This video was published by Senator Ted Cruz. In it shows how Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez would become the EPA Administrator in a Biden Cabinet.
©All rights reserved.
This video was published by Senator Ted Cruz. In it shows how Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez would become the EPA Administrator in a Biden Cabinet.
©All rights reserved.
“The war against coal is over” was the message coming out of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s visit with coal miners yesterday in Hazard, Kentucky.
Today Pruitt signed a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” beginning the regulatory process to repeal President Obama’s Orwellian-named “Clean Power Plan.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt minced no words:
“The Obama administration pushed the bounds of their authority so far with the CPP that the Supreme Court issued a historic stay of the rule, preventing its devastating effects to be imposed on the American people while the rule is being challenged in court,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We are committed to righting the wrongs of the Obama administration by cleaning the regulatory slate. Any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule.”
We posted EPA’s full press release at CFACT.org.
Pruitt’s points are well taken.
President Obama’s EPA indulged in broad regulatory overreach when it promulgated the “CPP,” which goes far behind its mandate and authority under the “Clean Air Act.” Bureaucrats usurping the role of Congress was a staple of the Obama era. Administrator Pruitt is determined to restore the rule of law.
Moreover, the CPP fails not only as a matter of law, but even worse on substance.
The CPP flunks any rational cost-benefit analysis, imposing massive economic damage on the United States while doing nothing meaningful to alter temperature of the Earth, even if climate computer models were spot on — which they have never been!
EPA now estimates that if allowed to go forward the “Clean Power Plan” would cost $33 billion in 2030!
Good riddance to this ill-conceived energy draining, economy-wrecking plan.
Well done Administrator Pruitt.
RELATED ARTICLE: Rolling Back Obama EPA Rule Could Save $33 Billion
John Casey, author and former NASA rocket scientist, has taught me three facts about the climate:
As John notes the only thing that mankind can do is prepare for these changes using good science and the best climate prediction tools to warn us of the coming changes.
The New American (TNA) interviewed Princeton University Professor William Happer on the notion that CO2 is a pollutant and is the cause of climate change, formally known as global warming. TNA reports:
Physics Professor William Happer discredits the negative effects of CO2 on the planet and whether or not climate change is man-made. He also goes into detail of why the United Nation’s models are incorrect despite their overwhelming confidence that significant warming is taking place due to human activity.
Erick Erickson in a column titled The Real Reason Leftwing Groups Are Freaked Out by Trump’s EPA Pick reports:
Leftwing groups are freaking out about Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General and Donald Trump’s nominee for the EPA. It is safe to say that the collective meltdown over Pruitt is greater than over any other Trump pick. You probably have no idea why and it has nothing to do with climate change.
Superficially, progressives are saying that Pruitt is a climate change denier and has no business managing the agency he sued so often. But that’s just cover.
The real reason has everything to do with money.
With the blessing of the Department of Justice, the EPA has been going after major corporations and telling those corporations that they can pay a massive fine to the federal government or pay a lesser amount to various environmentalist groups.
Its always about the money. Radical environmentalists are being funded by the EPA. The EPA is using its power to regulate and partnering with the DOJ to harm every business in America.
Well there’s a new sheriff in town and this government theft is going to stop.
History proves that President Obama’s plan to slap a ten-dollar tax on every barrel of oil imported into America or developed here to use the money for transformation is both is both fool-hearty and wasteful. Once again, one of the big chiefs of overbearing nanny goat government is threatening to use unconstitutional bullying to dictate the activities of “We the People.” This time seeking to increase the tax burden upon business activity and consumption. The president stated, “I will take advantage of low gas prices to accelerate a transition to a clean energy economy.” “We’re going to impose a tax on a barrel of oil imported, exported, so that some of the revenue can be used for the investments in basic research and technology that’s going to be needed for the energy sources of the future.”
Oil industry officials, who are always accused by progressive government types like Obama and their cohorts in the dragon media of being greedy, stated that Obama’s proposed $10.00 per barrel tax on crude oil would harm consumers. “The Obama administration believes that we the American people are not paying enough for gasoline.” That is why he wants to dictate a higher price for us to pay more for gasoline. The proposed tax could increase the cost of gasoline by at least 25 cents per gallon. That development could harm consumers who have ale=ready been hurt by the president’s efforts to “fundamentally change America.”
In addition, more American jobs could be wiped out. Also our republic’s emergence as a global energy leader could be brought to a halt, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Actually, that is a goal of the Alinsky inspired Obama administration.
Now that I think about it, no one is more to blame than the bloated federal government for any problems our republic is facing in regards to energy production or transportation. If you research the mid nineteenth until the early twentieth century, the private sector was providing a vastly superior system of transportation over what has emerged as government transit systems throughout America. For example, Both Cleveland and Detroit had rail transportation throughout both cities and surrounding areas.
All major thoroughfares and many minor streets had streetcar or rail transport that ran often and almost always on time, baring any natural disaster. The service was provided by mostly private companies who competed for customers. The various transportation systems did not overlap and even the quality and cleanliness of the streetcars, or trolleys were well maintained.
In Detroit, among the private companies providing transportation service were the Fort Street and Elmwood Avenue Railway Company, Detroit Railway Company and several others. Streetcar or rail service for public transport began during the 1860s in both Cleveland and Detroit as horse drawn trolleys. By 1895 all were converted to electric power.
The nature of government is to progressively either take over or dismantle and then dominate private entities. That was the case in both Cleveland and Detroit. In Detroit, during the early 20th century, the transit companies raised their adult ridership price by one nickel to a “whopping” ten cents. Soon after, the populist city government bullies who desired to take over the transit business publically railed against the nickel increase and duped Detroit voters into approving the city government takeover of transportation services. City misleaders had convinced city dwellers that they could provide better transportation services at a lower price by using tax dollars to subsidize the trolley services. That false scenario was played out in other cities as well including New York City.
In fact, the original private based companies that oversaw the building of the earlier subway tunnels in the Big Apple constructed them at a much quicker pace than the tax payer funded union trolls who built subway tunnels in the following decades.
What does the story about past government takeovers of private transportation services have to do with Obama’s call for increasing crude oil taxes today? It is simple, if government had not gotten involved and taken over viable private run transportation companies, I believe that cities like Detroit would have maintained great transportation systems it their customers desired to continue utilizing transportation systems.
The problem is big government getting involved, thus killing innovation and in most cases quality of service. How much further ahead regarding energy independence would America be, if only the United States had not been prevented from increasing oil and gas exploration and production by the Obama administration? Before the curse and onslaught of the Obamacare being thrust upon our republic “We the People” were blessed with the best medical care on earth, but now it is in steady decline.
If Obama wants improved transportation options for America, the government tax regulations and tax burdens must be lessened and certain taxes such as on production should be eliminated as soon as possible, which should be now. As a result there would come about increased economic activity would fuel incentives for needed changes that the American people desire, not wasteful unwanted government mandates that only bring about destructive and unnecessary declines in the quality of life and related hardships.
RELATED ARTICLE: Supreme Court Halts Obama’s Aggressive Climate Agenda
Why did the Supreme Court pause EPA’s Clean Power Plan?
The Supreme Court granted a stay of EPA’s carbon regulations—the Clean Power Plan.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board called it an “important rebuke to the political method of the anticarbon activists in the EPA and White House.”
Ditching fossils fuels will be a capital-intensive and generation-long transition, to the extent it is possible, and states must submit compliance plans as soon as this September that are supposed to last through 2030, or be subject to a federal takeover.
