Blog PostOctober 2, 2013

EPA & Shutdown: What About Non-Essential Regulations?

Only 7% of EPA Employees considered "Essential" in Government Shutdown

Reuters reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may cull its workforce to less than seven percent in response to the federal government shutdown, representing “one of the biggest hits of any federal agency”. The EPA would reportedly classify as essential just 1,069 employees out of 16,205:

“Among those furloughed would be most workers at the Office of Air and Radiation, which is in charge of writing and implementing most of the EPA’s major air pollution rules. The clock would also stop, for now, on the EPA’s eagerly-awaited proposal on renewable fuel volume standards for 2014.”

And these workers will not even be allowed to work from home. While many of these regulatory bureaucrats have some time on their hands, they may want to consider which of the thousands of environmental regulations are “essential” instead.

Take, for instance the most expensive regulation enacted in 2012. According to the Heritage Foundation, it was “the EPA’s so-called Utility MACT rule for power plants” or new emission standards:

“Benefits were estimated at an eye-popping $33 billion to $90 billion. Not mentioned in the EPA’s press releases is the fact that virtually all of the asserted benefits—99.993 percent—stem from reductions in airborne “particulate matter” (PM),[24] a pollutant that is already subject to EPA regulations, which the EPA has said are sufficient to protect public health.” (emphasis added)

So, frightfully expensive and redundant, not to mention job-killers.

The Wall Street Journal estimates that every $1 billion spent complying with an EPA rule threatens 16,000 jobs. The United States lost 7,700 coal mining jobs just last year. Forbes predicts the new rules stemming from the Climate Action Plan will shutter 288 coal plants in 32 states.

And just how “essential” is a Climate Action Plan when cleaner coal technology has cut the “bad” emissions by 88 percent since 1970? Plus, the United States has 250 years worth of coal banked up. And how about the huge demand for our coal in energy-hungry countries like China and India? And there is a burgeoning natural gas industry in our own country.

The EPA is just one of the virtually autonomous and unaccountable government agencies that contribute to the $1.75 trillion cost of American regulations each year. Perhaps our nation would be better off if 93 percent of the regulations were furloughed, rather than the thousands of workers needed to enforce them.