Op-EdAppeared in U.S. News & World Report on June 1, 2012By Steve Zelnak

Out-of-Control EPA Is Hurting the Economy

Steve Zelnak is a member of the Job Creators Alliance, a nonprofit committed to the defense of the free enterprise system. He is also the chairman of the Board of Directors and former CEO of Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., and chairman and majority owner of ZP Enterprises.

Our energy policy is one of the biggest impediments for businesses, and very little coming out of Washington makes sense.

We spend more than $350 billion on oil imports per year, or over half of our annual trade deficit. We have no cohesive energy policy, and what we have is not focused on U.S. self-sufficiency even though we have over 100 years of natural gas and coal reserves and rapidly increasing oil reserves.

Instead, the focus of the Environmental Protection Agency is to eliminate coal as a fuel by creating a set of air regulations that are driven much more by political ideology than by science. The coal mining industry in the United States employs 1.16 million people. In effect, the Environmental Protection Agency, known as the EPA, is intent on eliminating many of these high paying jobs with the mantra that they will be replaced by alternative energy jobs. The recent history of solar investments (and bankruptcies) by the federal government offers little comfort that such will be the case.

With the huge increase in natural gas and oil reserves through fracking and horizontal drilling, the EPA is intent on involving itself in what has been a state issue by making a bold, two-fisted grasp for regulatory power. The results of this, if allowed, are predictable. The agency will continue to try to eliminate fossil fuel use regardless of cost to the consumer and regardless of job destruction.

The EPA is intent on imposing its ideological and political will on the American public through coercion and intimidation–just consider the EPA regional administrator in Texas who was forced to resign, Al Armendariz, after he was caught saying the agency should crucify a few companies to keep the rest in line.

The EPA is not the fourth branch of government. Our executive, legislative, and judicial branches need to bring this out-of-control bureaucracy back into line to perform its basic mission of environmental protection as opposed to its self-appointed mission in concert with the large environmental nongovernmental organizations s to define and rule our everyday lives and livelihood.

We need a comprehensive energy policy that makes America energy independent, and that is based on market principles, not ideology.