The legal challenges will take years, but the EPA hopes to engineer a fait accompli by bullrushing the states into making permanent revisions immediately. Once the Clean Power Plan starts, it becomes self-executing. If the EPA loses down the road, it will laugh that the opinion is too late and thus pointless.
[ … ]
The stay suggests that a majority of the Court won’t allow this deliberate gaming of the slow pace of the legal process to become de facto immunity for anything the EPA favors. It’s especially notable because courts tend to be highly deferential to executive regulation.
What exactly did the court do?
Why did the court do this?
And why have states, businesses, labor unions, and trade associations–including the U.S. Chamber—welcomed this decision as they fight EPA’s regulatory overreach?
I spoke with Heath Knakmuhs, senior director of policy at the Institute for 21st Century Energy to get some answers.
And to understand the international implications of the Supreme Court’s stay, read Stephen Eule’s piece.
The Zika virus is spreading by mosquitoes northward through Latin America, possibly correlated with birth defects such as microcephaly in infants. Stories and photos of their abnormally small skulls are making headlines. The World Health Organization reports that four million people could be infected by the end of 2016.
On Monday, the WHO is meeting to decide how to address the crisis. The international body should recommend that the ban on DDT should be reversed, in order to kill the mosquitoes that carry Zika and malaria, a protistan parasite that has no cure.
Zika is in the news, but it is dwarfed by malaria. About 300 million to 600 million people suffer each year from malaria, and it kills about 1 million annually, 90 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. We have the means to reduce Zika and malaria — and we are not using it.
Under the Global Malaria Eradication Program, which started in 1955, DDT was used to kill the mosquitoes that carried the parasite, and malaria was practically eliminated. Some countries such as Sri Lanka, which started using DDT in the late 1940s, saw profound improvements. Reported cases fell from nearly 3 million a year to just 17 cases in 1963. In Venezuela, cases fell from over 8 million in 1943 to 800 in 1958. India saw a dramatic drop from 75 million cases a year to 75,000 in 1961.
This changed with the publication of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring, which claimed that DDT was hazardous. After lengthy hearings between August 1971 and March 1972, Judge Edmund Sweeney, the EPA hearing examiner, decided that there was insufficient evidence to ban DDT and that its benefits outweighed any adverse effects. Yet, two months afterwards, then-EPA Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus overruled him and banned DDT, effective December 31, 1972.
Other countries followed, and DDT was banned in 2001 for agriculture by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This was a big win for the mosquitoes, but a big loss for people who lived in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
Carson claimed that DDT, because it is fat soluble, accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals and humans as the compound moved through the food chain, causing cancer and other genetic damage. Carson’s concerns and the EPA action halted the program in its tracks, and malaria deaths started to rise again, reaching 600,000 in 1970, 900,000 in 1990 and over 1,000,000 in 1997 — back to pre-DDT levels.
Some continue to say that DDT is harmful, but others say that DDT was banned in vain. There remains no compelling evidence that the chemical has produced any ill public health effects. According to an article in the British medical journal the Lancet by Professor A.G. Smith of Leicester University,
The early toxicological information on DDT was reassuring; it seemed that acute risks to health were small. If the huge amounts of DDT used are taken into account, the safety record for human beings is extremely good. In the 1940s many people were deliberately exposed to high concentrations of DDT thorough dusting programmes or impregnation of clothes, without any apparent ill effect… In summary, DDT can cause toxicological effects but the effects on human beings at likely exposure are very slight.
Even though nothing is as cheap and effective as DDT, it is not a cure-all for malaria. But a study by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences concluded that spraying huts in Africa with DDT reduces the number of mosquitoes by 97 percent compared with huts sprayed with an alternative pesticide. Those mosquitoes that do enter the huts are less likely to bite.
By forbidding DDT and relying on more expensive, less effective methods of prevention, we are causing immense hardship. Small environmental losses are inferior to saving thousands of human lives and potentially increasing economic growth in developing nations.
We do not yet have data on the economic effects of the Zika virus, but we know that countries with a high incidence of malaria can suffer a 1.3 percent annual loss of economic growth. According to a Harvard/WHO study, sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP could be $100 billion greater if malaria had been eliminated 35 years ago.
Rachel Carson died in 1964, but the legacy of Silent Spring and its recommended ban on DDT live with us today. Millions are suffering from malaria and countless others are contracting the Zika virus as a result of the DDT ban. They were never given the choice of living with DDT or dying without it. The World Health Organization should recognize that DDT has benefits, and encourage its use in combating today’s diseases.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, is director of Economics21 and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Penny Starr in a CNSNews.com article titled “NOAA Website on Climate: Earth’s Hottest Period Occurred Before Man Existed” reports:
The global climate change agreement adopted at the United Nation’s conference in Paris is making headlines, but a federal government website dedicated to weather makes the case that the warmest time on Earth happened before mankind existed, and in fact, it was at one time so hot that crocodiles lived among palm trees in the Arctic Circle.An Aug. 12, 2014 article posted on climate.gov and titled, “What’s The Hottest The Earth’s Ever Been,” stated, “Earth’s hottest periods—the Hadean, the late Neoproterozoic, the PETM—occurred before humans existed.” It added, “Those ancient climates would have been like nothing our species has ever seen.”
The article noted that the Arctic Circle was once a tropical hot spot:
“Stretching from about 66-34 million years ago, the Paleocene and Eocene were the first geologic epochs following the end of the Mesozoic Era. (The Mesozoic—the age of dinosaurs—was itself an era punctuated by ‘hothouse’ conditions.)
Geologists and paleontologists think that during much of the Paleocene and early Eocene, the poles were free of ice caps, and palm trees and crocodiles lived above the Arctic Circle. The transition between the two epochs around 56 million years ago was marked by a rapid spike in global temperature.”
In its earliest days “when [Earth] was still colliding with other rocky debris,” the temperature was “upward of 3,600 degree Fahrenheit,” the article noted.
During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, “the global temperature appears to have risen by as much as 5-8 degrees” Centigrade (9 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit), the article stated. (Note: the Paris climate change agreement is designed to stop Earth’s temperature from rising 2 degrees Fahrenheit, an increase caused by human activity, according to the U.N.)
“Covert propaganda” is something you’d expect from a foreign spy agency not from EPA. Yet that’s what the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded in a report on the agency’s efforts to sell its water rule– Waters of the United States (WOTUS), The New York Times reports:
Federal agencies are allowed to promote their own policies, but are not allowed to engage in propaganda, defined as covert activity intended to influence the American public. They also are not allowed to use federal resources to conduct so-called grass-roots lobbying — urging the American public to contact Congress to take a certain kind of action on pending legislation.
As it promoted the Waters of the United States rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, the E.P.A. violated both of those prohibitions, a 26-page legal opinion signed by Susan A. Poling, the general counsel to the G.A.O., concluded in an investigation requested by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
“E.P.A. appealed to the public to contact Congress in opposition to pending legislation in violation of the grass-roots lobbying prohibition,” the report says.
The story came on the radar earlier this year when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy bragged to a Senate Committee about the outpouring of public support for its (then) proposed water rule:
We have received over 1 million comments and 87.1 percent of those comments we have counted so far… are supportive of this rule.
Led by Tom Reynolds, the agency’s top communications adviser, EPA fired up its propaganda machine to counter critics of WOTUS—farmers, ranchers, home builders, the golf industry, and other businesses–who pointed out how the rule will empower federal bureaucrats to regulate “wetlands, intermittent streams, ephemeral steams (those that only flow after a rainfall or snowmelt) , and man-made bodies of water like ditches, ponds, and canals,” federalize local land use decisions, and make it even harder to build things in America.
