Those ‘devastating’ EPA reductions

Budget and personnel cuts reflect environmental progress and essential regulatory reforms

The Trump White House wants significant reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency: two dozen or more programs, including a dozen dealing with President Obama’s climate initiatives; a 20% downsizing in EPA’s 15,000-person workforce; and a one-fourth reduction in its $8.1 billion budget.

The plan requires congressional approval, and thus is hardly a “done deal.” Not surprisingly, it is generating howls of outrage.  Former U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the proposal would be “crippling,” and “devastating for the agency’s ability to protect public health.”

One employee resigned because the cuts would prevent him from serving “environmental justice” and “vulnerable communities.” A congressman claimed the EPA is “already operating at 1989 staffing levels,” and the reductions could mean “cutting the meat and muscle with the fat.”

A deep breath and objective assessment are in order.

1) Since the EPA was created in December 1970, America’s environmental progress has been amazing. Our cars now emit less than 2% of the pollutants that came out of tailpipes 47 years ago. Coal-fired power plant particulate, mercury, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide emissions are 10% to 20 % of their 1970 levels. The white plumes above factory and power plant “smoke stacks” are 90% steam (water vapor) and plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide (which Obama EPA officials disingenuously called “carbon pollution”).

Our lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal areas are infinitely cleaner and far safer to drink from or swim in. The notorious lead contamination in Flint, Michigan, water occurred under Gina McCarthy’s watch, because her agency didn’t do its job. It was her EPA officials who also triggered the infamous Gold King Mine blowout that contaminated hundreds of miles of river water with arsenic and other toxic metals.

So much for “protecting public health,” ensuring “environmental justice,” and safeguarding our most “vulnerable communities.” It’s as if we’ve come full circle, and now need to be protected from the EPA. In truth, that goes all the way back to the agency’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, who ignored his own scientists, banned DDT, and sentenced tens of millions of Africans and Asians to death from malaria.

2) The EPA became bloated, incompetent, and derelict in its fundamental duties largely because it became ideological, politicized, and determined to control what it was never intended to regulate. Through mission creep, sue-and-settle lawsuits, and an 8-year quest to help “fundamentally transform” America’s energy and economic system, it attempted to regulate every rivulet, puddle, and other “Waters of the U.S.,” stuck its nose in numerous local affairs – like the road to a nickel mine in Michigan – and colluded with environmentalists to block Alaska’s Pebble Mine before a permit application had even been submitted.

Most egregious was the agency’s use of alleged “dangerous manmade climate change” to justify its “war on coal,” its Clean Power Plan, and its determination to slash fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions by regulating every factory, farm, hospital, mall, drilling project, vehicle, and community in America.

The EPA’s other chief climate crusade target was methane, which it called “an extremely powerful climate pollutant” and absurdly claimed is responsible for “a fourth of all global warming to date.” Methane is a tiny 0.00017% of Earth’s atmosphere – the equivalent of $1.70 out of $1 million (and compared to 0.04% for CO2) – and U.S. energy operations account for less than a tenth of all annual natural and manmade methane emissions. To control that, the EPA wanted industry to spend billions of dollars per year.

It also demanded that cars and light trucks get 54.5 mpg by 2025. To meet that standard, automakers would have to downsize and plasticize vehicles, making them less safe and causing thousands of serious injuries and deaths – a reality that the EPA ignored in its cost/benefit and environmental justice analysis.

When states, industries, or experts raised questions about the EPA’s “CO2 endangerment” decision, its biased and dishonest “social cost of carbon” analysis, or its use of “secret science” and highly suspect computer models to justify “climate chaos” claims – the agency railed about “intimidation” and “interference” with its mandate to “protect public health and welfare.” It’s time to take those questions seriously.

3) The EPA obviously has too many anti-energy, anti-development staff, programs, and dollars looking for more activities to regulate and terminate, to justify their existence. As these programs are properly and necessarily cut back, EPA budgets and personnel should likewise be reduced.

http://Demonocracy.info

4) Complying with EPA and other government regulations inflicts staggering costs that reverberate throughout our economy, as businesses and families struggle to read, comprehend, and comply with them. The Competitive Enterprise Institute calculated that federal regulations alone cost $1.885 trillion per year – prior to the epic regulatory tsunami of 2016 – with the Obama era alone generating $800 billion to $890 billion in annual regulatory burdens, the American Action Forum estimated.

