WASHINGTON, March 20, 2014 – Who is John Beale and why is he ruining your life? John Beale was a career employee in the Environmental Protection Agency. He was not qualified for the job he got. In fact, it is a bit of a mystery how he got the job. Beale defrauded the government, claiming to be an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency taking lengthy absences from his job in order to go to serve the CIA. Beale served thirty-two months in prison once he was found out.
An EPA spokeswoman is quoted by Fox News as saying “Beale went to great lengths to deceive and defraud the U.S. government over the span of more than a decade” But what Beale did at the EPA is far more damaging than the fraud he committed against the government in falsifying his resume. While an employee of the EPA, Beale created the EPA playbook, a guide to not only exaggerating the benefits of regulations versus their costs, it also created the insidious tactic of “sue and settle” or what is often called “friendly lawsuits.”
They work like this: An environmental group, often leaning pretty far left, sues the EPA over some agenda item they want. Instead of being truly antagonistic opponents, the EPA and these groups are in fact colluding. “Sue and settle agreements allow EPA to convert a state Regional Haze program into a major new set of federal mandates, with no recourse for those affected until it’s too late,” said Bill Kovacs, the Chamber’s senior vice president for Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs. “The report outlines the potentially disastrous effects of this regulatory tool being used by the EPA to disregard states sovereignty and take over what Congress clearly determined to be a state environmental responsibility. These federal haze requirements offer only high costs for states, utilities and consumers, with no benefit.” (US Chamber of Commerce)
Eventually they would settle the lawsuit with what is known as a “consent decree.” The “consent decree” is forever binding. And it is a scam. A scam against the American public.
The 2011 GAO Report shows that millions of dollars were awarded to environmental groups that sued the EPA with the majority of those awards going to just three groups:
- Earthjustice $4,644,425
- The Sierra Club $966,687
- Natural Resources Defense Council $252,004
Forbes.com writer Larry Bell characterizes that “Most of this was paid to environmental attorneys in connection to lawsuits filed under the Clean Air Act, followed next by the Clean Water Act.” Bell also reports that the DOJ ran up bills in excess of “$43 million defending the EPA in court between 1998 and 2010,” not including legal costs and/or attorney’s fees. Reviewing the GAO report, just one of many legal groups, Earthjustice, received attorney fees in amounts of:
- $ 11,019.57 in Sierra Club v. EPA
- $198,700.00 in Resources Defense Council v. EPA
- $198,997.00 in Florida Wildlife Federation v. EPA
- $209,867.00 in American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA
- $ 65,587.00 in Environmental Integrity Project v. EPA
- $163,500.00 in Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA
Which are just a few of dozens of legal fees paid, many five to six figures, to Earthjustice from 2005 through 2010 for actions in regard to the Clean Air Act.
The GAO report also outlines eight state studies that have created ongoing and oppressive consent decrees that the stated must continue to pay to rogue environmental groups.
In the Chamber of Commerce document “EPA’s New Regulatory Front: Regional Haze and the Takeover of State Programs, one such decree, the EPA Regional Haze regulations requires states implement programs to meet “The “national goal” of EPA’s Regional Haze program, as defined by the statute, is the “remedying of any existing, impairment of visibility” at 156 federal National Parks and Wilderness Areas known as Class I Areas” The document explains that the State of North Dakota learned of new “regional haze” regulations after their implementation:
“…the implementation of North Dakota’s regional haze plan was the subject of a lawsuit brought in Oakland. Neither EPA, nor the environmental groups, nor the court provided North Dakota with notice of the lawsuit or the settlement. It was only after the settlement was announced that the state had a chance to provide input. Worst of all, the new requirements that EPA was insisting on, which came out of this mysterious settlement, were threatening to make power generation in North Dakota so expensive that several power and cement plants were in danger of shutting down. (Chamber of Commerce (“EPA’s New Regulatory Front: Regional Haze and the Takeover of State Programs )
The reported costs to states impacted by the Regional Haze regulations, of which the states had no stakeholder input into, include:
- Arizona: EPA’s Regional Haze regulation threatens to increase the cost of water [and] would force the state to spend an additional $90.2 million per year to implement the federal regulation.
- Montana: EPA’s proposed Regional Haze controls are almost 250% more expensive than what the agency’s standing rules presume to be “cost effective” for Regional Haze compliance.
