THE EPA SAYS, “WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN”

Commentary by Harold Hough

Think that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is just focused on solar energy and electric cars? No way. The EPA is planning an aggressive environmental agenda for the next 3 ½ years of the Obama Administration. We only have to look at the proposed regulatory agenda they released just hours before everyone left for the Fourth of July weekend.

Obama has been reticent to talk about his economy breaking environmental agenda. Legally, the White House is required to release a unified regulatory agenda twice a year, in order to provide the American people with an advance and accurate picture of what will probably be costly and disruptive future regulations the government will be working to enact. Usually, the administration obliges with these road maps in April and then in October — but this is the Obama administration and they pretty much do what they want, when they want. After completely skipping the lawfully required spring regulatory agenda last year (in order to keep the voters in the dark), they finally did produce one agenda for 2012 — in December, the afternoon before everybody left town for Christmas.

Not wanting to change its pattern, they released their Spring 2013 report on the afternoon of July 3rd, as everyone was leaving town for the 4 day holiday weekend. And, anyone reading it can see why.

Of course, there were proposed regulations to regulate carbon emissions and existing power plants. But, that was just the tip of the iceberg. The EPA will be regulating everything from pollution runoff on military ships to landfill methane emissions. This September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to propose rules for greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, and next June will issue draft rules for existing facilities. Some of this borders on the ridiculous. The EPA wants to regulate the pollution discharges from military ships, including drainage from onboard photography labs, deck runoff from rain and seawater and foam used to fight fires onboard.

REGULATING THE RUNOFF FROM FIGHTING FIRES ONBOARD A NAVY SHIP! If we had regulations like at the battles of Midway or the Coral Sea, we would be speaking Japanese and wearing kimonos. Only the Obama Administration would be willing to let an aircraft carrier with 5,000 souls sink to save Charlie the Tuna.

That’s not all. Other rules planned to be proposed in coming months would regulate new refrigerants used in automobile air conditioners, update 29-year-old standards for grain elevators, and renew an effort to change disposals of pharmaceuticals that are considered hazardous waste.

Just as big a problem is the Obama Administration’s attempt to circumvent the law and regulate under the radar. Not only are these reports not forthcoming (only one instead of two in 2012), they are habitually late and released on the afternoons before holidays in order to hide much of their impact. It also limits the feedback that industry and consumers can make before the regulations are promulgated.

If there is one silver lining to this, it is the inability of the EPA bureaucracy to publish its rules on schedule. The EPA has long delayed regulations on the ash from coal power plants. Since 2007, the EPA has been working to regulate the waste, but so far has failed to issue much beyond a 2010 proposal. This report shows no real progress in the EPA's issuance of the rule and does not list a date for the rule's expected finalization. There should be a public notice in August, but the content is unknown and given the EPA’s work habits, they will probably be late. So much for Obama’s statement that the administration has an, “aggressive management agenda that delivers a smarter, more innovative and more accountable government for its citizens.”

It would be nice to think that these regulations will never see the light of day. However, rest assured that they will be in place by January 20, 2017, Obama’s last day in office.

This brings us to the 2014 elections, which are only a year away. Pro-business candidates are needed to help the Republicans retain the House and win the Senate. Only in that manner can America stop a raft of anti-business regulations from taking effect and hurting an already fragile economy.