On his first day in office, President Obama issued a memorandum to the leaders of all government Departments and Agencies. The memorandum stated: “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. . . . My Administration will take appropriate action . . . to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.” The promised Hope and Change were well underway!
In early 2015, the Republican led US House passed a bill requiring public disclosure of the “science” supporting the need for new EPA regulations. Have we finally found an issue both Republicans and the President can support?
Unfortunately, we have not. President Obama immediately threatened to veto the House bill. Environmentalists and Congressional Democrats immediately denounced the bill. Many media outlets portrayed the bill as a Republican attempt to tell the EPA what science it can use. That’s not the bill’s intent. We do, however, have wonder why they’re targeting the EPA. Are Republicans protecting profits for their rich industrial friends as we’ve grown to expect? Or is it possible they’re actually fighting to help lower consumer costs for the rest of us? Consider a few relevant facts.
Despite significant increases in the use of fossil fuel, overall emissions of the EPA’s “Criteria Pollutants” are 70% lower today than in 1970. EPA data shows that from 1970 to 2009, air quality improved every year. Despite this knowledge, new environmental regulations passed in 2009 through 2012, primarily targeting air pollution, nearly surpassed the entire history of EPA rulemaking. The pace hasn’t slowed since 2012.
According to the group, National Economic Research Associates, just seven of the new rules targeting air quality are projected to increase consumer costs some $30 billion over the next twenty years and destroy 800,000 jobs per year for several years. If air quality was steadily improving under the old rules, are we certain the new rules are necessary? Republicans are simply asking for the documents verifying the need. Given the high cost of these new regulations, is it wise to place our blind trust in politically appointed EPA bureaucrats?
We should also consider the following. In 2011, the EPA’s Science Advisory Board and the EPA’s Inspector General criticized the EPA’s endangerment finding regarding greenhouse gases. Those objections were never shared by the government and were ignored by EPA leaders. From early 2010 through 2012, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology sent six formal letters to EPA leaders and top White House officials requesting copies of the scientific data supporting the health and economic benefits tied to recently proposed EPA climate regulations. That Committee is still waiting. In 2012, former EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, resigned from the EPA soon after it was revealed she used a private email account to allegedly shield delicate environmental discussions from public scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). What is the EPA hiding?
Few government agencies have the power to increase consumer costs more directly than the EPA. Yet, we don’t have the opportunity to vote for EPA leaders. Therefore, when their regulations increase consumer costs, it’s effectively taxation without representation. As I recall, that was frowned upon by our Founding Fathers.
We all want to protect our health and the environment, but I’m baffled why anyone—especially a President dedicated to “an unprecedented level of openness in government”—would object to seeing the science justifying costly new regulations. Why are environmentalists, Democrats, and the President objecting to a bill that ensures transparency? What are they afraid we might learn?
—By Randall L Hughes: author of the book, “Popular Deceptions.”