The Environmental Protection Agency is so out of control that it needs a major fix, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli tells Newsmax.TV.
And a court case challenging the agency’s powers to limit greenhouse gases now before a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., could be just the remedy the agency needs, he said.
“I am cautiously optimistic that the court will send this back to the EPA to be fixed,” Cuccinelli said.
“I hope to fix it like a dog — snip — but that’s going to require a new president as well, so I hope the timing will work out well for that,” he said during the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview.
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Virginia and Texas are leading efforts to challenge the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases are pollutants that endanger health. A three-judge panel is being asked to determine whether states and industries must comply with regulations that curtail their output.
Companies including Massey Energy and business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have joined the states in the challenge.
The states would not have brought the case if they did not expect to win, he said, adding, “It’s always hard to beat an agency because they get such tremendous deference in the courts.”
So much extra information came out after the EPA, which Cuccinelli described as “a rogue agency,” had made its ruling that the whole issue should be reopened. “It’s worth noting — if for nothing else, humor —that in rejecting it, the EPA issued a 360-page document explaining why they didn’t need to reopen the record.”
One of the problems is that the EPA’s own rules demand that it should regulate when more than 250 tons of pollutant are produced, Cuccinelli said. But it arbitrarily changed that to 25,000 tons when it came to carbon dioxide, he said.
“That sounds like a good thing, because they end up regulating less things, but the agency doesn’t get to rewrite the statute,” he said. If it were to adhere to the 250-ton standard, it would be so overloaded that it could never issue all the necessary permits. “The office building I am sitting in talking to you now would be regulatable under the Greenhouse Gas Endangerment finding,” he insisted.
Many EPA rulings hit the poorest hardest, Cuccinelli said. “One of the poorest parts of Virginia — one of the poorest parts of America, Appalachia — is where coal is mined, and that is pretty much the main industry they’ve got down there.
“Let’s face it, part of the goal here is for the president to keep his promise to shut that industry down, but nobody talks about the poor people and the relatively poor regions that those economic activities are taking place in. People need to remember that when you have this kind of dramatic, across-the-board regulation, the people hurt first and the people hurt worst are the poor.”
Cuccinelli, a three-term state senator who was elected attorney general in 2009, has said he intends to run for the Republican nomination for governor next year. Virginia is the only state in the union that bars sitting governors from standing for a second term, so incumbent Republican Bob McDonnell will not be eligible to run.
The attorney general attacked President Barack Obama’s energy policies as being responsible for the country’s rising gas prices. “Certainly they have cut off, over the course of the last couple of years, the opportunity for us to be producing more here in this country,” he said.
“I got asked today, in Alexandria, one of the most liberal parts of Virginia, ‘What are we doing about offshore drilling in Virginia?’ Because Virginia was legally prepared first among all the East Coast states to start exploring in preparation for drilling and the federal government just shut us down; they just absolutely said, ‘No. Nothing. You can’t even go find out what’s out there.’
“So when I hear the president talk about ‘you fix your tire pressure,’ my blood pressure goes up a lot. We are ready at least to investigate the opportunities for production here offshore in Virginia just as one simple example that this administration has shut down.”
And on Virginia’s other major challenge to the federal government — over healthcare — Cuccinelli said he still believes the Supreme Court will find the individual mandate part of the law unconstitutional.
“But if we lose, there’s a couple of things,” he said. “Federalism as we have known it for over 200 years is effectively dead and the significance of sovereign entities of the states as distinct from the federal government has been reduced to a degree that has never happened before in our history.
“That would be an extraordinary tragedy in America.”
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