Republican Budget Would Dismantle EPA Regulatory Overreach

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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The budget proposed by House Republicans would rein in the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to issue onerous regulations, especially those imposed by the agency in coordination with environmental activists.

The budget, called “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” says “agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to implement an unprecedented activist regulatory policy to the detriment of states, localities, small businesses, and energy consumers.”

“This is evidenced in the many ongoing legal challenges facing EPA’s proposed regulations,” according to the proposal. (RELATED: GOP Budget Makes It Out Of Committee)

“This budget reduces annual funding levels for the EPA in order to allow the EPA to focus on its core mission of simply enforcing laws passed by Congress rather than continuously attempting to re-write them through regulations,” according to the plan.

Republicans would make it harder for the EPA to impose massive regulations without doing cost-benefit analyses and getting approval from Congress. The budget proposal would also limit environmentalists’ ability to use “sue and settle tactics to get the EPA to push ever-stricter regulations.

The budget would provide “protections against the abuse of regulatory consent decrees and settlement agreements to force the unfair imposition of new regulations.” It’s a clear attempt to curb activist use of legal threats to kill fossil fuels.

“Sue and settle” occurs when activists sue EPA for missing a statutory deadline to issue a new regulation. Instead of fighting the case, EPA quickly settles with activists who then get their attorney fees paid by taxpayers. This gives the EPA political cover when issuing costly regulations and allows eco-activists to advance their agenda — all while potential critics of the settlement are locked out of the process.

Republicans have been trying to clamp down on the practice for years, as activist lawsuits against EPA have resulted in billions of dollars worth of new regulations. Republican Rep. [crscore]Doug Collins[/crscore] of Georgia and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa introduced legislation last year to clamp down on lawsuits. (RELATED: Senate GOP Lawmakers Want Balanced Budget Amendment Added To Constitution)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported in 2012 EPA chose not to defend itself against environmentalists at least 60 times between 2009 and 2012. These settled lawsuits “directly resulted in more than 100 new federal rules, many of which are major rules with estimated compliance costs of more than $100 million annually,” according to the Chamber.

The GOP budget also aims to expand U.S. energy production on federal lands — oil and gas production on these lands has faltered under President Barack Obama. It would also eliminate massive EPA regulations like the “waters of the United states” rule and the so-called Clean Power Plan.

“We also ought to be taking full advantage of abundant and affordable American energy. The Obama Administration has declared war on traditional energy resources. That only drives up the cost of living for middle class families and businesses,” Republicans wrote in their budget plan.

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