Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way right away: I’m a conservationist. As a youth, I spent a lot of time outdoors and a lot of time in the West. I grew up hiking, tent-camping (pitch your own tent and roll out your own sleeping bag), fishing, and backpacking. Outside of a little poo – which I always buried – I pretty faithfully followed the practice “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints.”
My favorite cartoonist of all time is Walt Kelly, creator of “Pogo,” who gave the world the famous “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us” Earth Day poster pictured nearby. (I keep a black and white version of it framed and hanging on the wall of my apartment.) I pay the high price of living downtown so that I can walk to work if the weather is clement. I do my best to keep the air clean and breathable and the water clean and safe to drink.
I don’t smoke and I turn out lights as I go from room to room. I recycle everything that can be recycled, I have my shoes re-soled, and I pick up and re-use paper clips and rubber bands that I find on the floor or the sidewalk. My carbon footprint is probably about one-one millionth that of Al Gore or Nancy Pelosi, and about one one-billionth that of President Obama every time he steps aboard Air Force One to go play golf. In short, I respect and protect the environment.
But these new EPA regulations have really got me steamed. Here’s why:
In the first place, they’re an affront to government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Our Constitution provides for two kinds of separation of powers: between the states and the national government, and among the branches of the national government. These new regulations violate both.
In a nutshell, the “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” that the EPA issued for comment on June 2, 2014, seek to regulate, in the name of “global warming,” the output of carbon dioxide from every carbon-burning electricity-generating plant in the country. They violate the separation of powers between the president and the Congress because they emanate from the executive branch, not the legislature, which has neither proposed nor debated nor adopted them. They violate the separation of powers between the states and the federal government because, although replete with references like “the broad range of options available to states” they seek, like all federal regulations, to impose a top-down solution from Washington – in this case to a problem that may not even exist and that they won’t solve even if it does.
The proposed regulations also show that the EPA doesn’t really much care very much what the people themselves think, either. They take up 645 pages, including literally two pages just listing some of the acronyms and jargon with which they’re filled. (If you missed them above, you can check ‘em out here.) But they’re the subject of just four – count ‘em, four – public hearings, for one of which the EPA won’t even announce the exact date until later. (If you plan to be in Washington, D.C., the whole week of July 28, though, you’re in luck.)
If you do plan to speak at one of these four hearings – conveniently located in a town near you if you happen to live in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, or the aforementioned District of Columbia – then you should “pre-register in advance” (as opposed to in arrears, we suppose). You could also take your chances of waiting until the day of the hearings, except that “preferences on speaking times may not be able to be fulfilled.”
And “[b]ecause these hearings are being held at U.S. government facilities” (that would be your government, by the way), then you “should be prepared to show valid picture identification to the security staff in order to gain access to the meeting room” although – thank goodness – you still don’t need a picture ID in order to be able to vote.
In addition, you “will need to obtain a property pass for any personal belongings you bring with you,” you must surrender the property pass before you leave the building, you may not bring any large signs in with you, and don’t even think about taking a picture inside the building! (For a government that supposedly works for you, it sure is a bossy employee.)
In short, the EPA’s latest proposed “carbon pollution emission guidelines” are a repugnant assault on a self-governing people. But it gets worse.[Tomorrow, Part Two: The Scientific and Economic Illiteracy of the EPA’s Proposed Carbon Regulations.]