Front Page Mag.com
October 10, 2011
EPA to Increase Tenfold!
The Environmental Agency is planning to double its budget to $21 billion and expand its workforce of 18,000 to 230,000 regulators over the next four years.
The Clean Air Act states that any stationary source that emits as little as 100 tons of pollutants per year must get permits from the EPA and state agencies. A typical restaurant or apartment house sends out 100 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Currently about 14,000 entities have to get permits. But by regulating CO2 through the Clean Air Act, the number of businesses requiring EPA permits will soar to more than 6 million.
This potential explosion of regulators all began with a Supreme Court decision in a landmark environmental case decided in April 2007. The court’s ruling was an historic turning point in the environment of fright over global warming. The environmentalists almost went gaga over the court ruling. In a 5-4 strange decision the court said that carbon dioxide—the air every human and animal exhales—is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and that the EPA had the power to regulate CO2 emissions from vehicles. The case, Massachusetts vs. EPA, was a defeat for the Bush Administration.
A key question in the case was: Does EPA have the discretion not to regulate those emissions?
The Court remanded the case to EPA, requiring the agency to review the contention that it had discretion in regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The Court found the current rationale for not regulating to be inadequate and required the agency to articulate a reasonable basis in order to avoid regulation.
During the Bush Administration, the EPA had argued that it had no authority to regulate so-called “tailpipe emissions” of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that supposedly contribute to global warming, because they are “non-point” emission sources. They are not fixed geographically, unlike coal-fired power plants that are “point” sources and closely regulated. Vehicles account for about 20 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, while power plants account for about 40 percent.
The case put three questions before the court:
Do states have the right to sue the EPA to challenge its decision?
Does the Clean Air Act give EPA the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases?
Does EPA have the discretion not to regulate those emissions?
The court answered yes to the first two questions. On the third question, the court stopped short of requiring the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Instead, the court ordered the agency to re-evaluate its position that it has no obligation to regulate vehicle tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases and is free to exercise its discretion to leave the problem unaddressed.
The majority, led by Justice John Paul Stevens, said the EPA had offered a “laundry list” of reasons for failing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and told the agency that its rationale must be grounded in the Clean Air Act if it wants to continue arguing that it should not be required to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
“EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change,” Stevens said in the majority opinion. Joining Stevens in the majority were Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Anthony Kennedy.
Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s three other conservative justices—Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas—dissented in the decision.
While hailing the Supreme Court decision as a heart-throbbing victory in the fight to reduce global warming, environmentalists also noted that Congress would have to take up where the court left off.
“It’s important to remember the Court did not rule EPA has to take action on climate change; that’s why this is ultimately up to Congress. The Court did all it can, but if we’re really going to fix climate change, Congress has to pass a cap on carbon pollution, and soon,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.
In a Sept 28 article Steven F. Hayward, the F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and an expert on the Clean Air Act, wrote that “Congress never intended this and even said so” during floor debate over 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act. Senate Environmental Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), however, took up the environmentalists’ cause as if wielding a cattle prod in her anxiety to make new rules.
Hayward noted in his article that the delegation of power to administrative agencies is “sorely abused.” He cited ObamaCare as an example. This delegation of law-making power, can give any decision “the force of law.”
The EPA itself says the proposed greenhouse gas rules may be “absurd” and “impossible to administer” by its self-imposed deadline of 2016. EPA is being challenged in court by petitioners who maintain that such a decision should be left to Congress. The Coalition for Responsible Regulation, a trade group, is suing the EPA.
EPA admitted its regulatory efforts aren’t likely to succeed. But it decided, with political drive, to move ahead anyway. “Hiring the 230,000 full-time employees necessary to produce the 1.4 billion work hours required to” increase the “permitting functions would result in an increase in Title V administration costs of $21 billion per year,” EPA wrote in a court brief.
