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<H1 class="asset-name entry-title" id=page-title>Why We Must Replace the EPA</H1>By Steve Everley on January 27, 2011 3:14 PM NoEPA-thumb-300x300-2618.jpgOf all the government agencies that have become unnecessary barriers to job creation and economic growth, the Environmental Protection Agency is the worst offender.


Since its founding 40 years ago, the EPA has transformed from an agency with the original noble mission of protecting the environment into a job-killing, centralizing engine of ideological litigation and regulation that blocks economic progress. The EPA's current push to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and thereby the entire American economy, is the latest and definitive proof that the EPA has gone well beyond its original mandate.


Even worse, the EPA has become the bureaucracy of choice for Presidents and ideologues to exert more control over the decision making of the private sector and local and state governments, stifling the very innovation and entrepreneurship that is necessary to achieve a cleaner environment.


Here are but a few examples of how the EPA has become a job-killing agency:


Revoking Approved Permits: The EPA recently voided a previously-approved permit issued for the Spruce No. 1 coal mine in West Virginia, the first time in the Clean Water Act's forty-year history that an approved permit has been retracted by the EPA. This sets a dangerous precedent for all future operations, as the EPA's decision means all currently approved permits are now subject to agency review, which in turn means no company that has followed the rules and obtained the necessary approval can have any confidence or certainty about its operations. Such ambiguity is often referred to an "uncertainty tax," as it imposes costs on business operations similar to those arising from a tax.


Regulation of Carbon Dioxide: The Clean Air Act was written to address numerous air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which contribute to ozone pollution and acid rain. It was not intended to regulate carbon dioxide. The EPA's decision to regulate CO2 under the Act actually confirmed that fact: Under the EPA's plan, the Clean Air Act would have to be rewritten to delineate that carbon will be regulated at a different threshold than other air pollutants. Miraculously, the EPA has granted itself the power to rewrite its own statutory authority, a power that is constitutionally reserved only for Congress. If the Clean Air Act must be changed to justify the regulation of carbon, then it's clear that the law as written was never intended to cover carbon.


National Ambient Air Quality Standards: The EPA's own economic analysis (PDF) of NAAQS for nitrogen dioxide concluded that the costs of this regulation would dramatically outweigh the benefits. In fact, under virtually all possible scenarios the EPA found that the benefit (in dollars) would be zero. There is absolutely no justification for a regulation that imposes millions of dollars in costs and minimal-at-best environmental benefits.


Boiler MACT: In June 2010, the EPA proposed the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters. Also referred to as the "Boiler MACT" rule, this proposal sets limits on mercury, hydrogen chloride, and air pollutants. While reducing these emissions is necessary, the EPA's proposed rule is so stringent that virtually none of the covered entities will be able to comply with it. For example, the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), which represents several companies employing roughly 750,000 people, has noted that of their six best performing units, "none can comply with the standards" as set forth by EPA. If covered sources cannot meet the requirements, the result will be either perpetual and economy-wide noncompliance, or a complete shut down of industry. In fact, the regulation would be so costly that a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators (18 Democrats and 23 Republicans) wrote to the EPA in September 2010 asking for the EPA to scrap the boiler rule and start over.


Replace Not Reform


Some say the EPA should be reined in and reformed, but the agency's animus against the private sector runs deep within its operating culture. Efforts to change the way an inherently destructive agency does business will ultimately fail.


Since the EPA's first operating budget (fiscal year 1970), the agency's workforce has more than quadrupled, which coincides with the EPA now costing taxpayers more than ten times what it did forty years ago. At more than $10 billion, the EPA's annual budget exceeds the GDP of about 60 countries worldwide, and it has entrenched in the American psyche the notion that protecting the environment must come with high costs and a destructive culture of litigation. Such an agency cannot simply be reformed, as it has ingrained in itself for more than a generation the notion that environmental protection must coincide with bigger government and more litigation.


The EPA should be replaced with the Environmental Solutions Agency, which would incorporate the necessary statutory responsibilities of the old EPA while eliminating the job-killing regulatory abuses and power grabs of the old EPA. This would be achieved by bringing together science, technology, entrepreneurs, incentives, and local creativity to create a cleaner environment through smarter regulation.


Such an agency would create a stronger economy with more American jobs and more American energy, all while protecting human health and the environment. And at a time when Americans are demanding smaller government, the time to replace the EPA with a leaner, more efficient agency has never been better.


Replacement Has a Strong Track Record


Replacing federal agencies has been done many times before, and the history of the federal government confirms that agencies and offices are routinely replaced as they outline their original missions: The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was replaced by the CIA in 1947. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission replaced the Atomic Energy Commission in 1974. The Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002 to replace several agencies. Replacing the EPA with a new and improved Environmental Solutions Agency would thus be rooted in decades of comparable federal government reorganizations.


Additionally, there is strong evidence that cultural change can lead to dramatically improved results. Take, for example, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani's decision to change New York City's welfare offices into "Job Centers." In his book Leadership, Giuliani describes how New York City was "being destroyed by the preaching of entitlement," a cultural institution that "locked people into poverty." Instead of continuing to dole out entitlements to people who were out of work, Mayor Giuliani overhauled the fundamental culture and focused on the solution: getting people back to work. That kind of transformation would not have been possible had the mayor simply reformed how public assistance was distributed; it required a cultural shift to make people think about what will actually fix the problem. Giuliani's efforts led to a dramatic decline in welfare caseloads, and increased the number of people working to get off of public assistance.


This is why a fundamental cultural shift is also needed in the way the federal government approaches environmental protection. The EPA's model is based on the idea that environmental problems can only be solved by adding more regulations and more bureaucrats, the product of forty years of internal standards and procedures that are simply unfit to deal with 21st century problems. The emphasis is not on solutions, but rather creating new ways to clamp down on economic growth. Like Giuliani's decision to change attitudes about welfare, it's time for the federal government to change its attitude about the best way to protect the environment without destroying jobs.


Better Environmental Results at Lower Cost with More Jobs


By emphasizing a culture of economic growth, innovation, and technology, the Environmental Solutions Agency can achieve the same goals - clean air, clean water, improved public health - for much less cost to taxpayers through regulatory reform and smarter regulatory approaches. It also will minimize frivolous litigation that, while cast in the guise of environmental protection, is actually used by the EPA and so-called environmentalists to stifle economic progress for all Americans.


In fact, 79% of Americans believe we can solve our environmental problems faster and cheaper with innovation and new technology instead of relying on more litigation, more regulation, and more government red tape. An overwhelming majority also believes entrepreneurs are more likely to solve energy and environmental problems than government bureaucrats, and nearly 70% believe we don't need to impose costly taxes if we incentivize technology and innovation. All of these are completely inconsistent with the current EPA's model for addressing the environment and public health, and no amount of simple reforms will change that.


It's time to get serious about permanently reducing the size of government, and it's time to get serious about promoting a healthy economy along with a healthy environment. It's time to replace the EPA.

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I think the EPA gotta go! I am sick and tired of hearing about glodel warming and other stupid stuff. Weather happens and its going to happen no matter how much recycling they do. They force people to buy this CFL "which has toxic mercury in it and if you break it then it could kill you. I don't want to buy things that can kill me.

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