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EPA Regulations will Hurt Consumers and Strangle Recovery

January 13, 2010
By Pete Sepp

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
United States Senate
709 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Murkowski:

We have recently learned of your efforts to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from exercising its self-proclaimed authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. On behalf of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, I write to commend you for taking this action to protect American businesses and consumers from a substantial “regulatory tax hike.”

Many of the thousands of comments that have been submitted to the EPA related to this issue reflect a common concern – burdensome and unnecessary new regulatory costs. While such a concern is quite valid, we would contend that the situation has transcended the often dry and arcane realm of administrative rulemaking. When regulatory fees become so pervasive and widespread that virtually every business and consumer is subject to their reach, those fees should rightly be described as taxes. EPA’s “command and control” approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions has plainly met this definition.

The cost of this tax hike would be significant. In fact, EPA’s own cost estimates demonstrate that permitting costs for industrial facilities impacted by the original endangerment finding would amount to $46,000 per facility. Additionally, the EPA put the average cost to obtain a permit for a new commercial or multi-family residential facility at $5,000 per entity.

The EPA has attempted to shield smaller sources of emissions from the reach of this scheme through its recently proposed Tailoring Rule. However, all businesses and consumers will pay a portion of the sizable, immediate burden this rule will place on large emitters, as they pass along increased costs in the price of their products. And the legally tenuous nature of the entire process means it is quite possible that more than 6 million small industrial facilities, apartments, and even schools could ultimately be subject to this costly regulatory tax hike.

As you know, there is a long history of special interests manipulating the judicial and administrative law systems to advance their own self-serving agendas. This is the case with the Tailoring Rule as well. As written, it is nothing more than a political shield for those who wish to see their entire climate agenda move forward.

For this reason, your good work is vital to ensuring that the elected representatives of the people in Congress are ultimately responsible and accountable for any official acts of comprehensive federal policy to address climate change. The American people have over the past few years begun to express increasing skepticism over the economic viability and environmental impact of “cap-and-trade” proposals.

In 2009, the House passed its version of cap-and-trade legislation by an extremely narrow margin, while the Senate has yet to consider its own bill on the floor. These events demonstrate that many of your colleagues as well as your constituents are expressing a desire for more thoughtful and transparent deliberation of the consequences surrounding cap-and-trade. In our opinion, they also constitute a repudiation of imposing a similar regime by regulatory fiat.

NTU appreciates your efforts to expose and stop EPA’s attempts to increase taxes on American businesses under some cloak of “environmental responsibility.” Please feel free to contact us if our staff or members can assist you in this regard.


Pete Sepp
Vice President for Policy and Communications