- In 2011, the EPA disregarded New Mexico’s submitted Regional Haze plan and imposed a federal plan that requires nearly $840 million more in capital costs. According to the operators of the San Juan Generating Station, EPA’s plan would raise utility bills for each household in New Mexico by $120 annually.
- Although North Dakota is one of only 12 states that achieves all of EPA’s air quality standards for public health, it would not be able to achieve EPA’s Regional Haze goals for visibility improvement even if all industry in the state shut down. In addition, EPA’s proposed plan would cost North Dakota nearly $13 million per year.
- Refusing to approve Oklahoma’s Regional Haze plan, the EPA’s plan would cost the state $282 million per year.
- In Wyoming, the EPA proposed a federal implementation plan that would cost almost $96 million more per year than the state’s plan.
- Minnesota is subject to back-to-back Regional Haze regulations, where EPA is claiming authority to regulate regional haze twice in succession at the Sherburne County Generating Plant.
- EPA’s proposed plan would cost Nebraska almost $24 million per year to achieve “benefits” that are invisible.
Beale’s EPA playbook gets around the fact that Government agencies, like the EPA, do not have the inherent power to regulate. Congress gives that to them. With every major piece of agency legislation that passes, included is something that is known as “enabling language.” That language authorizes the Secretary of that department to promulgate regulations to achieve the goals of the legislation.
Obamacare is a class example of regulatory legislation. While the bill itself ran 906 pages, there are now over 20,000 pages of regulations. The legislation that created the EPA along with other laws, such as the Clean Air Act, also gives the EPA the power to create regulations.
That is the problem.
When governments change in the United States, administrators change. Policies also change and regulations sometimes change. The problem with consent decrees is that it is almost impossible to change those. In short, a succeeding administration is bound by the consent decree whether it likes the policy or not. Beale is least partially responsible for regulations that haunt Americans to this day.
And this is one of the greatest problems to face Congress today.
Senators David Vitter (R-La), ranking member Senate Committee on Environment and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala), ranking member on the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air & Public Works & Nuclear Safety wrote EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarty (April 2013) questioning:
First, this is the latest in a series of rulemakings initiated by this Administration in response to so-called “sue and settle” agreements with special interest groups. In November 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Sierra Club negotiated a settlement whereby EPA unilaterally agreed to respond to a petition filed by Sierra Club seeking the elimination of a longstanding Clean Air Act (CAA) exemption for excess emissions during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction (“SSM”).
The EPA went out of its way further to deny the participation of the States, and other affected parties. Oddly, it appears that, instead of defending EPA’s own regulations and the SSM provisions in the EPA-approved air programs of 39 states, EPA simply agreed to include an obligation to respond to the petition in the settlement of an entirely separate lawsuit. In other words, EPA went out of its way to resolve the SSM petition in a coordinated settlement with the Sierra Club.
Our concerns with the Agency’s sue and settle tactics are well documented—these settlement agreements are often accomplished in a closed door fashion that contravenes the Executive Branch’s solemn obligation to defend the law, avoids transparency and accountability, excludes impacted parties, and often results in the federal government paying the legal bills of these special interest groups at taxpayer expense. The circumstances under which EPA has agreed to initiate this new rulemaking reaffirms a pattern and practice of circumventing transparency.
If these regulations are good for America, why are the clocked in deceit and oppressive costs. Why doesn’t Congress pass them as laws? Because Congress would not, so the Playbook gets around that pesky requirement.
America is being slowly strangled by a byzantine myriad of regulations, created by unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats. What is truly scary is that some of these regulations can result in felony convictions to Americans who are often unaware these regulations even exist. It looks increasingly likely that the Republicans will take control of the Senate after the midterm elections.
If they are serious about changing Washington and fighting big government, the fastest way to do that is to stop regulations. All Congress has to do is remove the ability of government agencies to create new regulations. Republican politicians talk about smaller government and taking power from Washington. This is their great opportunity to do something. One of the first orders of business in 2015 for the Republicans should be to take the regulation making power away from the Obama Regime.
If it needs to be a law, let Congress pass it. Otherwise lets vote in a strong Republican congress able to remove regulatory power from bureaucratic agencies.