new regulations to be made.

Fortunately for agriculture, at the moment, the EPA is busy going after coal companies, so Colorado’s new “wetlands” may get overlooked.

The Obama administration’s new climate change project is adding fuel for more EPA regulations in several industries, but coal companies drew the short straw this time and got to move to the front of the line.

Since 1970, the EPA has been filling its coffers. According to a report by Wayne Crews at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in 2012, the government enacted 1,172 new regulations; 16 percent more than were completed in 2011.

Crews found the total costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.8 trillion in 2012— more than the government collects annually in corporate and individual taxes. Regulatory costs amount to more than $14,000 per family per year.

In addition, Since EPA regulations have expanded, unemployment in America has increased by 33 percent.

EPA was established “to consolidate in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection. Since its inception, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people,” according to the website.

If I remember correctly, this administration has touted a plan to restore science and remove the politics… and create jobs.

Last week, the Obama administration was busy defending new regulations that would set the first national limits on heat-trapping carbon pollution from existing power plants. To meet the new standards, coalfired plants would have to install expensive new technology to capture a portion of their carbon dioxide emissions and bury them underground.

Maybe that’s creating jobs… or is it just putting an industry out of business?

The jury is still out on the purpose for these regulations.

“The EPA does not anticipate that this proposed rule will result in notable CO2 emission changes, energy impacts, monetized benefits, costs, or economic impacts by 2022,” the EPA writes under the comments section of its proposal.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy defended the EPA from criticism by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. In a Sept. 23 letter to the editor of The Boston Globe, Smith questioned the science behind EPA’s plan, noting that the EPA had not provided the committee with data from a 1993 Harvard University study on the link between air pollution and health as promised by McCarthy.

“Virtually all Clean Air Act regulations under the Obama administration have been justified based on these data. The American people deserve all the facts and have a right to know whether the EPA is using good science,” Smith wrote. “If the EPA has nothing to hide, why not make the information public?” McCarthy countered, claiming the science was world-renowned and “the scientists themselves don’t seem to be questioning.”

“The issue really is they are asking us to present basically 30 years of science that deals with personal information and medical confidential information that we don’t have, that we don’t own,” she added.

It appears the EPA has turned over a new leaf. They sure didn’t seem to have any problem handing out personal information on cattle producers.

So just how busy is the EPA? To put it in perspective, during the first 18 months of the second Bush administration, the EPA proposed 16 “significant regulations” which would have an economic impact of $100 million or more. During the first 18 months of the Obama administration, that number shot up to 42.

While the EPA continues to rack up the regulatory fines, the economic burden will continue to be loss of jobs and increased energy costs, not to mention, putting U.S. businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the global perspective.

As I am always one to look for the “glass half full” perspective, there is one positive out of the EPA overreach, at least for someone; the lawyers and the environmentalists are guaranteed jobs. — TRACI EATHERTON