GOP candidates: EPA who?

Steve Milloy Contributor
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The irony in last week’s Iowa Republican presidential date was that only the RINO slammed the Obama Environmental Protection Agency.

For two hours, a Fox News panel peppered Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum with questions, most pressingly about what they would do to create jobs and help speed economic recovery.

But only the least Republican among the field — former Utah Gov. Huntsman who served as Obama’s ambassador to China — hit the nail on the head by attacking the EPA.

“We don’t make things anymore in this country.” Huntsman rightly observed. “We need to start making things in this country. And in order to do that, we need serious regulatory reform, not just repealing Obamacare, but ending the EPA’s regulatory reign of terror.” He mentioned the “EPA’s regulatory reign of terror” twice.

Just two weeks ago, however, Huntsman delivered the keynote address at the annual dinner of the Republicans for Environmental Protection, which my website JunkScience.com, protested as “RINOs for EPA Protection.” REP, after all, has been defending the EPA in response to congressional GOP efforts to rein in the out-of-control agency.

That Huntsman’s views on the EPA have evolved so quickly — he obviously prepared the “reign of terror” sound-bite and used it twice without prompting from the Fox interviewers or his fellow candidates — is only surpassed in surprise by the rest of the field’s omission of any criticism whatsoever directed at the EPA.

If you happen to be a GOP presidential candidate reading this column, please note that the Obama EPA is an economic wrecking ball on the downswing aimed at the American economy.

First, there is the EPA’s multi-warhead assault against coal-fired power plants, which threatens to reduce coal-fired electricity generation by 15 percent by 2016 and increase electricity prices by 15 percent, according to a study Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc. on behalf of the National Mining Association.

This threat is so serious that even The New York Times — no friend of coal-fired electricity — reported that the loss of coal-fired power threatens the availability of electricity during peak demand, i.e., air conditioning during killer heat waves.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that the EPA appears to have lied to the public and Congress about consulting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Council about the impact of removing so much coal-fired power generation so quickly.

Despite asserting to the public that the it consulted with FERC, the federal commission with expertise in interstate electricity transmission, the EPA never conducted promised joint modeling exercises with the Commission on the impacts of its regulations or otherwise seriously consulted with it. Moreover, all five FERC commissioners have written to Sen. Lisa Murkowski indicating that little to no consultation occurred with the EPA.

Next, there is the recently delayed but still-on-track EPA effort to further tighten air quality standards for ozone. Perhaps the most expensive EPA rule ever, it threatens to kill more than 7 million jobs by 2020 and cost $1 trillion per year in compliance between 2020 and 2030.

Again, neither rule will bring any measurable benefits to public health or the environment.

Add to these rules the general Obama EPA assault against the coal, and oil and gas industry. The toll on the economy can be easily imagined, though imagination isn’t necessary.

In its recent report, “Progress Denied: A Study on the Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that regulatory red tape is holding up projects worth 1 million jobs annually and $3.4 trillion in GDP over the next 20 years. While not all this red tape comes from the EPA, plenty does.

Sure, keeping taxes as low as possible and limiting government spending are important, but without economic growth — which the EPA is blocking — neither will be enough to rescue our economy or our country from financial disaster.

The Iowa debate was a shocking reminder of how little Republicans understand about the significance of the rogue and anti-business EPA. Yes, Afghanistan, Iran, immigration, abortion and many others issues are important. But economic growth is vital and the EPA is being used by the political left as a means to arrest growth.

If even a RINO gets it, what’s wrong with the others?

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).