The Institute for Energy Research, a non-profit research group founded in 1989, warned EPA in 2009 that if the agency went forward, the Clean Air Act would require the agency to regulate large sources of carbon dioxide emissions, but also 260,000 office buildings, 150,000 warehouses, 100,000 schools, 92,000 health-care facilities, 58,000 food service buildings, 37,000 churches, 26,000 place of public assembly and 17,000 farms. It said that Congress never intended such regulations under the Clean Air Act.
“With Private investment stalled and unemployment unacceptably high, the American economy needs regulatory certainty and lower energy prices, not even more constraints and hurdles placed on job creators,” the Institute for Energy Research said in plain English that even uncaring Obama’s EPA should be able to understand.
Obama Halts EPA Regulation On Smog Standards
WASHINGTON — In a dramatic reversal, President Barack Obama scrubbed a clean-air regulation that aimed to reduce health-threatening smog, yielding to bitterly protesting businesses and congressional Republicans who complained the rule would kill jobs in America's ailing economy.
Withdrawal of the proposed regulation marked the latest in a string of retreats by the president in the face of GOP opposition, and it drew quick criticism from liberals. Environmentalists, a key Obama constituency, accused him of caving to corporate polluters, and the American Lung Association threatened to restart the legal action it had begun against rules proposed by President George W. Bush.
The White House has been under heavy pressure from GOP lawmakers and major industries, which have slammed the stricter standard as an unnecessary jobs killer. The Environmental Protection Agency, whose scientific advisers favored the tighter limits, had predicted the proposed change would cost up to $90 billion a year, making it one of the most expensive environmental regulations ever imposed in the U.S.
However, the Clean Air Act bars the EPA from considering the costs of complying when setting public health standards.
Obama said his decision was made in part to reduce regulatory burdens and uncertainty at a time of rampant questions about the strength of the U.S. economy.
Underscoring the economic concerns: a new report Friday that showed the economy essentially adding no jobs in August and the unemployment rate stubbornly stuck at 9.1 percent.
The regulation would have reduced concentrations of ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, a powerful lung irritant that can cause asthma and other lung ailments. Smog is created when emissions from cars, power and chemical plants, refineries and other factories mix in sunlight and heat.
Republican lawmakers, already emboldened by Obama's concessions on extending Bush-era tax cuts and his agreement to more than $1 trillion in spending reductions as the price for raising the nation's debt ceiling, had pledged to try to block the stricter smog standards as well as other EPA regulations when they returned to Washington after Labor Day.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had muted praise for the White House Friday, saying that withdrawal of the smog regulation was a good first step toward removing obstacles that are blocking business growth.
"But it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stopping Washington Democrats' agenda of tax hikes, more government `stimulus' spending and increased regulations, which are all making it harder to create more American jobs," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.
Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the move was "an enormous victory for America's job creators, the right decision by the president and one that will help reduce the uncertainty facing businesses."
White House officials said the president's decision was not the product of industry pressure, and they said the administration would continue to fight other efforts by Republicans to dismantle the EPA's authority.
But that was little consolation for many of the president's supporters. The group MoveOn.org issued a scathing statement, saying Obama's decision was one it would have expected from his Republican predecessor.
"Many MoveOn members are wondering today how they can ever work for President Obama's re-election, or make the case for him to their neighbors, when he does something like this, after extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and giving in to tea party demands on the debt deal," said Justin Ruben, the group's executive director.
The American Lung Association, which had sued the EPA over Bush's smog standards, said it would resume its legal fight now that Obama was essentially endorsing the weaker limit. The group had suspended its lawsuit after the Obama administration pledged to change it.
Obama's decision, in fact, mirrors one made by Bush in 2008. After EPA scientists recommended a stricter standard to better protect public health, Bush personally intervened after hearing complaints from electric utilities and other affected industries. His EPA set a standard of 75 parts per billion, stricter than one adopted in 1997, but not as strong as federal scientists said was needed to protect public health.
In March, the EPA's independent panel of scientific advisers sent a letter to the agency's administrator, Lisa Jackson, saying it was its unanimous recommendation to make the smog standards stronger and that the evidence was "sufficiently certain" that the range proposed in January 2010 under Obama would benefit public health.
