Latest posts by Nancy Thorner (see all)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday, June 1, a power-plant proposal that seeks a 30% carbon dioxide emissions cut by 2030 from existing power plant, based on emission levels from 2005. With this proposal, the main piece of President Obama’s Climate Change Agenda has been set in motion. Although the rule is scheduled to be completed one year from now and will give flexibility to the states, it will regulate carbon emissions from hundreds of fossil-fuel power plants across the U.S. The 600 U.S. coal plants will be hardest hit by the standard.
As reported by the EPA (International Energy Agency), the cost of decarbonization since the last estimate of two year ago has increased by 22% due to the growth of coal power far outpacing renewables in carbon dioxide production. It would now cost $44 trillion to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s power generation industry to levels that would curtail global warming to 3.6 degrees through 2050, a safe level agreed to by international leaders.
As most of the warming in the past century occurred before 1940, before CO2 emissions could have been a major factor. Common sense alone should be enough to alert the Obama administration, yet there is sound science, that spending $44 trillion to limit temperature rise by 3.6 degrees by 2050 wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans other than cause an economic disaster.
Between 1940 and 1970 temperatures fell even as CO2 levels increased. According to Climate Scientist Dr. Judith Curry and other notable scientists, public debate is moving away from the 15-17 year pause in any Global Warming to a period of Global Cooling. Why then would the temperature rise a few degrees by 2050? Because the ‘Sun Sleeps’, according to Danish Solar Scientist Svensmark, who has declared that “global warming has stopped and cooling is beginning…enjoy global warming while it lasts.”
Nicolas Loris, an economist who focuses on energy, environmental land regulatory issues at The Heritage Foundation, compares the EPA to a misbehaved child who is recklessly doing what it wants at the expense of others without any supervision. He has proposed that Congress cut the EPA budget, just as parents might punish children by taking away their allowance. Loris suggests ten areas for Congress to cut that would prevent the EPA from implementing regulations “that will drive up living costs for American families for little, if any, environmental benefit.” Loris further recommends that the EPA “eliminate programs that are either “wasteful, duplicative, or simply not the role of the federal government”, and then goes on to list program that Congress should cut immediately.
Cuts could be made to rein in the EPA, as outlined in the plan put forth by Nicolas Loris, but Jay Lehr, Ph.D., science director for the Heartland Institute, and one of the nation’s most respected and widely cited experts on air and water quality, climate change, and biotechnology, broke ground in revealing his comprehensive plan to reform the EPA in his remarks as a Keynote breakfast speaker at Heartland’s recent International Conference on Climate Change held in Las Vegas from July 7 – 9. Jay Lehr, Ph.D. introduced a legislative plan to replace the United States Environmental Protection Agency with a Committee of the Whole of the State Environmental Protection Agencies, utilizing a phased five-year transition period.
Jay Lehr’s comprehensive EPA plan follows:
In 1968 when I was serving as the head of a ground water professional society it became obvious to me, and a handful of others, that the United States did not have any serious focus on potential problems with its air quality, drinking water quality, surface water quality, waste disposal problems as well as contamination that could occur from mining and agriculture. I held the nation’s first Ph.D. in ground water hydrology which gave me insight to understand the problems. I was asked by the Director of the Bureau of Water Hygiene in the U.S. Department of Health to serve on a panel to study the potential to expand their oversight into a full Environmental Protection organization.
We collectively spoke before dozens of congressional committees in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate calling attention to mounting environmental pollution problems. We called for the establishment of an Environmental Protection Agency and in 1971 we succeeded. I was appointed to a variety of the new agency’s advisory councils, and over the next 10 years we helped to write a significant number of legislative bills which were to make up a true safety net for our environment. They included: THE WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT (later to be renamed THE CLEAN WATER ACT); THE SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT; RESOURCE CONSERVATION AND RECOVERY ACT; THE SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION ACT (which surprisingly covered deep mines as well); THE CLEAN AIR ACT; THE FEDERAL INSECTICIDE, RODENTICIDE AND FUNGICIDE ACT; and finally THE COMPREHENSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSE COMPENSATION AND LIABILITY ACT we now know as Superfund.