One cog in that machine was social media. In September 2014, the agency used social media tool Thunderclap to push pro-WOTUS messages on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.
EPA’s Thunderclap campaign said, “Clean water is important to me. I support EPA’s efforts to protect it for my health, my family, and my community,” and included a link to an EPA webpage (now unavailable) that directed the public to submit comments on the draft regulation. The effort reached 1.8 million people.
GAO determined that EPA’s use of Thunderclap was a “covert propaganda” campaign and broke the law. EPA pushed pro-WOTUS messages without properly disclosing that the agency was the author of the messages:
While EPA’s role was transparent to supporters who joined the campaign, this does not constitute disclosure to the 1.8 million people potentially reached by the Thunderclap. To those people, it appeared that their friend independently shared a message of his or her support for EPA and clean water.
In addition, the Thunderclap campaign appears to have violated the spirit of internal EPA policy. A 2010 memo on indirect lobbying from EPA’s general counsel states:
EPA employees may not explicitly or implicitly encourage the public to contact Congress in support of, or opposition to, a legislative proposal, nor explicitly encourage the public to contact state or local governments for that purpose.
EPA’s Thunderclap campaign asked the public to leave comments in support of WOTUS, which EPA Administrator McCarthy then referenced in testimony before Congress to claim overwhelming public support for the controversial rule.
Not only was EPA caught producing propaganda, GAO also found the agency engaged in inappropriate grassroots lobbying of Congress, The Times reports:
The agency is also said to have violated the anti-lobbying law when one of its public affairs officers, Travis Loop, wrote a blog post saying he was a surfer and did not “want to get sick from pollution.” That post included a link button to an advocacy group that discussed the danger that polluted water posed to surfers and, at least at one point, also included text that said “Take Action,” telling the public to “tell Congress to stop interfering with your right to clean water.”
It’s bad enough that EPA is engaging in such unprecedented regulatory overreach by crafting WOTUS, but its aggressive (and illegal) advocacy of it shows how out-of-control that agency is.
As for Tom Reynolds, who spearheaded EPA’s illegal WOTUS communications efforts, he got a promotion and is now working on climate issues in the White House.
France’s top meteorologist MrVerdier has been fired claims in his new book Climat Investigation (Climate Investigation) that leading climatologists and political leaders have “taken the world hostage” with misleading data.
“Every night I address five million French people to talk to you about the wind, the clouds and the sun. And yet there is something important, very important that I haven’t been able to tell you, because it’s neither the time nor the place to do so,” he said in a promotional video.
He added: “We are hostage to a planetary scandal over climate change – a war machine whose aim is to keep us in fear.”
The outspoken views led France 2 to take him off the air this past Monday. “I received a letter telling me not to come. I’m in shock,” he told RTL radio reporters. “This is a direct extension of what I say in my book, namely that any contrary views must be eliminated.”
ABOUT GENE KAPROWSKI
Gene Koprowski is the director of marketing at The Heartland Institute. Koprowski is the author of two books, co-author of another two books, and has been a journalist covering science and health policy since the 1980s. He has been a regular, contributing writer to The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, and Entrepreneur magazine, a staff writer for Forbes ASAP, and a columnist for United Press International (UPI). He earned an Emmy Award nomination for his work for Foxnews.com in 2008 from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Chicago) and an investigative reporting award from the Associated Press Editors in 1988. Overall, he has published under his byline nearly 4,000 reports, op/eds, and features during his extensive journalism career. He served as a health policy adviser to the governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell, from 2010-2014. He’s pictured here with his daughter, Katherine, outside the governor’s mansion in Richmond, Virginia. He is a former U.S. Naval Reserve officer and served in the Supreme Allied Command/Atlantic Headquarters and NATO. He holds degrees from The University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, and completed fellowships at the University of London, King’s College, Institute of Psychiatry, and at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He earned a professional degree in medicine with honors. Koprowski also completed a fellowship at the Institute of Psychoanalysis.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Somewhat Reasonable.
Whether it’s EPA’s water rule, tougher ozone standards, or carbon regulations, real businesses explain in their own words how they will be hurt by EPA’s overbearing regulations.
Please read these pieces and share them on social media.
Jack Field’s world has long revolved around cattle. His parents were cattle ranchers, and Field and his wife bought some of their herd several years ago and have kept the family business going. Today, they run a herd of about 120 cows in Yakima County, Washington.
“We have too many to be a hobby and not quite enough to make a living,” Field joked in an interview. “We’re a small operation, but we’re trying to grow it into a something bigger.”
That will soon be much more challenging due to overregulation from (the other) Washington.
The Fields’ livelihood and those dreams depend on their cattle, so they depend on having land on which those cattle can graze. In the past, they have always leased nearby pastures from local landowners. However, due to a new rule that expands the definition of federally protected water and gives federal regulators unprecedented authority over local land use, Field isn’t sure he’ll be able to return to those fields in the years ahead.
Under the rule, which was finalized earlier this year by the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency can claim jurisdiction over any “waters” that are deemed to be adjacent to streams, wetlands and creeks, essentially stripping away broad regulatory power from states and local jurisdictions. In the process, the EPA has opened landowners and ranchers up to a host of new permitting requirements, as well as potentially devastating fines and lawsuits.
“For the price of a postage stamp, someone who disagrees with eating red meat could now throw me into court, where I will have to spend time and money proving that I am not violating the Clean Water Act,” Field told the House Small Business Committee at a hearing last year. “I don’t think this is what anyone had in mind when Congress passed the Clean Water Act.”
With the added liability, it’s not surprising that landowners who have leased Field their property in the past have expressed concerns about his operations moving forward.
“It may very well end up that landlords decide that my cattle grazing activity now has too high a risk profile under this new rule, and they may no longer want to rent the land to me,” Field said in an interview. “If that’s the case, and I can’t find somewhere to run my cattle, I’ll have to get rid of them – that’s just the way it works. I’m not sure what we would do then.”
He later added: “It turns off landowners, farmers and livestock producers, because it just feels like a massive power grab. Frankly, it should scare everybody to death.”
It’s not merely scary, he said. It’s also counterproductive.
“Having this top-down directive coming from 3,000 miles away saying we in Washington, D.C., know what’s better for you in Washington state, or in Arizona or North Dakota or Idaho, that doesn’t sit well with folks, and as a result, it’s extremely ineffective, because the stakeholders didn’t have a say,” Fields added. “Does the EPA secretary really know what’s going on in my watershed here in Yakima, Washington? I doubt the secretary has ever even been here.”
His industry isn’t alone, either.
“The WOTUS rule will choke and stymie a wide range of small businesses, not just livestock and agriculture,” he said, noting that construction companies, timber producers and a host of other sectors have come out against the rule. “It’s basically any small business that relies on the land that could be impacted by this, and that’s why you’re seeing so many people in so many industries stand up with a unified voice and oppose the rule.”
Not surprisingly, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, which stands up for the interests of small businesses in the nation’s capital, has urged regulators to redo the rule, which federal estimates show will cost firms millions of dollars in permitting and mitigation costs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called on the EPA to throw it out, too. William Kovacs, the Chamber’s senior vice president for Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs, testified before the House Science Committee, saying that “the rule will have a chilling effect on project development and force property owners to hire consultants, specialists, and lawyers.”
Ultimately, he said, it will have “significantly adverse impacts on the country’s economy, the ability to create jobs in the U.S., and the ability of states to implement these new standards.”
