Tom Borelli

With unemployment unacceptably high and a new onslaught of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations about to crash into a stumbling economy, now is the time for the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives to end the EPA’s regulatory madness.

In the face of our daunting economic challenges the EPA is advancing new rules under the Clean Air Act that will dramatically increase the compliance costs for coal burning utilities.

The costs of the EPA’s actions against industry and the economy are real. In anticipation of the EPA’s new requirements, American Electric Power (AEP), an Ohio based utility, announced in June it was closing five power plants and will be scaling back operations at six additional facilities. AEP estimated that its actions will cost about 600 jobs that generated approximately $40 million in annual wages.

Naturally, AEP will pass on the additional compliance costs to its consumers, who will bear the brunt of EPA’s burden through higher electricity prices.

AEP had already made great strides in reducing its environmental impact. According to the company, the $7.2 billion it spent since 1990 to reduce emissions from its coal fired power plants cut the annual release of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by 80 and 73 percent, respectively.

Keep in mind the impact outlined above is only for one utility. The total cost for our nation’s utilities will obviously be far greater.

American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) recently estimated that two new EPA rules would cost utilities $18 billion per year and lead to job losses of an estimated 1.44 million job-years by 2020 and boost the average electricity bills by 11.5 percent and about 24 percent in certain areas of the U.S.

Importantly, it’s not just conservatives or industries that are challenging the EPA. Even nanny state New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now challenging the EPA over the agency’s water regulations.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Bloomberg administration sent a 15 page letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson detailing the tremendous regulatory burden the agency is putting on New York City.

The Journal reports the letter states the EPA is forcing the city to implement federal mandates that is “unnecessarily driving up” water costs, resulting in a 134% increase in water rates since Bloomberg became mayor in 2002.

The story highlights a regulatory requirement to cover a reservoir in Yonkers, New York that will cost $1.6 billion, of which the commissioner of the city's Department of Environmental Protection said the public health benefit would “essentially be nil.”

Bloomberg’s opposition to the EPA is noteworthy because, in addition to being a heath crusader known for attacking soda, salt and trans-fats, the mayor is a strong advocate for environmental protection.

In 2008, Bloomberg compared the threat of global warming to the dangers posed by terrorism. “Terrorists kill people. Weapons of mass destruction have the potential to kill an enormous amount of people,” and “global warming in the long term has the potential to kill everybody,” he said.

Bloomberg is not the only mayor clashing with the EPA. The Journal story also notes mayors nationwide are complaining about the EPA. Don Plusquellic, the mayor of Akron, Ohio and the former President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, described the agency as “rabid dogs coming after cities,” urging Congress to control an EPA “run wild.”

With industry and cities at risk we can’t afford to pay the price of President Obama’s EPA run amok.

The House majority must use its power of the purse to control and defang the EPA.

The House Appropriations Committee FY2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill cuts the EPA’s budget by $1.5 billion, or 20 percent below Obama’s funding level and it also contains riders that delay the implementation of some of the EPA’s harmful rules.

One rider, for example, prevents the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries for one year.

While the left will scream about these cuts, the Appropriations Committee is not going far enough to stop the EPA. With a rogue agency such as the EPA, cutting the budget is not enough – the bureaucrats will simply move money around.

To control the EPA and stop the agency from implementing its war on coal-fired power plants, the House needs to expand its riders to specifically address the EPA’s Clean Air Transport rule and Maximum Achievable Control Technology (or MACT) rules for power plants – the regulations that are making AEP close its power plants.

The House majority must know they are going to get heat from the left because of the EPA budget cuts and its handful of measures to control the EPA. Given our economic condition, there is no time to dither with halfway efforts.

We need the Congressional leadership to take bold steps now to stop the regulatory madness being implemented by the EPA. Let’s hope it is up to the task.


Tom Borelli

Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks.

Be the first to read Tom Borelli's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox. Sign up today!

Due to the overwhelming enthusiasm of our readers it has become necessary to transfer our commenting system to a more scalable system in order handle the content.