Clean Water Act overreach: For years EPA has been trying to redefine “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act in order to extend its jurisdictional reach far beyond what Congress ever intended. The most recent attempt, the so-called wetlands guidance, was drafted in April 2011 and has been languishing at the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) while the president runs for re-election. In April 2012, the Supreme Court blocked EPA’s attempt to fine an Idaho couple $75,000 per day even though the guidance hadn’t been finalized. When 2013 rolls around, expect EPA to issue the guidance and EPA bureaucrats to go forth on water regulations with renewed vigor.
Pre-emptively deny permits: EPA is currently studying the environmental impact of a hypothetical copper mine in Alaska. The made-up mine study is EPA’s attempt to stop the Pebble Project from even requesting a permit to construct a mine that would bring as much as $6 billion of investment to the Bristol Bay area. Groups seeking to develop an area always have to apply for permits and submit plans for mitigating environmental impact, but in 2013 we could see EPA take the unprecedented step of denying a permit before it’s even requested.
A second-term Obama EPA agenda is hard to forecast because the president remains tightlipped about his intentions. However, considering the unprecedented overreach of Obama’s first term and the freedom from the electorate that he would have in a second term, it seems likely that a second-term Obama EPA would inflict significant damage on the American economy.
James Valvo is the director of policy at Americans for Prosperity.