Opinion

Enough! Time to stop the EPA!

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Joseph Bast
President, The Heartland Institute
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      Joseph Bast

      Joseph L. Bast is president of The Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit research and education organization based in Chicago, Illinois.

Americans are a patient people. They tolerate untold amounts of government waste and incompetence, unnecessary regulations that are impossible to comply with, and a tax code so complicated that even people with modest incomes or no income at all have to hire people to file their tax returns.

But there is a limit even to American perseverance, and one agency of the national government has clearly exceeded it: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Today, The Heartland Institute is submitting to Congress more than 16,000 signed petitions demanding that Congress “rein in the EPA.” The petition recites EPA’s many sins against science and common sense committed during its campaign “to scare the American people into believing that their health, safety and even survival was at stake because of man-made global warming.”

It says “the EPA, having lost their war to scare America into giving them legislation that would allow them to seize control of virtually all energy production and use, are perverting the Clean Air law to give themselves unprecedented powers to regulate American society.”

The petition concludes saying “therefore, I call for deep cuts in the size, power and cost of the EPA.”

EPA wasn’t always so unpopular. It was created in 1970 to protect the air, land, and waterways of the U.S. from harmful pollution. Thanks in part to the agency’s efforts, Americans today enjoy a vastly cleaner environment — among the healthiest in the industrialized world. Yet over the years, EPA has become a rogue agency grasping for ever-more illegitimate power that does little or nothing to protect the environment.

Today’s EPA spends billions of dollars (approximately $9 billion in 2012) imposing senseless regulations. Compliance with its unnecessary rules costs hundreds of billions of dollars more. EPA bureaucrats spend their time and our money imposing regulations that destroy jobs, cut off America’s vast energy resources from exploration, harm our economy, and suppress freedom and property rights.

The toll our EPA is taking on the country is staggering, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work at a time when millions of people are unemployed and our reliance on foreign sources of energy threatens to compromise the nation’s security.

According to Dr. Jay Lehr, science director of The Heartland Institute and a leading authority on water pollution and environmental protection, “EPA’s budget could safely be cut by 80 percent or more without endangering the environment or human health. Most of what EPA does today could be done better by state government agencies, many of which didn’t exist or had much less expertise back in 1970, when EPA was created.”

Do the opinions of 16,000 Americans matter? We think they do. Most of our petitions were hand-signed and mailed to The Heartland Institute. Some even have notes added saying EPA should be abolished outright.

This is the real voice of real Americans, not the feel-good messages funded by the crony capitalist renewable fuels industry or its sock puppets in the environmental movement and media.

People are fed up with the EPA. They know it has exceeded its mandate and can be reduced in size and replaced on the ground by state agencies. Looking for a fresh start after the elections? Here’s something both political parties ought to get behind.

Joseph L. Bast is president of The Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit research and education organization based in Chicago, Illinois.