But the White House, which has pledged to base decisions on science, said Friday the science behind its initial decision needed to be updated, a process already under way at EPA. The smog standard now is to be revised until 2013.
Whether Obama still occupies the White House at that point depends on the outcome of next year's presidential election.
Cass Sunstein, the head of the White House regulatory office, said changing the smog regulation now, only to have it be reconsidered again in two years, would create unnecessary uncertainty for the private sector and local governments.
The stricter limits initially proposed by Obama would have doubled the number of counties in violation. Smoggy cities such as Los Angeles and Houston would have been joined by counties in California's Napa Valley and one in Kansas with a population of 3,000. They would have had up to 20 years to meet the new limits, once EPA settled on a final number, or would have faced federal penalties.
In his statement, the president said scrapping the stronger smog standards did not reflect a weakening of his commitment to protecting public health and the environment.
"I will continue to stand with the hardworking men and women at the EPA as they strive every day to hold polluters accountable and protect our families from harmful pollution," Obama said.
Even before Friday's decision – announced as many Americans were paying more attention to their Labor Day weekend plans than the news – the White House has faced some criticism for its record on the environment. Obama abandoned a campaign pledge to set the first-ever limits on the pollution blamed for global warming, and he announced an expansion of offshore drilling before the Gulf oil spill sidelined those plans.
However, he has successfully taken other steps to reduce air pollution, such as doubling fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, clamping down on pollution from power plants that blows downwind and setting the first national standard for mercury, a toxic metal, from power plants, all in the face of Republican and industry opposition.
The ground-level ozone standard is closely associated with public health – something the president said he wouldn't compromise in his regulatory review.
Obama’s EPA is Killing More Jobs than Economy Can Create
Obama says he will get focused on the jobs problem just as soon as he returns from his August vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Like the more famous Hamptons, the Vineyard is a playground of the rich and famous out to find some summer enjoyment on the Atlantic shore. Just before leaving, Obama articulated his number one goal is to grow the economy.
But while Obama is playing jetsetter, back in Washington a crucial regulatory agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been captured by a group of extremists who actually believe the USA would be better off with a smaller economy.
In some of the economy’s most hopeful corners, these bureaucrats are wielding all of the levers of regulatory authority in their arsenal to kill growth. Just as the “green shoots” of recovery sprout, they come along with a can of herbicidal regulations and kill the sprout. As long as Obama leaves these extremists in charge of the agency, the economy is unlikely to recover and will suffer.
Having a reliable national electrical infrastructure is vital to new job creation.
Yet new EPA regulations will significantly reduce the amount of electricity generated from coal-fired energy flowing from our power grid. The EPA told the public that the agency was working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to determine the impact of its regulations on the reliability of the nation’s electricity capacity. This was to include a joint modeling effort.
However, responses from FERC Commissioners to an inquiry from Congress regarding the degree of agency coordination on the impact of the agency’s new rules clearly shows the EPA statements were not truthful. Correspondence from the FERC chairman and commissioners revealed the commission is not working on a formal assessment of the impact of the EPA regulations on the ability of our power grid to reliably deliver electricity to the nation’s homes and businesses.
“The EPA’s deception of the public is outrageous and it exposes the agency’s underlying zeal to regulate without regard to the consequences of its actions. EPA’s actions may very well put the reliability of our electricity supply in jeopardy,” said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project.
These job killing EPA regulations are part of a wider program to “curb man made climate change” or global warming. But the science behind this believed threat to the planet’s existence keeps melting away under scrutiny.
The latest example is the Polar Bear’s supposed struggle against extinction.
According to a report in Human Events, “special agents from the Interior Department’s inspector general’s office are questioning the two government scientists about the paper they wrote on drowned polar bears, suggesting mistakes were made in the math and as to how the bears actually died, and the department is eyeing another study currently underway on bear populations.”
The biologist in charge, Charles Monnett, has actually been placed on administrative leave because of findings in the investigation. His fellow biologist Jeffrey Gleason, is also being questioned, but has yet to be suspended.