So far, the EPA has ignored those warnings.
But then, that’s not all that surprising, either.
The WOTUS expansion is part of a broader regulatory overreach by the EPA in recent years, as environmental rulemakers in the nation’s capital continue to strip away powers once reserved for states and reach deeper into the day-to-day operations of private businesses around the country. In addition to WOTUS, EPA has recently proposed and finalized new rules that, for example, impose onerous new ozone standards and choke power suppliers with red tape.
The EPA’s increasingly long-armed approach to regulation not only threatens business owners like Field, it undermines otherwise effective environmental protection solutions that many states have crafted and adopted with the help of the private sector.
In Washington state, for instance, the Department of Ecology has over the past couple years moved away from what Field described as a once “litigious, heavy handed regulatory approach, not unlike what we’re seeing from the EPA.” Under the department’s new director, Maia Bellon, who took office in 2013, the state’s environmental regulators formed what became known as the agriculture and water quality advisory committee – comprised of business owners, trade groups, farmers, government officials, environmental groups and academics – to examine critical threats to water quality and other environmental issues and try to craft solutions.
“Trust me, at the beginning of the process, nobody was excited about sitting down to talk through water quality issues,” Field said of his peers in the livestock industry who showed up to the first meetings. “On the other hand, it was something that needed to be done, and at the end of the day, we knew we were getting a say and would have ownership in the outcome.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Over the course of about a year, as Field described it, the public and private sector “came together, identified the existing and potential problems, put our heads together, and came up with workable solutions.” Last month, with the help of researchers at Washington State University, the committee issued a guidance document for landowners and agricultural business owners to help them understand the risks to water quality, the protective measures that were needed, and how the industry arrived at those recommendations.
“Now, I can go out and talk with other livestock owners, explain the problems and how we came up with this plan, and they can easily understand what’s at stake and what’s needed,” Field said. “In my opinion, that’s the kind of collaborative solution we need to work toward, rather than the EPA’s heavy-handed ‘here’s our solution to all your problems’ directives.”
Instead, it appears the directives from the other Washington are going to keep on coming, drowning Field’s and many other small businesses in unnecessary and unproductive red tape.
“They need to take the rule, wad it up and throw it in the garbage, then let’s go back and do this correctly,” Field said of WOTUS. “Let’s have local discussions and listening sessions, identify the problems, have an educated discussion and come up with solutions in each state.”
Because those are the solutions that work.
“I’m not opposed to clean water; I want to drink the same water you do,” Field said. “I just think the best way to ensure that we have clean water is from a locally led effort, where we all have a say and we all have buy in from the beginning.”
Drew Greenblatt’s small manufacturing company, Marlin Steel, has already experienced exponential growth under his watch. Greenblatt, who purchased the company nearly 20 years ago with 18 employees and $800,000 in annual revenue, has nearly doubled the workforce and led the firm to $5.5 million in sales last year. He’s not ready to slow down, either.
Over the past couple years, Greenblatt has been planning to significantly expand his facility in Baltimore, Maryland. The plans, which are nearly finalized, would expand Marlin Steel’s current manufacturing space by 53 percent and allow Greenblatt to hire at least 15 more workers.
“These are middle-class, good-paying jobs,” said Greenblatt, whose firm sells wire containers and other industrial products to automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical factories. “They’re the type of jobs that pull people out of poverty, that can lift people into the middle class, that can pay for their kids to college. These are the type of jobs that our community needs.”
However, his expansion and hiring plans may soon grind to a halt because of onerous new regulations coming down the pipe from Washington.
Holding Greenblatt back is the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to further tighten ozone standards across the country, lowering the acceptable threshold of surface-level ozone in the atmosphere from 75 parts per billion (an already strict limit set in 2008) to between 65 and 70 parts per billion. While that may sound like a minor tweak, it would result in more than 300 U.S. counties falling into the “nonattainment” category, with another 200 counties at risk of not meeting (as in, hovering dangerously close to) the new ozone standard.
In those areas, many of the manufacturing and industrial firms that Marlin Steel counts as customers will see their regulatory compliance costs skyrocket as communities are forced to lower pollution levels even further than they already have (ozone levels have already dropped by a third since 1980). Every dollar spent complying with the new rules is one less dollar those manufacturers have to invest back into their firms and purchase new machinery.
Only when those manufacturers are expanding and investing in new machines do they need more steel containers (like the ones Greenblatt sells) to move goods from machine to machine within their factories. Thus, only when they’re expanding does Marlin Steel have customers.
Several longtime clients have already told Greenblatt that the EPA’s new ozone rules will put a freeze on any expansion or investment plans they had in the works.
“My clients are going to clamp down, and my phone is going to stop ringing” Greenblatt said. “When they hit pause, we have to hit pause, too, and as a result, we’re simply not going to be able to expand and hire as much as we had planned.”
That would be hard pill to swallow anywhere, but it’s “an especially devastating blow” for an employer in a city like Baltimore, Greenblatt explained. He noted that the nation watched this summer as riots erupted across the city due in part to a dearth of economic opportunity and a sense that the poor don’t have access to jobs that can lift them into the middle class.
“We’re here trying to create jobs and strengthen our communities, and Washington keeps making it harder and harder,” Greenblatt said. “It’s just another round of smackdown, and it’s a shame, because cities like ours really need these jobs.”
Marlin Steel isn’t alone. In Maryland, which has struggled to rebound from the economic downturn as it is, the new ozone rules are expected to exact a $37 billion toll on the economy and threaten 43,000 jobs, according to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers. Nationwide, the rule is expected to reduce U.S. GDP by an estimated $140 billion per year and could result in more than a million fewer jobs every year through 2040.
Many of those jobs will likely be stripped from small businesses.
“In the end, all sectors of the economy would be negatively affected by the EPA’s new, stringent NAAQS ozone regulations,” Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, wrote in an analysis of the proposed ozone rules. “That means, of course, that small businesses will be hit hardest, as is the case with nearly all regulations.”
While no sector will be spared, two industries will be hit particularly hard, she explained.
“It’s worth highlighting that energy, which has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal economy over the past eight years, and manufacturing, which is in the midst of a revitalization, would both suffer significantly under the new EPA regulations,” Kerrigan wrote. She later noted that “those sectors are very much about small business.” In fact, small businesses account for about 75 percent of manufacturers and 90 percent of trucking firms, Kerrigan added, as well as 90 percent of oil and gas extraction firms and 80 percent of oil and gas drilling companies.
SBE Council Center for Regulatory Solutions Senior Fellow Kevin Nyland, the former deputy administrator at the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has gone on record calling the new ozone rules possibly “the most expensive in U.S. history.”
Of course, EPA officials say the rules are necessary to help clean up our atmosphere. However, experts believe the rule will have minimal – if any – positive impact on air quality or health. In a letter to the agency this summer, nearly two dozen doctors-turned-lawmakers wrote that the department’s analysis of the ozone rule’s potential health benefits was flawed and that they believe “the proposal’s harm outweighs its claimed benefits.”
Back in Maryland, Greenblatt worries the rule may actually cause environmental damage.
“These rules are going to squeeze more American manufacturers out, pushing even more production overseas to places like China and India, where factories are allowed to and do in fact pump much more pollution into the atmosphere,” he said, noting that U.S. factories are already held to incredibly strict environmental standards compared to most nations.
“If we want a clean atmosphere, we should be doing everything we can to force those countries to clean up their act while at the same time tearing down barriers for American manufacturers,” he said. “Instead, all we’re doing is putting up more barriers.”
