In January 2011 President Obama – stung by an electoral rebuke that cost his party control of the House of Representatives – issued an executive order attempting to reassure the public regarding his rapidly expanding regulatory state.
Obama’s order instructed federal agencies to “identify and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends.” It also instructed them to “propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs.”
Months later, though, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 180-page Utility MACT rule – one of the costliest regulations in American history.
Intended to impose maximum achievable control technology (MACT) over hazardous air pollutants, the rule -- part of a broader war on cheap energy -- stemmed from a 2000 EPA determination that it was “appropriate and necessary” for the agency to regulate mercury emissions from power plants under the 1990 Clean Air Act.
How did the EPA reach this determination? By projecting a rise in mercury emissions from 46 to 60 tons per year by 2010 (even though emissions actually declined to 29 tons over that time period).
Nonetheless, based on this false data (and fuzzy science regarding prenatal mercury exposure) the EPA promulgated the Utility MACT rule in early 2012 despite identifying health benefits of only $500,000 to $6 million annually – at an estimated cost of nearly $11 billion per year. Industry experts place the compliance costs much higher – at $84 billion over four years.
That’s not the truly frightening component of this rule, though. Like Obama's socialized medicine bureaucracy, his “envirocrats” are making it up as they go along.
“We may determine it is necessary to regulate under (the Clean Air Act) even if we are uncertain whether the rule will address the identified hazards,” the rule states, adding “we believe it is reasonable to err on the side of regulation of such highly toxic pollutants in the face of uncertainty.”
This, in a nutshell, is the modus operandi of Obama’s regulatory state: Erring on the side of government intrusion no matter what the outcome.
The forces driving these policies are no big secret.
Recently emails obtained by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) revealed senior EPA officials had been meeting with leaders of the radical environmental lobby in an effort to kill the Keystone XL pipeline – an energy project which boasts broad bipartisan support in Congress.
“These damning emails make it clear that the Obama administration has been actively trying to stop this important project for years,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) said.
Previous FOIAs submitted by this organization uncovered similarly cozy conspiracies with far left environmentalists to shut down coal-fired plants – including one involving a high-ranking EPA administrator who used his personal email address to secretly plot coal’s demise.
Another bombshell that dropped recently was the testimony of former EPA official John Beale, who testified before Congress regarding meetings he had in 2009 with EPA director Gina McCarthy (then head of the agency’s air and radiation division).
The subject of Beale and McCarthy’s “deep discussions?” Ways the government could “modify the DNA of the capitalist system” to make its regulations reach even deeper into the American economy.
Now we have arrived at the heart of the matter, haven’t we? This isn’t about the environment. It isn’t about protecting our natural resources, preserving pristine lands, safeguarding endangered species or keeping Americans’ safe and healthy.
This is about money and power.
With NASA data confirming that the “pause” in global warming continued through 2013, it is time to call out this enviro-bureaucratic conspiracy for what it is: The most elaborate, expensive, egregious government-subsidized hoax in human history – a massive conspiracy aimed at redistributing wealth from the industrial world to the third world and expanding dependency (and government power) here at home.
At the leading edge of this conspiracy – working in lockstep with the enviro-radicals – is Obama’s EPA, which has become a clear and present danger to American free enterprise, energy independence, the rule of law and U.S. sovereignty. Any U.S. lawmaker who is serious about creating new jobs, lowering energy costs and preserving our constitutional form of government must make gutting this rogue bureaucracy their top priority.
It is time to de-fang the EPA -- and lawmakers can take a critical first step in that direction by defunding enforcement budgets for job-crippling edicts like the Utility MACT rule and other radical Obama-era regulations.
Bill Wilson is a board member of Americans for Limited Government.