Human Events also reports, “the disputed paper was published by the journal Polar Biology in 2006, and suggests that the ‘drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open-water periods continues.’”
The Polar Bear story is not an isolated illustration of the problem. Every time the topic of oil and gas development comes up for the Arctic region, the bears are an obstacle and used as the reason we cannot hire people to begin the process of extracting these resources.
A deeper look reveals hundreds of economic development projects have been stopped because regulators are more concerned with protecting the “Goddess Gaia” ( the mother earth goddess), than they are getting Americans back to work. There are mountains of examples of junk science methodology being used by federal and state regulatory agencies which are blocking economic growth in nearly every state.
If Obama is really serious about the nation’s staggering unemployment, he will solve this regulatory stranglehold that is stunting economic growth.
©2011 Floyd and Mary Beth Brown. The Browns are bestselling authors and speakers. To comment on this column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Together they write a national weekly column distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Floyd is also president of the Western Center for Journalism. For more info call Cari Dawson Bartley at 800 696 7561 or e-mail email@example.com.
US House Votes To Curb EPA Authority Under Clean Water Act
By Tennille Tracy, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The House of Representatives has taken another step to limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency, voting Wednesday to restrict the agency's ability to veto certain permits for coal-mining projects and to override water-pollution standards adopted by the states.
In a closely watched move, the Republican-led House approved a bill to rein in the EPA's authority under the Clean Water Act, with a 239-184 vote falling mostly along party lines.
The passage of the bill follows the EPA's controversial decision in January to veto a permit granted several years earlier to the coal company Arch Coal Inc. (ACI). The EPA's move to revoke the Arch Coal permit prompted a wave of criticism from Republicans and coal-state Democrats.
"There is no question that the action that we've seen from EPA has unleashed an unprecedented backlash," said Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.), an author of the bill and chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. "EPA has indeed created a regulatory nightmare that affects almost every state in the union."
The bill approved Wednesday would have prevented the EPA from overturning the Arch Coal permit unless state officials had agreed with the move.
The White House already has threatened to veto the legislation. In a statement released Tuesday, the Obama administration said the legislation "would roll back key provisions" of the law that has been "the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the nation's waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable."
The EPA has said the bill would reduce its ability to make sure water standards in one state did not affect water quality in other states. The agency also has said the bill could increase the number of lawsuits from environmental groups.
While the bill easily passed through the House, its fate in the Democrat- controlled Senate is much less certain. Other bills passed by the House to curb EPA's actions have failed to gain traction in the Senate.
Introduced by Mica and Rep. Nick Rahall (D., W.Va.), the highest-ranking Democrat on the House transportation committee, the bill includes a number of measures to restrict the EPA's ability to overturn the actions of the states. Specifically, it restricts the EPA's ability to issue new or revised water standards unless the states agree with the move.
The House also adopted one amendment. Offered by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from coal-rich West Virginia, the amendment requires the EPA to analyze the impact of its actions on jobs and economic activity.
The bill also restricts the EPA's ability to revoke permits issued by the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers that are necessary for coal-mining projects.
According to the National Mining Association, the EPA is currently reviewing more than 200 of such permits to determine whether it agrees with the Corps's approval. The measure ensures that "an approved federal permit cannot be revoked and the mining jobs it supports arbitrarily destroyed," said NMA spokesman Luke Popovich.
Wednesday's vote marks the latest effort by House Republicans to block the EPA's actions and to blunt its existing powers. Earlier this year, the House approved a bill that prevents the agency from regulating greenhouse gases for the purposes of addressing climate change. The House also passed a measure that imposes deadlines on the EPA to review clean-air permits for offshore drilling projects.
Republicans contend the EPA's environmental standards are too burdensome and costly for businesses to meet.
Wednesday's vote drew swift criticism from environmental groups.
"These elected leaders in the House are on a dangerous and misguided course to gut the Clean Water Act at any cost, even if it means our waters will be too polluted to drink or even swim in," said Earthjustice senior legislative counsel Joan Mulhern.