March 1, 2011

Time to Put Brakes on EPA's Runaway Bureaucrats

FROM-Human Events

Sen. John Barrasso

I recently introduced the “Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act (S.228)” This legislation puts the brakes on Washington’s efforts to institute job-crushing carbon regulations. It is a rebuke that unelected bureaucrats badly need.

The Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act will block all federal authorities from regulating greenhouse gases without express approval from Congress. It puts an end to any grounds for legal action regarding climate change under the Clean Water Act, NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, or federal tort law generally.

Last November, the people sent a message to Washington that they want less spending, less government and more accountability. Here in Washington, the expectation has been that the President and his party would shift their policies in line with the wishes of the voters.

They have not done so..

Regulatory agencies in this President’s administration continue to seize powers they were never granted. Most of these powers are being used to enact policies that couldn’t gain majority support even when the President’s party controlled both houses of Congress. We are witnessing an open rebellion by a runaway Washington bureaucracy against the consent of the governed.

A few weeks ago, President Obama told the American people he would enact regulatory reform in order to “root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost or that are just plain dumb.” We now know that these empty words were a smokescreen for more Washington overreach. Just a few hours after the President’s announcement, his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a statement saying it was “confident” that it wouldn’t need to change any of its existing rules, or even the ones it’s considering.

Ordinarily, this arrogance would be shocking. From the EPA, it is business as usual. The EPA routinely usurps enumerated powers and cloaks this maneuver in the act of enforcing existing law. For instance, under the cover of enforcing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the EPA has blocked over 60 leases for increased oil and gas exploration. They claim that the exploration could affect climate change. Nowhere is the EPA authorized to consider climate change under NEPA.

Now they want to usurp even more regulatory power by introducing a back-door Cap-and-Trade scheme. They are doing this in defiance of the American people, who have made it so clear that they don’t want cap and trade that even a Democrat-controlled Senate wouldn’t pass it. Yet the EPA plans to keep right on going, whether Americans like it or not.

I’ve introduced the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act because it’s time to end frivolous climate-change lawsuits, stop the abuse of all existing federal law and declare a ceasefire in the war on red, white and blue jobs.
By curtailing the regulation of greenhouse gases while still allowing for regulation in areas where those gases pose a clear and direct threat to the public, this bill puts the burden of proof on the EPA to show that direct exposure to the same gases we inhale and exhale every day will threaten public health.

I recognize that different states may have different opinions, and have the constitutional right to act on those opinions. For this reason, my bill does not apply to state governments. This bill only reasserts the rightful authority of Congress on regulatory issues and the sovereignty of the individual states against Washington overreach.

I support the exploration of all forms of energy. Any shift to an alternative energy economy should occur because the people decide that alternative energy is better, not because Washington has made every other form of energy too expensive. If the EPA will not listen to the voice of the people, Congress must act. I urge the Senate to pass the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act.

Senator John Barrasso is a Republican from Wyoming.

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