That’s frustrating from both an economic and environmental perspective, Greenblatt said.
“I breathe the air, I swim in the Chesapeake,” he said. “I want clean water and clear air, too.”
Marlin Steel’s environmental record shows he’s not just blowing smoke. In addition to implementing a myriad of energy-saving technologies at his factory, Greenblatt and his firm use 100 percent recycled steel from a plant in Indiana that churns out its raw materials by melting down, for example, old dishwashers and cars. Marlin Steel also recycles all of its scrap metal.
Most U.S. manufacturers that Greenblatt works with are taking similar steps.
“Our planet faces real environmental challenges, but the problem doesn’t lie with American factories,” Greenblatt said. “We should start focusing on where the problems actually exist, in places like India and China, rather than continuing to hammer American manufacturers who have been doing the right thing, who are already trying to help clean up our environment.”
If we don’t, he said, “rules like these will keep hurting our economy and our environment.”
John Cooper, a former mechanic in the Marine Corps, has spent the past fifteen years working for Ameren, an energy utility company in the Midwest. He started out as a laborer at the firm’s Meramec power plant in 2000, and in the years since has worked his way up to shift supervisor at that same facility in St. Louis. He now supervises the operation of all plant systems.
Soon, there won’t be any systems — or employees — left to supervise.
Last year, Ameren announced plans to close the Meramec site, the smallest of the company’s remaining coal-powered plants, by 2022. While the company has cited a number of factors that played into the decision, executives acknowledged that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new, much more strict carbon emission limits for power plants — which had been proposed one month before Ameren’s announcement — made it “clearer” the facility would have to close. In fact, the site may be shuttered even sooner depending on how the rules are implemented.
Cooper took notice.
“I have a real concern about the speed at which the changes being implemented by the Clean Power Plan will affect my work location and my life,” Cooper wrote in a comment submitted to the EPA after the agency first proposed the standards last year. “I understand environmental change is coming and I wholeheartedly accept that it is our generation’s responsibility to turn the corner on our lasting effects on the environment. However, you also need to understand that not only is our environment at stake but also the livelihoods of thousands of utility workers and the tax revenues these facilities provide.”
His lone request to the EPA? “For myself and my family, I only ask that you be patient and understanding of our plight and please try to work with my company and the many others like us to help make this transition as painless possible,” Cooper wrote.
Instead, the agency has done precisely the opposite. Officials moved with reckless abandon to implement the new emissions standards, recently issuing a final rule without even taking into account sufficient input from the small business community, as is required by federal law.
“EPA has not provided … information on the potential impacts of this rule and has not provided Small Entity Representatives with the necessary information upon which to discuss alternatives and provide recommendations to EPA, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act,” Claudia R. Rogers, acting chief counsel for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in May. Without that necessary information, Rogers pointed out, small business representatives are “unlikely to succeed at identifying reasonable regulatory alternatives for small businesses.”
Nineteen members of Congress later followed up with the agency to demand a response to Rogers’ concerns. One month later, still without an answer, several senators wrote yet another letter to McCarthy, saying: “We strongly urge the agency to work cooperatively with the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy and the small entity representatives. The integrity of this process – and the confidence that small entities have in it – requires no less.”
Like Cooper, they were ignored. The EPA, without ever answering for the steps it skipped in the rulemaking process, issued its final Clean Power Plan carbon emission rules in early August.
It’s not the first time in recent months the agency has been caught skirting its rulemaking responsibilities. In June, the Supreme Court halted the implementation of a similar rule limiting mercury emissions after discovering that the EPA failed to conduct a thorough economic cost-benefit analysis (also required by law) before starting to implement the rule.
Nor is this the only occurrence of the federal agency extending its reach into rulemaking that has historically been left up to states. Criticism has been pouring in over the agency’s recent expansion of the definition of federal waters and its newly proposed ozone standards.
In short, the agency has started asserting unprecedented power over the private sector while turning a blind eye to both the federal rulemaking process and its directives from Congress.
The result is rules like the Clean Power Plan’s carbon emission standards, which did not take into account input from the business community and which will consequently put a drain on the American economy. In the case of Ameren, the firm recently released a study suggesting that compliance with the new rules — in particular, the rule’s incremental emission reduction checkpoints over the next 15 years — would cost consumers around $4 billion.
Others have issued similar warnings. One recent study found that the Clean Power Plan would cost U.S. consumers and businesses a staggering $41 billion per year. So far, more than a dozen states’ attorney generals have already taken legal action pushing back against the regulations.
Back at Ameren, Cooper isn’t the only one with a job in jeopardy. The Meramec plant currently employs about 200 people, and the company is still considering its available transfer options.
“That is a scary thing to hear when you have dedicated 15 years of your sweat, blood and tears faithfully providing safe and reliable power to our energy grid here in Missouri,” Cooper said of closing announcement last year. “I cannot tell you how many times I have given up time with friends, holidays with my family and hours of sleep to help ensure my facilities success.”
He added, “I write to you with a real concern for myself and my colleague’s futures.”
If only the EPA would listen.
J.D. Harrison is the senior editor for digital content at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he writes extensively about health care, immigration, infrastructure, regulations and a host of other issues that influence the decisions of executives, employers and entrepreneurs. Follow J.D. @jd_harrison and email@example.com.
The following analysis is by the Institute for Energy Research:
When energy prices in the United States were high, the nation saw an exodus of companies moving offshore to obtain lower operating costs. Those industries have been slowly moving back, as hydraulic fracturing has dramatically lowered the cost of natural gas in the United States and allowed natural gas generation to compete with coal in the electricity sector. Unfortunately, President Obama’s regulations are going to make energy much more expensive in the United States, as his so-called “Clean Power Plan” and his methane rule get implemented.
The so-called Clean Power Plan is expected to decrease carbon dioxide emissions in the generating sector by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. To do this, massive amounts of coal-fired generating capacity will be shuttered and wind and solar power will be built in their stead—technologies that cost 2 to 4 times more than the coal capacity that is being shuttered. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), residential electricity prices are expected to be 16 percent higher in real prices than today due to the proposed regulation and others imposed on the generating sector by EIA.
The methane rule will force oil and natural gas producers to reduce their methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.[i] This is a daunting task, considering the oil and gas industry has already reduced methane emissions from natural gas production by 38 percent between 2005 and 2013—despite increasing gas production by 35 percent over that time period.
These regulations and others promulgated by President Obama’s EPA will increase the cost of energy to Americans. President Obama is finalizing these regulations so that he can tell the world how he intends to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at the United National Climate Conference in Paris in December. However, the reductions that the United States makes will be insignificant to any realized temperature change and an equivalent amount of emissions will be released by China in a matter of days—for essentially no net gain globally.
Manufacturing Industry Exodus
In 2005, when natural gas prices were almost 50 percent higher than they are today, there was a general exodus of companies leaving the United States and moving their manufacturing operations to Asia to reduce costs. However, since then, hydraulic fracturing has enabled the extraction of natural gas from shale formations, lowering the price of natural gas and increasing its production substantially. An accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, believes that these lower U.S. energy prices could result in one million more manufacturing jobs as firms build new factories here. Companies such as Dow Chemical and Vallourec, a French steel-tubes firm, have announced new investments in America to take advantage of low gas prices and to supply extraction equipment.[ii]
Examples of firms bringing back manufacturing operations to the United States range from tiny firms to large firms, such as General Electric, which moved manufacturing of washing machines, refrigerators and heaters from China to a factory in Kentucky, which at one time had been expected to close. Another firm, Caterpillar, is opening a new factory in Texas to make excavators, but it still plans to expand its research and development activities in China.
