Jun 05, 2015 - 11:30am

EPA is Dropping a Massive Regulatory Bomb on the Economy

Senior Editor, Digital Content


EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Photo credit: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg.

A new definition of "bodies of water" stretches federal authority over property beyond anything imagined by Congress.

Carbon regulations target an abundant fuel source—coal—and will force a reengineering of the U.S. power grid.

A new ozone standard so out of touch with reality that despite decreasing ozone levels, every major metropolitan area--even some national parks--won’t be compliant and will force them to restrict economic development.

Three massive, complex, and expensive regulations dropped like a regulatory bomb on the U.S. economy by one agency—EPA--all within a six-month time span.

William Kovacs, the U.S. Chamber's Senior Vice President for Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs, told the House Science Committee:

The result could be significantly adverse impacts on the country’s economy, the ability to create jobs in the U.S., and the ability of states to implement these new standards.

He went on to ask the most-important question: 

How did we get to the point at which a single federal agency of unelected officials is regulating not only environmental protections, but land use, economic development, and the country’s energy portfolio?

Here’s his answer in a nutshell:

Decades ago, Congress delegated broad authority to EPA. Federal courts have since given EPA “deference to agency decisions instead of acting as a check on regulatory powers.” At the same time, EPA has ignored Congressional requirements to evaluate regulatory effects on jobs and the economy, be transparent about the data is uses, and give small businesses and governments a voice in its rulemaking process. While EPA has run roughshod, Congress hasn’t reclaimed its constitutional lawmaking power back from the agency.

Just in the first 15 years of this century, the regulatory costs have been high. Kovacs told lawmakers that between 2000 and 2013 “17 out of 30 of the $1 billion or more per year rules issued by federal Executive Branch agencies were issued by the EPA.”

As noted above, EPA has three salvos to deliver on the economy:

  • The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule will force farmers, ranchers, and other businesses to get federal land use permits at a median cost of $155,000 a pop.
  • Carbon regulations, according to EPA's own estimates, will shut down 49 gigawatts of reliable coal-fired electricity generation and increase electricity costs.
  • The new ozone standard, according to a study from the National Association of Manufacturers, will lower U.S. GDP by $140 billion per year.

Getting EPA under control means fixing our broken regulatory process. Kovacs cited three bills Congress should pass.

1. The Regulatory Accountability Act

This bill will force EPA and other federal agencies to “do a better job of explaining the rationales for new rules and being more open and transparent when they write those rules.”

2. The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act

This bill will bring transparency to sue and settle lawsuits and give “affected parties an opportunity to intervene prior to the filing of the consent decree or settlement with a court.”

3. Secret Science Bill

This bill will force EPA to base its regulations on the best available science and make that data available for independent analysis—i.e. let the public engage in the scientific method.

Congress must take charge and fix our broken regulatory process. American jobs and the economy needs an air defense against these and future EPA regulatory bombardments.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.