All of these acts worked extremely well for the protection of the environment and the health of our citizens, with the exception of the Superfund Law, which proved to be far too over reaching and wreaked havoc with American business, as after the fact companies operating within the law were fined countless dollars and required to pay huge sums for cleanup of waste disposal that had been within the law at the time of the activity.
From 1981 activists groups recognized that the EPA could be used to alter our government by coming down heavily on all human activities regardless of its impact on the environment. It is my strong opinion that no single law or regulation has been passed since 1981 which benefited either the environment or society.
The power of environmental activists to take control of the EPA, and all of its activities, was slow and methodical over the past 30 years to the point where EPA is all but a wholly owned subsidiary of environmental activist groups controlling 10% of the U.S. budget.
For over 20 years I have worked tirelessly to expose this story to the public beginning with my 1991 book, ‘Rational Readings on Environmental Concerns’, where 50 other environmental scientists joined together to describe the manner in which their own fields had been hijacked and distorted to allow fear mongering of an unconscionable nature.
I believe that the current structure of the U.S. EPA can and should be replaced now by a Committee of the Whole of the outstanding 50 state Environmental Protection Agencies, which in nearly all cases have long ago taken over primary responsibility for the implementation of all environmental laws passed by Congress or simply handed down as fiat rulings without congressional vote or oversight of U.S EPA.
When the agency was established in 1971 the federal government had no choice but to oversee all regulations of the initial seven safety net laws. Rapidly, however, every state established an independent agency which filed for and were granted primary control of the implementation of all the existing laws. With only rare exception, each state is now under full control of the regulatory program. They are continually harassed to be sure that no one evades the heavy hand of the dozens of new regulations passed yearly over the past three decades, which have strengthened the initial laws, but have not benefited either our environment or the health of our citizens. Instead, they deter our economy and the right of our citizens to make an honest living without endangering the environment.
With 30 years of experience, these 50 state environmental agencies are ready to collectively take over the entire management of the nation’s environment. Only the — USEPA research laboratories should be left in place to answer continual scientific questions, which would no longer be under the heavy hand of Washington politics.
Eighty per cent of what is now — USEPA’s budget could be eliminated, while 20% could be used to run the research labs and administer the Committee of the Whole 50 State Agencies. A relatively small administrative structure will be needed to allow the collective states to refine all existing environmental laws in a manner more suitable to the primary requirement of protecting our environment, without thwarting national progress in all industry and the development of our natural resources and energy supplies.
— USEPA could be phased out over five years with a one-year preparation period, followed by a four-year program in which 25% of the agencies activities would be passed to the Committee of the Whole each year beginning with those activities least critical to the nation. The Committee of the Whole will be made up of representatives from each state from each significant area of concern. The Committee of the Whole will be divided up into subcommittees reflecting exactly how — USEPA is set up, although many programs and offices within — USEPA may be eliminated at the will of the states. Offices, for instance, whose primary purpose is oversight of the state agencies.
The Committee of the Whole would quickly determine which regulations are actually mandated in law by the Congress and which were established independently by — USEPA, believing that legislation allowed them such latitude. Rules written clearly into legislation would be recommended for continuance or considered for request that the Congress take another look at regulations that the Committee of the Whole deems unnecessary in their current form.
Regulations clearly not supported by writings within legislation would be considered by the applicable subcommittees and the whole committee for alteration by a two-thirds vote of the Committee of the Whole.
Until the Committee of the Whole acted upon each individual regulation, all regulations would remain in force. Many regulations would give states latitude to act while others would be required of all states by a two-thirds vote of the Committee of the Whole.
Each state would be funded to increase their staff to include people whose primary jobs would be to serve on subcommittees of the Committee of the Whole overseeing the issues previously overseen by the current — USEPA.