A survey of American manufacturing companies by the Boston Consulting Group in April 2012 indicated that 37 percent of companies with annual sales above $1 billion said they were planning or actively considering shifting production facilities from China to America. Forty-eight percent of the very biggest firms with sales above $10 billion indicated that they would bring production facilities to America. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at 108 American manufacturing firms with multinational operations and found that 14 percent of them had firm plans to bring some manufacturing back to America and one-third were actively considering such a move. Another study by the Hackett Group, a Florida-based firm that advises companies on offshoring and outsourcing, received similar results.
It may be ironic, but Chinese companies are now looking to manufacture in the United States. Keer, a textile company headquartered outside of Shanghai, China, is building yarn manufacturing lines in the Carolinas, bringing more than 500 jobs, due to low costs for energy, land, and cotton. The Carolinas at one time had been huge textile centers. Springs Mills in Lancaster once employed close to 20,000 people before the last textile factory closed in South Carolina in 2007. Lancaster County lost 11,000 textile jobs from 1995 to 2007. The greater Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill region lost about 26,000 jobs at textile mills in the past 20 years.[iii]
But low energy prices and American ingenuity have brought manufacturing back to this country. However, all this is likely to change as President Obama’s regulations go into effect, making electricity and natural gas prices escalate, forcing companies to accept higher domestic operating costs or move offshore.
In the longer term, advanced manufacturing techniques will likely alter the economics of production, making it far less labor-intensive. Robots, for example, are already making a difference lowering the share of labor in total costs. Cheaper, more user-friendly and more dexterous robots are currently spreading into factories around the world, but these machines need energy to fuel them. And if President Obama implements regulations to raise energy costs, manufacturers will need to seek lower energy prices elsewhere, which will decrease the number of jobs in this country.
EPA’s Clean Power Plan
Early in August, EPA announced its final rule for the so-called Clean Power Plan, which reduces 32 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the generating sector by 2030 from 2005 levels. This and other rules affecting the generating sector that have been finalized will shutter 90 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity and other fossil fuel technologies, and direct the construction of wind and solar units instead, despite the fact that it is cheaper to keep existing generating plants operating rather than building new plants. As a result, EIA expects residential electricity prices to be 16 percent higher in 2030 than they are today.
The use of low cost natural gas in the generation sector, displacing coal generation, has already reduced carbon dioxide emissions in the sector by 15 percent from 2005 levels. But, that is not a sufficient reduction for EPA. EPA wants the United States to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from the electric generating sector by 773 million metric tons, and according to the International Energy Agency, while at the same time, China is expected to increase its carbon dioxide emissions by over 12,000 million metric tons.[iv] The U.S. reduction is expected to only reduce temperatures by 0.019 degrees Centigrade in 2100—a miniscule amount.[v]
Also in August, the EPA finalized its methane rule, requiring oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, despite the fact that the industry has already significantly reduced methane emissions while substantially increasing production.
According to EPA data, methane emissions from natural gas development have fallen steadily since 2005. (See red line in chart below.). The blue bars in the chart indicate natural gas production, which is rising steadily – even as less and less methane is being emitted from that production. The chart shows that net methane emissions from natural gas production fell 38 percent from 2005 to 2013 – even as natural gas production increased dramatically. Further, methane from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells fell 79 percent from 2005 to 2013.
EPA’s Ozone Rule
EPA has finalized the so-called “Clean Power Plan” and the methane rule, but other regulations are still in the works. The proposed ozone rule, for example, is expected to be the most costly regulation costing the economy $1.7 trillion in lost GDP through 2040. [vi]
The National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone is an outdoor air regulation established by EPA under the Clean Air Act. Ozone is a naturally occurring gas composed of oxygen molecules. Ground-level ozone occurs both naturally and results from chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, which are emitted from industrial facilities, power plants, vehicle exhaust, and chemical solvents.
In March 2008, the EPA lowered the 8-hour primary NAAQS for ozone to its current level of 75 parts per billion. In November 2014, the EPA proposed lowering the ozone standard to a range between 65 to 70 parts per billion. By court order, EPA must finalize the standard by October 1, 2015.
These new ozone regulations proposed by EPA will cause hundreds of counties across the country to be in violation of air laws. Out of compliance on ozone means less development, fewer jobs and the potential for significant and long-term damage to the economy. What’s worse, the new proposed ozone rules are being considered while the previous ozone regulations from 2008 have not been entirely implemented. States, counties and communities across the country are working to meet the current requirements, and a new stricter standard would result in more communities out of compliance.
According to a February 2015 economic study by the National Association of Manufacturers, a 65 parts per billion standard could reduce GDP by $140 billion, result in 1.4 million fewer jobs, and cost the average U.S. household $830 in lost consumption – each year from 2017 to 2040.[vii]
President Obama is making energy prices escalate due to stringent environmental regulations being promulgated by the EPA. Due to the timing of these regulations, most of the price increases will not be seen by the public until his second term is up. Nonetheless, the headway the United States made to bring manufacturing back to America is being threatened. The result will be a loss of jobs that we cannot afford.
[i] Atlantic, The EPA’s New Methane Rules for the Oil and Gas Industry, August 18, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/08/epa-methane-emissions-oil-gas-industry/401651/
[ii] The Economist, Coming home, January 19, 2013,http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21569570-growing-number-american-companies-are-moving-their-manufacturing-back-united
[iii] Charlotte Observer, Textile manufacturing returns to Carolinas—by way of China, August 8, 2014,http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/article9148256.html
[iv] Institute for Energy Research, http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/u-s-climate-deal-with-china-is-no-deal-at-all/
[vi] Chamber of Commerce, Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, June 29, 2015, https://www.uschamber.com/issue-brief/ozone-national-ambient-air-quality-standards
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Shutterstock.
“We the People,” those symbolic words mean that for the first time in world history, a government was set up to not only recognize the God given rights of you and I, but also operate according to that most worthy premise “We the People.” Unfortunately, the progressive political elitists have reversed the role and mission of the federal government. So now, it is a rogue anti unalienable rights regime that only looks out for illegal immigrants, American born thugs, and anyone who is on a mission to destroy our exceptional nation way of life.
The federal government is most certainly rouge and is now a clear and present danger to the very continuation of our republic turned mob ruled democracy. Not only is the federal government, but increasingly, state and local government are working diligently to obstruct the ability of sovereign citizens to live free from tyranny and to be the best that God would have them to be.
Often through government over regulations and draconian taxes people are obstructed from freely opening and running a family business. Abusive government regulations are now so a stringent, they are literally choking the life out of what was at one time the most vibrant economy the world had ever known.
The latest round of proposed Environmental Protection Agency laws would at the very least increase household and small business energy bills 30 to 50 percent. Why? Because President Obama and others hate American greatness and power. They are working overtime to use any method they can to destroy the United States. Or at the very least, have her severely weakened and under the influence of islam by the time Obama leaves office.
The Obama administration is nothing more than a lightning rod of calculated destructive measures. Some of which have practically destroyed a decent quality of life for not only black Americans, but increasingly for more and more Americans of all backgrounds. The sad truth is, that some Americans are now too dumb to even understand just how screwed over they really are.
After five decades of indoctrination rom their liberal masters and a steady decrease in their standard of living, many psyched out black Americans are more enamored with running around carrying black lives matter signs, than building a good quality of life with their families and fellow Americans.
