Entries in EPA (10)
Well, many of us thought we’d never see this day, but it appears Congress is finally trying to rein in the overreaching Obama EPA, which has acted like a governing body unto itself since Obama’s occupation of the White House. With the upcoming Senate vote that could put a halt to the EPA’s Utility MACT rule, and now a bipartisan effort in the House to block another ridiculous rule that would regulate puddles in your backyard, it seems the Agency’s runaway rulemaking may be in jeopardy.
But first, let’s look at exactly how absurd the EPA’s reinterpretation of the Clean Water Act really is.
From Human Events:
EPA power grab to regulate ditches, gullies on private property
By: Audrey Hudson
Lawmakers are working to block an unprecedented power grab by the Environmental Protection Agency to use the Clean Water Act (CWA) and control land alongside ditches, gullies and other ephemeral spots by claiming the sources are part of navigable waterways.
These temporary water sources are often created by rain or snowmelt, and would make it harder for private property owners to build in their own backyards, grow crops, raise livestock and conduct other activities on their own land, lawmakers say.
So essentially, if there is heavy rain in your area one day, EPA regulators could be paying you a visit the next. But this one was seemingly so over-the-top that even Congress is calling the EPA’s bluff:
“Never in the history of the CWA has federal regulation defined ditches and other upland features as ‘waters of the United States,’” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking committee member, and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
“This is without a doubt an expansion of federal jurisdiction,” the lawmakers said in a May 31 letter to House colleagues. […]
To read the full article click on link(s) above.
The feds appear to be making moves to silence a whistleblowing agency, the North Americans Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), “because NERC's position is that the EPA goal of mothballing many or most coal-fired power plants could endanger the security of the electric-power grid, with possible blackouts and much higher energy costs. In a follow-up report last year it found that ‘Environmental regulations are shown to be the number one risk to reliability over the next one to five years,’” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Getting Even on Reliability
The feds retaliate against an advisory board for doing its job.
Imagine if some obscure trading desk within J.P. Morgan had tried to warn Jamie Dimon about corporate malfeasance—or perhaps a risky investment—and it turned out he tried to shut up the whistleblower. We'd never hear the end of it. Somehow the same norms don't apply in government, as shown by a federal energy regulator's reprisals against an independent advisory body.
The target is the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC, and its crime is scrutinizing the Obama Administration's anticarbon agenda. This highly respected nonprofit has monitored the power system since the 1960s and establishes best practices to keep the lights on. In 2005, Congress gave NERC a formal role as adviser. But now it may be defrocked for questioning the "pace and aggressiveness" of the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory wave in a 2010 report.
NERC's position is that the EPA goal of mothballing many or most coal-fired power plants could endanger the security of the electric-power grid, with possible blackouts and much higher energy costs. In a follow-up report last year it found that "Environmental regulations are shown to be the number one risk to reliability over the next one to five years."
Apparently that was too honest for Washington. Earlier this month the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission disclosed that it has spent months conducting a highly unusual audit of NERC. The commission oversees NERC under the 2005 law, so it has every right to check its practices. But this probe exceeded normal auditing standards and was a free-floating investigation into NERC's "economy and efficiency," whatever that means. It didn't find any rule-breaking.
Instead, the auditors question NERC's focus and statutory responsibilities, concluding that it "may have exceeded the functions" Congress intended for a reliability organization. Never mind that NERC has been doing the same job for decades and its integrity hasn't been questioned. The feds also complain about NERC's "periodic reliability assessments," otherwise considered the gold standard. They say this role "should be revisited."
In other words, the energy G-men think NERC should help protect reliability without studying the actual threats to reliability. This may be intimidation to get NERC to tone down its candor, or it could be a prelude to decertifying NERC to silence a troublesome critic. NERC tried to compromise on some of the audit's proposals while protecting its core duties, but the feds are now litigating to impose them.
The back story is that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff is an EPA wingman and President Obama ally. He has told the trade press that he has "some real, real, real serious issues with respect to the functioning of NERC," without details, and he launched the audit on his own personal authority as boss. It's especially notable that Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur—an Obama appointee—attacked the move as "inconsistent with Commission regulations" and said it should have been put to a vote.
Bureaucratic infighting is an eternal reality of government, but Congress should ask Mr. Wellinghoff what he has to fear from honest counsel.
As we look to the Supreme Court to hand down a ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare this week, here's an example of a different federal judge doing her part to halt the Obama administration's regulatory onslaught.
The background: The Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit for a coal mining company to build a facility in West Virginia, a state hit hard by the recession and extremely reliant on the mining industry for jobs and revenue. Then, in January, 2011 the Obama EPA swooped in and revoked the Army Corps' permit, citing environmental concerns (which were taken into account in the Army Corps' permitting process).
Now, in March, 2012 - over a year after the project was stalled by the EPA - it turns out the agency never had the authority to revoke the Army Corps' permit in the first place. A year of jobs and private-sector investment put on hold thanks to the EPA's regulatory overreach.
Check out the AP story below...
Federal judge: EPA overstepped authority revoking permits for Arch Coal surface mine in W.Va.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A federal judge says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority in revoking permits for what could now become West Virginia's largest mountaintop removal mine.
In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of St. Louis-based Arch. She declares a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water pollution permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County is "valid and in full force."
Arch spokeswoman Kim Link says the company is pleased with the decision.
The EPA vetoed the corps' permit for the mine in January 2011, saying it would cause irreparable damage to the environment.
The move enraged both the coal industry and West Virginia politicians, several of whom have since introduced bills to try rein in the EPA.
NH House Leaders Blast EPA Decision to Raise Customer Electric Rate by $15 per Year through Regulation on Bow Plant
CONCORD – House Speaker William O’Brien and House Majority D.J. Bettencourt today offered the following statements in response to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory decision to require a $112 million expense at the Public Service of New Hampshire Bow electricity plant. An Associated Press report stated that this cost translated to a $1.25 increase in customers’ monthly bills, or $15 per year.
House Speaker William O’Brien
“At a time when we are doing everything we can to make New Hampshire more competitive and attractive to employers, the federal government is seeking to punish our residents and small businesses with higher electric rates through unnecessary regulation. The Granite State already has among the highest energy costs in the nation, and this federal mandate will make these costs even higher and make it harder to expand our economy. If President Obama is truly interested in helping create new jobs, he will stop his overzealous regulatory agency immediately. We accept the fact that the Obama Administration will not be assisting our country in allowing businesses to create new jobs. In New Hampshire, all we ask is that it not actively work to prevent job growth. The working families of New Hampshire simply can’t afford a $15 a year hit in their wallets.”
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt
“This is just one more example of government regulation running amok. The Obama Administration, without any data to support their findings and 14 years late, decided that the electric ratepayers should be stuck with an additional cost of $15 each year. This is a hidden federal tax increase through a heavy-handed mandate. This is just the type of regulation that House Republicans have been fighting, as we passed 43 new laws this year to reduce bureaucracy and red tape. While we are making it easier to grow the economy, Democrats in Washington are pushing job-killing regulations to knock our fragile economy back on its knees. This crushing federal mandate needs to be lifted now, and we call on President Obama and Senator Shaheen, who is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, to stop this absurd and outrageous assault on New Hampshire electric ratepayers.”