Jun 27 2011 -
Since President Obama took office, the federal government has expanded at an alarming rate. The failed stimulus and Obamacare are two prime examples, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also been at the forefront of this effort. The EPA’s proposed policies could lead to higher energy and food costs for all Americans and stifle economic opportunity at a time when we should be promoting job creation.
Preventing a New Energy Tax
During the last Congress, environmentalists proposed a tax on carbon known as cap and trade to force Americans to use less energy. Because electricity rates would have soared, I helped block efforts to impose this tax. Now, the EPA wants to expand existing regulations and create new barriers for domestic energy through administrative rules that would side-step Congressional action. These rules amount to a backdoor cap and trade scheme.
Higher electricity rates impact families and businesses alike. These costs would put U.S. workers at a disadvantage to our overseas competitors who are not subjected to the same energy costs and government regulations. The level of federal overreach by the EPA is unprecedented in scope and takes no consideration of how these newly imposed requirements will impact jobs and the American economy.
Clean Water Act Abuse
In addition to energy oversight, the EPA is also seeking greater jurisdiction over waterways around the country. The agency wants to classify small waterways and drainage ditches on farmland as “navigable waters,” so it could regulate them. I recently joined other Senators in writing to the EPA Administrator questioning the agency’s new interpretation of the Clean Water Act. This change, we wrote, “will significantly expand federal control of private lands.” This unnecessary expansion takes power away from states and could lead to an increase in litigation for families and businesses.
Other Attempts at Overreach
The EPA has also threatened to begin regulating dust generated by farming. Farmers and ranchers would be forced to limit the effect of dust created by their agricultural production, and communities could be required to pave or treat dirt roads. Mississippi’s farmers are already struggling with rising prices for fuel, feed, and fertilizer. Unnecessary EPA regulations threaten to send costs even higher.
Unfortunately, the EPA is not the only part of the Obama Administration promoting more government involvement. The President’s nominee for Commerce Secretary, John Bryson, has advocated the national cap and trade energy tax and larger federal role for industries. The primary mission of the Commerce Department is to create jobs, but Mr. Bryson’s ideas could have the opposite effect by adding burdensome red tape in this already fragile economy.
Limiting the Administration
To help stop this overreach, I have co-sponsored the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require Congress and the President to approve all new major rules before they can be enforced. Major rules would be those that have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more. Last year, 100 such rules were finalized by the Executive Branch without Congressional oversight.
Preventing unnecessary and burdensome regulations from going into effect is an important start to reining in the EPA and the rest of the Administration. I will continue to oppose the dramatic expansion of power for the Executive Branch and work to repeal much of what has already been imposed.