They are foolishly self-centered in their so-called progressive struggle, that they have the nerve to be upset because a presidential candidate and fellow progressive socialist stated that “all lives matter.” To add insult to their stupid injury, the black socialist progressives even consider the “all lives matter” statement to be hate speech or a violent statement. One has to wonder, what society can continue to remain great and economically prominent when millions of it’s brainwashed citizens are so bitter? Then add in their low quality of cognitive functioning and increasing their numbers through breeding, what is occurring is a massive negative drain on our nation making us vulnerable to external enemies and economic collapse.
Unfortunately, far too many Americans have devolved into what the Bible refers to as those who would prefer to believe lies over the truth. That is a direct result of at least five decades of unrelenting indoctrination of generations of American students against all that is good and morally correct.
There was a time if an individual chose to believe that he or she was entitled to someone else’s property and chose to rob them, I the were shot or beaten, that was considered just and no big deal. But now, certain people are so off kilter morally, that brute force against an aggressive burglar is considered more horrendous than aborting innocent babies.
By the way, the black lives matter folks, President Obama and thugs can celebrate because local police forces have been prevented from going hard after thugs who choose to commit crimes against their fellow citizens. So now, crime has dramatically increased in every city where there are substantial black populations.
In Chicago, over the past year murder of blacks by blacks is up 10 percent and rape has increased seven percent. In Las Angeles, violent crime is up 20 percent year after year. In Cleveland, the city is going through a tremendous revival downtown and in many neighborhoods that are not populated by mostly black Americans. But in the city’s notorious east side, (with the exception of University Circle and Little Italy) is a black dominated war zone where they are seemingly bumping each other off for the sport of it.
Such developments or devolutions are the direct result of a wholesale rejection of morality and the Biblical principles that were the foundational building blocks of all that was great about this nation. The continued dangerous practice of repudiating that which is good is literally destroying our republic.
Only through the rejection of that which is evil and learning about and accepting the good, will America have even a chance of once again becoming that shining city on a hill nation.
The choice is completely up to “We the People” not the political elites.
Now more than ever, every time it rains, one Indiana farmer fears his land will be declared a federally-regulated body of water:
After a recent rainfall, Charlie Houin looked out over one of his cornfields in Marshall County as a clear stream of water flowed beneath him. With the summer’s high rain levels flooding fields, drainage systems and the streams that carry excess water away are crucial for farmers to maintain healthy crops.
But Houin, and farmers across the country, are now in a fight for control over these small waterways — battling a new rule in the Clean Water Act opponents say will be overly burdensome and costly to the agriculture industry.
[ … ]
Houin said he not only sees this as one of the EPA’s biggest land grabs in history, but he’s worried the permit process is going to be crippling when he needs to repair ditches, waterways and drainage systems for his farm. When you have only one chance a year at the planting season, he said, having farmland and waterways tied up in an approval process will be costly.
Worry about federal overreach isn’t limited to farmers and ranchers. Many other businesses also oppose the agencies’ regulatory overreach.
This has driven business groups to take EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to federal court.
The U.S. Chamber, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Portland Cement Association, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, and the State Chamber of Oklahoma filed suit to stop the new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) which dramatically expands the definition of federally-regulated “navigable waters” covered by the Clean Water Act.
They make the case that the water rule gives the federal government unprecedented and unconstitutional regulatory authority over nearly every body of water in the United States and undercuts state and local government sovereignty.
Here’s a breakdown of their argument.
The plaintiff’s argue that the new waters definition goes beyond its authority under the Constitution and the Clean Water Act, because it “confers jurisdiction to the Agencies over waters that are not ‘navigable waters.'”
Under the Clean Water Act the federal government has jurisdiction over only “navigable waters.”
Initially that was defined as bodies of water where interstate transportation or commerce could take place. However, over the decades, the regulatory creep set in and that definition broadened from lakes and rivers bordering states (literally interstate waters) to include tributaries and wetlands that abut regulated water bodies. WOTUS is the latest expansion.
Through the water rule, “thousands of miles of intrastate waters that have no substantial effect on interstate commerce” are now under federal regulation, the plaintiffs note. This includes wetlands, streams, ditches, ponds, and bodies that only occasionally hold water.
This broad federal jurisdiction is what has farmers, ranchers, home developers, other businesses upset.
To understand the plaintiffs’ legal argument, you need to know about a 2006 Supreme Court case, Rapanos vs. United States. In it, the court established two tests for determining if a body of water falls under federal jurisdiction.
The first is “continuous surface connection.” In his plurality decision, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the Clean Water Act requires that a body of water have a “continuous surface connection” to another federally-regulated body for federal regulators to have jurisdiction.
The second is “significant nexus,” found in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s concurring opinion. In order to be considered a navigable water, a body of water must “significantly affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of “waters that are or were navigable in fact or that could reasonably be so made.”
The water rule fails both tests, the plaintiffs explain:
[C]ountless waters, wetlands, and normally dry lands will be classified as ‘waters of the United States’ despite their complete detachment–both on a surface level and on a chemical, physical, and biological level–to any navigable water.
One example of how EPA fails to meet these tests is by employing something I call the “Matrix Defense.” EPA claims it can determine a federally-regulated tributary to a body of water simply with the use of computer “desktop tools that provide for the hydrologic estimation of a discharge sufficient to create an ordinary high water mark.” Virtual reality trumps physical reality, as the filing explains:
“In other words, if a computer model suggests that a feature has enough flow to create a bed and bank and ordinary high water mark, the Agencies can determine that that feature is a ‘tributary,’ even if the physical indicators have not been observed in the field.”
Neo could stop bullets, but he didn’t have that this kind of power.
Unfortunately for EPA, this tactic doesn’t satisfy either Justice Scalia’s continuous surface test or Justice Kennedy’s significant nexus test.
The water rule doesn’t just violate the Clean Water Act. The plaintiffs argue it also violates the 10th Amendment, which states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
State governments have the authority to regulate land and water in their states. The Clean Water Act affirms that states have “the primary responsibilities and rights … to plan the development and use … of land and water resources.”
However, with the water rule, the federal government claims regulatory authority over nearly every body of water in America. Waters, including ditches, canals, ponds, and wetlands, as far as 4,000 feet from a navigable water can be regulated by the federal government.
This violates the 10th Amendment. As the plaintiffs state:
The Supreme Court requires a ‘clear and manifest’ statement from Congress to authorize [such] an unprecedented intrusion into traditional state authority.
State and local government sovereignty gets squeezed as the federal government expands its reach.
Not only does the water rule conflict with the Constitution and the Clean Water Act, regulators didn’t follow the proper rulemaking process.
The plaintiffs point out that EPA ignored the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) which requires federal agencies to analyze the effects of proposed regulations on small businesses, organizations, and governments.
EPA claims it didn’t have to do this because the water rule “will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities,” and it “will not affect small entities to a greater extent than the existing regulations.”
[T]he Clean Water Act and the revised definition proposed in this rule directly determine permitting requirements and other obligations. It is unquestionable that small businesses will continue to seek permits under the Clean Water Act. Therefore they will be subject to the application of the proposed definition and the impacts arising from its application.
The “fundamentally flawed” rulemaking process drove SBA to ask EPA to “withdraw the rule and that the EPA conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review panel before proceeding any further with this rulemaking.”
EPA ignored the SBA along with similar comments from the U.S. Chamber and other business groups and went ahead with finalizing the new definition.
