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New Report Warns of Future EPA Regulations

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released a new report today looking at all the EPA regulations that the Obama Administration has decided to put off until after the election. The report, available here, points out that despite the numerous and harmful regulations enacted by the EPA during Obama’s tenure, there are many more in the pipeline that await America during a second Obama term.

From the introduction:

From all these accounts, it’s pretty clear that if President Obama secures a second term, the Obama-EPA will have a very busy next four years, moving full speed ahead to implement numerous major rules and regulations that he has delayed or punted due to the upcoming election. The radical environmental left may not need to worry, but what about American families, who are working hard in tough economic times, trying to make ends meet? What about those Americans in poor communities or on fixed incomes who are hurting more than ever now that they are spending around 24% of their income on higher energy prices thanks to the Obama-EPA? As the nation struggles to recover from a lagging economy in the coming year, Americans could also be grappling with a regulatory onslaught from the Obama-EPA that will strangle economic growth, destroy millions of jobs, and dramatically raise the price of goods, the cost of electricity, and the price of gas at the pump.

This report takes a close look at many of the regulations put in place by the Obama administration that the next President and EPA administrator will face in the coming year: if the Obama-EPA continues to hold reins in 2013, the outlook for jobs and economic recovery is bleak.

What regulations should we be on the lookout for from the EPA under a second Obama term?

First, the ozone rule, delayed last year until after the election:

Ozone Rule: As the New York Times reported last year, President Obama punted on tightening the ozone standard until after the election, admitting that the “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty” would harm jobs and the economy – but he still pointed to the fact that it will be reconsidered in 2013. EPA itself estimated that its ozone standard would cost $90 billion a year, while other studies have projected that the rule could cost upwards of a trillion dollars and destroy 7.4 million jobs. By EPA’s own projections, it could put 650 additional counties into the category of “non-attainment,” which is the equivalent of posting a “closed for business” sign on communities. Affected counties will suffer from severe EPA-imposed restrictions on job creation and business expansion, including large numbers of plant closures. The Times concluded: “The full retreat on the smog standard was the first and most important environmental decision of the presidential campaign season that is now fully under way. An examination of that decision, based on interviews with lobbyists on both sides, former officials and policy makers at the upper reaches of the White House and the E.P.A., illustrates the new calculus on political and policy shifts as the White House sharpens its focus on the president’s re-election.”

Why did they delay the ozone rule? Because it’s incredibly expensive. According to one study, it could impose up to $1 trillion in annual compliance costs by 2020, and lower GDP by $670 billion dollars.

Next, they look at Obama’s war on the coal industry:

As Administrator Spalding put it, “If you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem.” EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations are designed specifically to ensure that no new coal-fired power plant can ever be built, while its
Utility MACT and Cross State rules are designed not only to prevent new plants but also to shut down existing ones. In addition, EPA’s coal ash rule will help shutter coal plants throughout states like Pennsylvania, West
Virginia, Ohio, and Missouri, having devastating impacts on coal communities. EPA is also waging this war on coal on the permitting front. In May 2010, a report released by the EPW minority staff found that EPA at that time was obstructing 190 coal mining permits, putting nearly 18,000 jobs at risk – and not much has improved since then. Last November, a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) requested by Senator Inhofe confirmed that EPA, through its own actions, has been deliberately and systematically slowing the pace of permit evaluations for new plants in Appalachia. These findings were concerning enough that the Inspector General did a follow up review – and again, in February of this year, the OIG found that EPA did not have a consistent, official recordkeeping system, which was exacerbating permit delays.

There is much more to look at in the whole report. Let’s hope that a second term EPA under President Obama won’t pursue everything in this report.

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