The EPA alone is responsible for well over $353 billion of the cumulative annual federal regulatory bill, CEI’s Wayne Crews estimated, based on 2012 data from the first four years of the Obama presidency. Just as disturbing, the total federal regulatory bill is equal to all individual and corporate tax payments combined.

Even more frightening, embedded in those federal regulations are fines and jail terms for some 5,000 federal crimes and 300,000 less serious criminal offenses. An absence of intent to violate the law, even failure to know and understand millions of pages of laws and regulations, even the mistaken assumption that no agency could possibly implement such an absurd rule, is no excuse. You’re still guilty as charged.

These regulatory burdens crush innovation, job creation, economic growth, and business and family well-being. They kill jobs, raise the cost of energy, food, products, and services, reduce living standards, harm health, and shorten lives. They violate any honest concept of “environmental justice.” Poor, minority, working class, and other vulnerable families are hardest hit.

5) In fact, environmental justice is little more than a meaningless, malleable, phony concoction whose primary purpose is promoting progressive programs. As they see it, whatever the EPA seeks to do advances justice and protects the vulnerable; whatever an industry does or wants is unjust — and whenever anyone criticizes an agency action, it reflects racism or callous disregard for public health.

Only the effects of government regulations, and the actions of government regulators, appear to be exempt from recrimination, intimidation and penalties imposed in the name of environmental justice.

6) Fully 98% of all counties in the United States voted for Donald Trump and his vision for a less regulated, more prosperous nation, with fewer diktats from a Washington, DC, that exempts itself from rules it inflicts on others. They did not vote for rolling back real environmental progress – and know full well that President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are doing no such thing.

They also know there is ample room – and abundant need – for the proposed EPA reductions. That’s why a CNN/ORC poll after Mr. Trump’s February 28 speech found that 70% of Americans who watched felt more optimistic about the nation’s future, and his policies and priorities were what the country needs now.

7) If President Trump’s program, budget, and personnel proposals for the EPA are approved, a number of agency employees will lose their jobs. That is always painful, as thousands of coal miners, power plant operators, and other employees in those and other communities impacted by heavy-handed EPA regulations can attest – and as the powerful new documentary film “Collateral Damage” demonstrates.

However, downsizing is often essential to the survival of a company – or a country. As President Obama was fond of saying, elections have consequences. Let’s hope Congress and the Trump Administration move forward on EPA restructuring, stand firmly in the face of the predictable forces of professional outrage, and do a good job explaining why these changes are absolutely essential.

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About the Author: Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for CFACT and author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

  • David Albert

    Does anyone know if the EPA has enforcement authority or are just stepping into it because no one has stopped them?

    http://www.mygovcost.org/2015/10/12/the-epa-armed-and-dangerous/

    This is one of dozens of sites found by Googling “EPA weapons and ammunition”
    I did read that some EPA employees in SWAT get-up showed up at an Alaskan mine a year or so ago.

    • This will give you some insight on how these bureaucrats in DC think.

      Apr 25, 2012 EPA Official: EPAs “philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of US energy producers

      In a Senate speech, Senator Inhofe will draw attention to a little known video from 2010, which shows a top EPA official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, using the vivid metaphor of crucifixion to explain EPA’s enforcement tactics for oil and gas producers.

      https://youtu.be/ze3GB_b7Nuo

  • This dovetails nicely with this article. Mar 15, 2017 Climate Models for the Layman with Dr. Judith Curry

    Dr. Judith Curry, climate scientist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, joins us once again today to discuss her comprehensive new report, “Climate Models for the layman.” We discuss the history and purpose of climate modeling, their uncertainties, equilibrium climate sensitivity, and what we can or cannot learn from their study.

    https://youtu.be/SBjFjSZjv6w

  • jameshrust

    Trump is making the right calls to eliminate waste in the Federal Government. This is shown by the rise in the stock market since his election November 8. $3 trillion increase in wealth.

  • trevormarr

    In 2017 AGW has been redefined to now stand for Al Gore’s Wrong!!! The climate scam is OVER! Rejoice! Stay Calm, emit on!!!!

  • John Hancock XIII

    While I agree with most of this article, the EPA is not in charge of Michigan’s environmental efforts. Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources took over that responsibility back in the early 1970’s by agreement with the EPA.

    Like many such problems, no one found it until someone looked for it. This is the case with ALL laboratory analyses. If you don’t specifically test for something, you don’t find it, and with the high cost of analysis, tests are not run unless a problem arises. (You wouldn’t pay for an X-ray of a part of you that had no problems, nor would you test sewage for dissolved platinum.) I suspect many older cities would find lead in their drinking water (dissolved from lead pipes), but they haven’t looked.