Finally, the water rule is too vague. If people can’t understand the regulation, how are they supposed to behave lawfully? The water rule “fails to provide fair notice of what conduct is prohibited by the civil and criminal provision of the Clean Water Act and grants overly broad enforcement discretion to” federal regulators, writes the plaintiffs.
To see how this applies in the real world, let’s go back to Charlie Houin’s story:
The water rule states that a “tributary must show physical features of flowing water — a bed, bank and ordinary high water mark — to warrant protection,” as well as connecting to a larger body of water.
Discussing the rules with The Tribune, Houin stood near one of his small waterways that, he said, he has always thought of as a ditch and has never had regulatory issues with. But based on the EPA’s definition, Houin’s small “ditch” could be considered as a tributary because it has continually flowing water that empties into the nearby Yellow River.
This is a major problem, [Justin Schneider, senior policy adviser for the Indiana Farm Bureau] said, because no matter what a farmer may think a waterway is, it comes down to the EPA’s interpretation. A farmer could be in violation and not realize it, he said, calling it “an issue with potential for big repercussions.” Beyond having to obtain expensive federal permits, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office said farmers could face civil penalties up to $37,500 a day for violating the new rule.
Citizens “cannot reasonably determine based on the face of the relevant statutes and regulations what is required of them,” plaintiffs state.
Let’s step beyond how the water rule violates the Constitution and ignores federal law. It also will shower uncertainty over every property owner.
An economy can’t function effectively if people fear that taking some ordinary action like filling in a ditch will require costly permits or unleash the fury of federal regulators.
The easier path to take is to not invest in and improve one’s business. Don’t build an addition to a factory that could employ more people. Don’t build a housing development and increase the housing supply for families. Don’t touch that gully the rain cut in the corn field. Instead, let it go fallow.
That may satisfy a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., but it means frustration for Americans having to live under those rules.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a Holstein cow grazing by a pond in Lancaster, NH. Photo credit: Bloomberg.
Voters frequently support measures that sound noble and beneficial but end up causing serious mischief — and often hurt the very groups the measures were intended to help.
A well-known example is price controls, which include minimum wage laws and rent control. These can cause unemployment among low-skill workers and apartment shortages for those without connections.
But that’s not all. Not by a long shot.
Here are five more examples of unintended consequences.
1. “Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up”
The Endangered Species Act and other laws restrict how landowners can use their property if it is discovered that their actions may adversely affect vulnerable wildlife. Besides the injustice of violating property rights, this regulation produces perverse results.
Imagine a landowner in the Midwest who had plans to sell to an outside developer who wanted to build a shopping mall. One morning, a few days before closing the deal, the man is sipping coffee and looking off his back porch into the woods. He suddenly sees a woodpecker that he recognizes as a protected species. What will the man do, if he follows pecuniary incentives? Is he going to call up federal bureaucrats and tell them the good news?
No. The man will probably go get his gun and shovel and never speak of this incident to anyone.
2. Seat Belt Legislation Kills
In the typical debate over seat belt mandates — in which drivers can be heavily fined if caught driving without buckling up — advocates of liberty tend to stress individuals’ “right to be stupid” while others claim that public safety trumps absolute freedom. Ideology aside, do such laws make us safer?
Economist Sam Peltzman looked at the evidence after some states enacted seat belt legislation, while others did not. He found that drivers did buckle up more frequently because of the government penalties but that traffic fatalities were roughly unchanged.
True, the probability of dying in a car crash went down, if you were in a crash, because wearing a seat belt definitely helps you survive a typical accident. However, the states that passed the seat belt legislation saw anincrease in rates of traffic accidents. Because people felt safer, they drove just a little more recklessly. No individual driver wakes up and says, “I’m going to get in a fender bender today,” but with millions of people driving hours per day, 365 days per year, we will definitely see more accidents in the aggregate if people are even slightly more aggressive on the margin.
Peltzman found that total fatalities were about the same. The death rate for motorists crept down, but this was offset by a higher death rate among pedestrians and cyclists hit by cars. Some groups obviously did not benefit from the higher prevalence of seat belt usage.
3. Stricter Vehicle Fuel Economy Mandates Do Little for the Environment
The federal government imposes minimum corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards on certain vehicles. Some states wanted to “do more” for the environment, so they passed tighter mandates. In other words, states like California imposed higher mile-per-gallon requirements on cars sold in California than the federal government insisted on.
But the way the states structured their rules led to a significant “leakage.” If a car manufacturer increased the average fuel economy for its vehicles sold in California, for example, then those cars counted as part of its “fleet” in calculating the average fuel economy for its cars sold in the nation as a whole. The manufacturer could then get away with selling cars that had lower fuel economy in the states that did not supplement the federal rule, and they were still satisfying both state and national standards. Thus, the California rule as originally designed led to fewer emissions per vehicle-mile in California — but not nearly as much in the nation as a whole. Some economists estimated this “leakage” to be as high as 74 percent. The hodgepodge of standards simply raised the total costs of vehicles while doing little to reduce total US emissions.
4. Jane Jacobs Combats City Planning
Fans of Austrian economics should not be surprised to learn that Jane Jacobs, the champion of the American city, found several flaws with typical bureaucratic city planners. For example, zoning regulations broke up the spontaneous growth of cities into “residential” and “commercial” sections, spawning crime and other social ills.
Originally, apartments were interspersed with shops, so that the owners could always keep an eye on their businesses and on their children. This “natural surveillance” was destroyed with zoning and other regulations, not to mention the interstate highways that would rip neighborhoods apart and the austere “housing projects” that placed most adults far away from the street and thus unable to monitor and shoo away unsavory characters. Zoned neighborhoods became unsafe neighborhoods.
5. Three Strikes Mean You’re Out
In an understandable reaction to “liberal” judges who would give slaps on the wrist to repeat offenders, the 1990s saw a wave of automatic sentencing legislation to take away judges’ discretion. This included California’s famous 1994 “Three Strikes and You’re Out” rule (Proposition 184), where someone convicted of a third felony would get 25 years to life. Currently, 24 states have some form of “three strikes” legislation.
One problem with these rules is that many acts are felonies that most people would consider petty, such as bringing a smoke bomb to high school. In California, one man with two prior felony convictions was sentenced to 25 years to life for being with a friend who got caught selling $20 of cocaine to an undercover cop.
An unintended consequence of the “three strikes” rules is that someone with two prior felony convictions now has a serious incentive to evade arrest for a third. And in fact, empirical studies of Los Angeles data suggest that more police officers have been killed because of this effect.
Incentives matter. It’s not enough for voters to endorse legislation that has a nice title and promises to do something good. People need to think through the full consequences of a policy, because often it will lead to a cure worse than the disease.
Robert P. Murphy is senior economist with the Institute for Energy Research. He is author of Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action (Independent Institute, 2015).
“Crying Wolf: Exposing the Wolf Reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park” is an eye-opening exposé of the illegal introduction of non-native Gray Wolves to Yellowstone and beyond during the Clinton administration.
Film maker Jeff King grew up in the thick of the wolf controversy. This is the real true story from the people who lived it. The wolf on King’s film cover photo [right] was one caught less than a mile from the King family home when Jeff was a teenager.
The “Crying Wolf” exposé has been credited with helping to bring the ‘wolf versus mankind’ issue back to the political table in Montana.
EDITORS NOTE: Jeff King’s new film, Blue Beats Green is a critique of the Green Movement with a vision to replace it with a better alternative. You may support Jeff on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bluebeatsgreen, Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bluebeatsgreen and by purchasing Blue Beats Green on Amazon.com.