PASADENA, Calif., January 11, 2015 — The year is only 11 days old, but there has already been plenty of regulatory action in Washington. As of January 3, the federal government had already issued 151 new regulations, the majority related to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), one of the most aggressive and corrupt of all the government bureaucracies.
The EPA was extremely active in 2014, but was also hampered by controversy. The agency was embroiled in a shocking controversy when a report revealed that it had mismanaged taxpayer money by misusing credit cards and losing track of funds. An inspector general report accused the agency of issuing 10 years worth of paid leave to eight employees over the past three years. The reason for those payments is unknown, and the official EPA explanation was “serious misconduct” by the employees, but the agency has not cooperated with requests for more information.
These embarrassments come on the heels of a scandal involving a high level EPA official who received a 32-month prison sentence for lying about being a CIA agent in order to collect almost a million dollars in paid leave.
A report revealed last year that the EPA has been testing deadly pollutants on humans in order to further its own political agenda. According to the report, the government exposed sick and elderly subjects to harmful chemicals without disclosing life-threatening risks. This was done in order to show the negative side affects of pollution, but it turns out that EPA researchers were exposing the subjects to toxicity levels higher than they had disclosed.
The EPA found the time and resources to issue devastating regulations. In May, they issued a regulation limiting carbon emissions from coal plants; they claimed the rule would be sensibly implemented. However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims that the law will cost the economy $50 billion per year. This is expected to eliminate 250,000 jobs from the coal industry, which is already struggling.
In June, the EPA released 645 pages of new rules mandating that coal plants cut carbon emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels. The government has made implausible claims regarding the positive effects of these new laws. President Obama says that these regulations will help prevent another super-storm Sandy, as well as thousands of asthma attacks and heart attacks.
There is no way to prove these bold claims. The positive impact of the new regulations on global climate is itself dubious, with no evidence that it will be commensurate with the demonstrated costs.
Coal plants are shutting down all across the country at a time where the labor participation rate is at it’s lowest point in almost 40 years. These plants are located in some of the most impoverished areas in the country. In West Virginia, the number of active coal mining sites is decreasing by the month due to EPA regulations that are issued under the guise of protecting the environment. Twenty percent of West Virginians live below the poverty line, and the loss of coal jobs has further hurt a state that already ranks as one of the poorest in the union.
The decline in gas prices is almost entirely due to a fracking boom that has taken place on privately owned land. This infuriates environmentalists and EPA officials, who cling to the idea that fracking hurts the environment despite countless studies that prove the opposite. The government’s reaction to these low gas prices, which are a boon to the average American, has been to fight back with regulations.
Republicans have been frustrated about President Obama’s decision to skirt Congress and issue executive orders on important issues like illegal immigration and Obamacare. But administrative agencies like the EPA routinely legislate without Congressional input.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell penned a scathing article for Fox News, accusing the President of ignoring the wishes of the American people. “The sad truth is that the only thing America will lead in, if these rules go into effect, is the unilateral dismantling of our own economic supremacy and the self-imposed destruction of one of our nation’s main competitive advantages in the global economy.”
The numbers clearly support McConnell; the EPA is hurting the economy. Every coal plant that closes because of excessive regulations costs jobs. Thousands of them. The positive environmental effects of plant closings are unproved. The EPA is notorious for using reports from biased firms and outdated numbers to push its agenda, as when in January 2014 they issued a sloppy and misleading report that attempted to kill 30,000 jobs at an Alaskan copper plant.
The Democrats have hijacked the green energy conversation to the point that fossil fuels are the enemy no matter what. The President’s recent energy deal with China proves that his administration does not know what it’s doing about climate change. While the EPA steadily increases its regulatory power, countries like China have been given a free pass to pollute with no consequences.
The government has a vested financial interest in the success of green energy, as shown by its investments in companies like Solyndra. Fossil fuels, a critical piece of the American economy, are under attack. Booming local economies and job growth have been completely overlooked due to an irrational fear of harming the environment.
There is a battle raging between the government and the American worker, and the EPA is on the front lines providing the majority of the government’s fire power. 2015 will be a critical year in the struggle between overreaching federal regulations and the economy. Polls show that the people are concerned, and the newly elected Republican Congress has promised to do something about it. Time will tell if they have what it takes to stand up to the President and this emboldened corrupt government agency.