Report: Obama’s EPA power balloons

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

The authority granted to the Environmental Protection Agency has exploded under the Obama administration, regulating vast sections of the national economy, according to a new report.

A report by the libertarian American Legislative Exchange Council found that the EPA’s new authority has cost taxpayers billions of dollars and the economy millions of jobs, while also usurping the authority of states to govern their own environmental affairs.

“During Obama’s first term, the nation has seen an unprecedented increase in the EPA’s power over states,” said Todd Wynn, director of ALEC’s Task Force on Energy, Environment and Agriculture. “The federal and state governments are supposed to cooperate in order to achieve environmental goals but the EPA has actively pursued control over the states and has replaced input of state officials with radical environmental groups.”

The report focuses on three different ways the EPA has gone about expanding its powers: engaging in sue-and-settle lawsuits, issuing regulatory disapprovals and taking control of state environmental plans.

“Since 2009, however, EPA has centralized a great deal of environmental policymaking,” said William Yeatman, author of the report and assistant director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Even worse, the agency has found a method, known as sue and settle, to effectively replace states with environmentalist special interests in the regulatory process.”

According to ALEC, the use of sue-and-settle lawsuits has exploded under the Obama administration, adding $13 billion in regulatory costs since 2009.

Sue and settle occurs when outside groups — usually environmental organizations — sue the EPA after it misses a regulatory deadline. The EPA enters into a consent decree and then must begin crafting new rules. Congressional Republicans have attacked the Obama administration over sue and settle, arguing it is a way for environmental groups to force stricter rules while locking industry out of the review process.

Environmental groups, however, argue that Republicans are looking to fix a “nonexistent” problem.

“In litigation against the Unites States over four decades, National Resource Defense Council attorneys have observed that Department of Justice and agency attorneys zealously advocate for the government’s position,” said John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resource Defense Council. “This has been true under both Democratic and Republican administrations… There’s no evidence of collusion between agencies and private entities.”

There were 48 sue- and-settle lawsuits in Obama’s first term, according to ALEC — 380 percent more than the average sue- and-settle rate during both of President George W. Bush’s terms and President Bill Clinton’s second term.

The EPA’s use of regulatory disapprovals — when the agency effectively throws out a state’s environmental plan — has also skyrocketed. The EPA issued 95 disapprovals during Obama’s first term — 190 percent more than the average from the previous three terms of Obama’s predecessors.

The EPA has not only disapproved many state plans, but has taken to completely taken them over, using Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs). Between 1997 and 2009, the EPA only imposed two FIPs, but since 2009 the agency has implemented 19 FIPs — a large increase from the previous three presidential terms.

The EPA did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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