If the 2014 midterm election results represent a resounding repudiation of misguided Obama administration policies — as I believe they do — then Congress has a clear responsibility to exercise a voter mandate to assert corrective measures. For starters, there’s no place better to begin than to rein in EPA’s U.N.-contrived junk climate science-predicated regulatory rampage which Congress never authorized.
One immediate response would be to resurrect the “Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny” — REINS Act; H.R. 367, S. 15 — which requires Congress to approve all major regulations, those with economic impacts of at least $100 million per year, before they go into effect. This is but one of hundreds of bills passed by the House and blocked by Senate Leader Harry Reid.
Such action is urgently needed. According to James Gattuso and Diana Katz of the Heritage Foundation, just since 2009 alone the EPA has imposed more new regulatory costs than all other executive branch agencies combined. This has added, at minimum, a $40 billion burden to the U.S. economy every year.
EPA’s most recent and costly regulatory assault on energy and economic security requires that every state cut its carbon dioxide emissions by a national average of 30 percent over 15 years from levels of 25 years earlier. This lends credence to President Obama’s prediction that his energy policies will make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that new EPA rules on CO2 power plant emissions alone will shut down hundreds of coal-fired generators, add $289 billion in consumer electricity costs and lower household disposable incomes by $586 billion by 2030. The chamber also projects that the regulations will cost the U.S. economy 2.3 million jobs and half a trillion in lost GDP over the next 10 years.
Get ready for even more pain. Earlier this year, President Obama ordered EPA to explore possible new methane emission regulations, while also directing the Interior Department to prepare new rules for flaring methane from oil and gas production on federal lands. The Marcellus Drilling News received an e-mail alert from the Independent Petroleum Association of America — IPAA — which said “EPA (and the Bureau of Land Management) . . . will unveil devastating new regulations after the November elections."
All of this is argued because methane, which companies flare off as a byproduct of oil and gas production, is regarded to be a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Never mind that satellites reveal that global mean temperatures have been flat over the past 18 years despite rising atmospheric CO2 levels.
So far, while EPA hasn’t committed as to whether or not it will craft new regulations or expand voluntary programs to reduce methane emissions, white papers it has issued on the subject leave little wonder. The agency has announced that it is studying a full range of policy options in connection with the White House Methane Strategy issued last March.
Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe who has been tracking EPA’s progress in crafting new methane rules anticipates a most unfortunate outcome. He told the Daily Caller News Foundation, “The president’s true agenda will be revealed after the election. With no electoral consequences remaining for him, he will set crosshairs on the oil and gas industry with even tighter regulations that threaten the health of our economy.”
That isn’t all. In concert with President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, EPA has identified priority actions to incorporate future climate change implications into even more of its programs, policies, rules and operations. Included are new climate adaptation criteria for community grants to address sites contaminated by petroleum and hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants.
Even the federal government’s GAO has criticized EPA’s failure to quantify negative economic impacts of far-reaching edicts. While claiming wildly exaggerated, theoretical and scientifically unsubstantiated benefits, sweeping costs realized through lost jobs and high energy prices are conspicuously missing from the equations. Such burdens fall heaviest upon populations least able to bear them.
Enactment of the REINS Act will demonstrate that the newly reconstituted Congress is finally prepared to reclaim constitutional legislative roles and responsibilities which have willingly and witlessly been allowed to be usurped by unaccountable executive branch regulators. Sure, as provided by constitutional protections, the president — any president — can veto such congressional resolutions. Let consequential credit or blame be exposed to the full light of public scrutiny all around.
Otherwise, as Gattuso and Katz of Heritage observe, “The result is power without accountability — a useful formula politically but an abysmal one for policy-making. The REINS Act would end this shell game.”
Larry Bell is a professor and endowed professor at the University of Houston, where he directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and heads the graduate program in space architecture. He is author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax,” and his professional aerospace work has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel-Canada. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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