    On the other hand, EPA has always based their regulatory limits on a basis of what was detectable. The limits on most “contaminants” are always at the threshold of what they can find. If they can find it, ti isn’t legal. Limits on many substances are orders of magnitude tighter than they were 40 years ago simply because they can detect smaller concentrations now.

    The EPA apparently want distilled water in all puddles, creeks, lakes and streams while manufacturing plants and exhaust pipes emit pure “mountain-fresh” air.

  • addalled

    The part about how many counties Trump won is incorrect. That needs to be removed because it hurts the credibility of the article.

    • Immortal600

      You are correct. It looks like 2,623 to 489 which is 84%

  • MarcJ

    In support of my thesis that the environmentalism is a
    cult of death, let me provide you with some select sayings by our Eco-Nazis
    (thanks, Prof. Williams!):

    Alexander King, founder of the Malthusian Club of
    Rome, wrote in a 1990 biographical essay: “My own doubts came when DDT was
    introduced for civilian use. In Guyana, within two years, it had almost
    eliminated malaria, but at the same time the birth rate had doubled. So my
    chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the
    population problem.”

    Dr. Charles Wurster, former chief scientist for the
    Environmental Defense Fund, was once asked whether he thought a ban on DDT
    would result in the use of more dangerous chemicals and more malaria cases in
    Sri Lanka. He replied: “Probably. So what? People are the cause of all the
    problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and
    (malaria) is as good a way as any.”

    According to “Earthbound,” a collection of essays on
    environmental ethics, William Aiken said: “Massive human diebacks would be
    good. It is our duty to cause them. It is our species’ duty, relative to the
    whole, to eliminate 90 percent of our numbers.”

    Prince Philip—Duke of Edinburgh and patron of the
    World Wildlife Fund, said, “If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned
    to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels”.

    The late Jacques Cousteau told The UNESCO Courier: “One
    America burdens the earth much more than twenty Bangladeshis. This is a
    terrible thing to say. In order to stabilize world population, we must
    eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it’s just
    as bad not to say it.”

    Former National Park Service research biologist David
    Graber opined, “Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as
    important as a wild and healthy planet. … We have become a plague upon
    ourselves and upon the Earth. … Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide
    to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”

  • Pooch15

    It needs to be made clear that we don’t wish employees of the EPA to lose their jobs because we are vindictive over them making so many other people lose their jobs. The employees of the EPA really are just people, just like the employees of O&G companies and coal mining companies and others who have been negatively affected by the overreach of the agency called the EPA. We want them to lose their jobs simply because our tax dollars don’t need to be paying those particular salaries. With the removal of those harmful and unnecessary regulations, other jobs will open up. Those and more jobs will then become available to those who are living on the wages of the tax payers; wages that should be staying in the pockets of the taxpayers instead of paying the salaries for positions required to harm and punish. Enough with the overreach of the EPA.

  • cuchulain

    Obama administration neglected priorities to focus on climate change, new EPA chief says
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/25/scott-pruit-epa-administrator-says-obama-neglected/

  • cuchulain

    It’s all some kind of sickness, like an autoimmune disease. The body attacks itself. It smells like it’s related to globalism. And it is.

    Well, the global commies have been dealt a blow, hopefully fatal in time. They’re just resting right now. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/036a9d22cb0fe88814ef76d67918643de6c560c607cc28768c83f0a17cc61f43.png

  • Elizabeth Davis

    it needs to be brought under control. They are not really law makers and have gotten away with to much for a long time. In the early 90″ I had a customer that lived in SC. He owned acreage on the ST Johns river. The EPA said he could do nothing with his property because they had declared it a wet lands. They found a few willow tree of a certain kind and that made it a wet lands. the gentleman told me he even tried to give it away to keep from paying taxes but no one wanted it because they could not use it for anything. 20+ acres and a home. What about peoples rights????

  • Marilyn Madd

    When the EPA people went in to the minors in Alaska with full body armor and guns I knew this country was in big trouble. Why do all these enforcement agencies need guns. I would think if they need help in enforcement they could call on the National Guard. Take away guns from the EPA and the IRS….

  • Crop Loss

    Lets be clear, unlike those who go to work for a coal company or some manufacturer, people who go to work for the EPA mostly have agendas they brought from liberal colleges, and because most government regulatory jobs are cushy non performance oriented ways to get by and eventually get a fat early retirement.