by: Belinda Silva
Businesses, landowners, and farmers know the feeling of dread that comes with hearing the words “not in compliance” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has earned the reputation of delivering heavy-handed enforcement actions and exorbitant punitive penalties. The agency’s authoritarian over-reach is near legendary, earning them the moniker “rogue agency”. Even the U.S. Supreme Court gave the EPA a dressing-down stating they commonly strong-arm regulated parties into “voluntary compliance” without the opportunity for judicial review. The EPA has taken a firm stance that the rules are published, and therefore, noncompliance is not excusable.
Yet, a congressionally requested federal review of the EPA found the agency regularly ignores rules that pertain to its own operating procedures as dictated by law. In fact, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says the EPA disregards the law in its reporting to congressional inquiries. According to the GAO, the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) is not in compliance with the long-standing Environmental Research, Development and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 (ERDDAA). As well, the agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) fails to follow legal requirements of the Clean Air Act.
The GAO investigation revealed agency staffers routinely judge whether a congressional request is a policy driven question or requires a science-based response. As a result, answers to lawmaker’s queries often have no scientific basis in fact. Also, the agency failed to perform regular five-year impact reviews of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). Under the Clean Air Act, CASAC is to review and report “any adverse public health, welfare, social, economic, or energy effects” resulting from regulations and strategies of NAAQS. According to the GAO, the EPA “has never” instructed CASAC to comply with the federal requirement to review and report.
Members of Congress and the GAO have voiced similar concerns regarding EPA conduct and manner of operational performance.
- Regularly ignores epidemiological evidence that dispels, counters, or invalidates their decisions.
- Ignores their own scientific panels to format or propel false alarms.
- Uses federal law, such as the Clean Water Act, to regulate private lands through regulatory “takings” of rights.
- Consistently exceeds its legislative authority forcing businesses, municipalities, and citizens to challenge regulations through the court system.
- Abuses authority in “policing” of private property activity through notoriously heavy fines.
- Habitually practices “moving the goal” tactics to hamper businesses and industries efforts to remain operationally compliant.
The agency’s standard operating procedures often are in defiance of the law. Also, the arbitrary use of selected and contrived science to establish environmental regulation is a serious threat to our national wellbeing and jeopardizes public health, general welfare, socio-economic conditions and our environment.