Government Bytes


McConnell Keeps Heat on EPA Over Regulatory Abuses

by Brandon Greife / /

Fixing our unsustainable spending trajectory is priorityone, two, and three for conservatives in Congress. And for good reason. Likethe tornadoes that have plagued much of the Great Plains recently, a debtcrisis threatens to hit hard and fast; but has at least granted us enoughforewarning to seek shelter.

But while the debt winds continue to whip into a frenzy, wecan’t ignore another potential economic disaster – the Environmental ProtectionAgency’s (EPA’s) regulatory overreach. It may lack therhetorical punch of the debt limit debate, but Senate Minority Leader MitchMcConnell (R-KY) is working hard to ensure that the EPA’s backdoor energy tax and costly green energy agenda doesn’tfall out of the spotlight.

Last summer, Senate Democratsattempted to pass a massive new energy tax under the guise of a “market-based”method of curbing greenhouse gas emission. Fortunately, legislators saw the so-called "cap-and-trade" scheme for what it was - a massive tax hike - and the bill died in the Senate.

Despite the bill’s failure, President Obama warned, “Cap-and-tradewas just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way.” His ominous foreshadowing has proved to be true. The EPA has taken up where Senate Democrats left off, substituting their self-proclaimed prerogative to regulate greenhouse gases for the will of Congress, and the citizens who elected them.

In his speechon Wednesday to the Kentucky Coal Association, Leader McConnell described theimpact the EPA’s plan would have,

“Their national energy tax wouldhit you every time you start your car or turn on the light bulb. It wouldendanger millions of jobs across the country and hurt an already fragileeconomy. And it directly targets Kentucky’s coal industry, by making coal-firedpower more expensive.”

McConnell and others have attempted to pass legislation thatwould prevent the EPA from going around the legislative process. Many Democratshave also realized that Congress, not administrative bodies should be the onestaking action. In voting for a bill to temporarily block the EPA fromregulating greenhouse gases, Jim Webb (D-VA) has said, “I do not believethat Congress should cede its authority over an issue as important as climatechange to unelected officials of the Executive Branch.”

The rebuke hasn’t stopped the EPA from overstepping its bounds. Inhis speech,McConnell described a similar situation happening with coal,

“The EPA retroactively “reinterpreted” its regulations andwithdrew a Section 404 permit previously issued by the Army Corps of Engineersto a mine in southern West Virginia, shutting it down and throwing 90 minersout of work. Every mine in Kentucky is similarly threatened.

“The EPA declared even more permit applications to be underenhanced review, in effect playing a “run out the clock” game and putting manyKentucky mining operations in limbo, along with the economic activity miningcould create.

By changing the rules in the middle of the game, any senseof regulatory certainty has been thrown out the window, and all without a singlevote or hearing in Congress. In response, McConnell has proposed legislation thatwould set a 30 day timeline for the EPA to rule on a permit received from amine. The EPA’s authority to reject the permit based on health and environmentalconcerns would be left intact, but the veil of regulatory uncertainty wouldfinally be lifted.

Time and again, job creators and business owners have beenbegging Washington to remove the uncertainty that is preventing them frominvesting and hiring. While the debt limit negotiations are hogging thespotlight, it is good to see a high profile Senator like Mitch McConnell makingsure that no stone is left unturned in the search for ways to boost job growth.And one of those ways is reigning in an out of control EPA.