This phase out of — USEPA could be done in an orderly manner within five years. Oversight of the existing — USEPA research labs would eventually be seeded to a subcommittee of the whole.
When one considers how the — USEPA was initially set up, along with the growth of the state agencies, this is actually a logical endpoint that could have begun 30 years ago.
The specific details of the five-year transfer from the Washington D.C. based — USEPA and its 10 regional offices would be carried out as follows.
The Federal Budget for environmental protection will be reduced from $8.2 billion to $2 billion.
The manpower will be reduced from over 15,000 to 300, who will serve in the new headquarters to be located centrally in Topeka Kansas to allow the closest contact with the individual states and reduce travel costs from the states to central headquarters of the Committee of the Whole.
The 300 individuals working in Topeka, Kansas will come as six delegate/employees from each of the 50 states. The personnel currently working at more than two dozen research centers will remain in place until the Committee of the Whole chooses to make changes.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is presently divided into 14 Offices which include the following:
OFFICE OF THE ADMINISTRATOR
OFFICE OF AMERICAN INDIAN ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICE
OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AND TRIBAL AFFAIRS
OFFICE OF POLICY
OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT
OFFICE OF ENFORCEMENT AND COMPLIANCE ASSURANCE
OFFICE OF FAIR AND RADIATION
OFFICE OF CHEMICAL SAFETY AND POLLUTION PREVENTION
OFFICE OF SOLID WASTE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE
OFFICE OF WATER
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNCIL
OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
In the first year of transition all employees of — USEPA will be informed of the five-year transition period allowing them ample time to seek other employment opportunities both from the Washington D.C. offices and the ten Regional offices that parallel to a large extent the activities in Washington. Additionally. during year one the two offices relating to Indian issues (American Indian Environmental Office and International and Tribal Affairs), will be transferred to THE UNITED STATES BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS which should welcome this responsibility, along with about half of the monies budgeted for them within — USEPA. During this first year all 300 employees relocating from our 50 states (six each) will begin work in the new Topeka, Kansas offices to be established early in year one.
A Chairman of the Committee of the Whole will be elected by the 300 delegate employees to a three-year term early in the transition after which the 300 employee/ delegates will be assigned to sub committees simulating the offices which exist in Washington, D.C.
During year two all activities of the Offices of Policy, Administration and Resource Management, as well as Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, will be transferred to Topeka from Washington, D.C. and the Regional Offices.
Years Three, Four, and Five:
In year three all activities of the Offices of Air and Radiation, as well as Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, will be transferred to Topeka. In year four the responsibilities of the Office of Water and the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response will move to Topeka. In the final year the remaining Offices of Chief Financial Officer, General Council, Environmental Information, and the Office of the Administrator will have their responsibilities moved to Topeka.
During each year of transition members of the Topeka staff will be assigned for periods of time to both the Washington D.C. Offices and the Regional Offices to study the activities of the existing units. It is quite likely that as the office responsibilities are transferred to Topeka, the Committee of the Whole of the 50 state agencies will choose to totally eliminate some of them.
It is also anticipated that if some D.C. offices experience an early excessive attrition of employees relocating before the phase out of their office, an earlier transfer of responsibility to Topeka may be required.
As monies are freed up in the transition from 15,000 federal employees to 300, each state will be allocated $20 million to enhance their new independent responsibilities and replace the six employees transferred to Topeka. In addition to that use of one billion dollars (50 x $20 million), it is anticipated that the management of the Topeka offices and the continuation of the research and development program will require a second billion dollars allowing the permanent reduction of a $8.2 billion federal outlay for environmental protection down to a total of $2 billion.
Not only will large sums of money be saved by this transition, but the efficiency and quality of environmental protection will be enhanced by placing power and responsibility in the hands of the individual states. It is well known that government closest to the location of the governed is the best for all. Most states will embrace this plan, as it gives them the authority they have always sought and the funding to carry it out.
At this point in time, it should be recognized that it is absurd to think that 50 outstanding state environmental protection agencies with over 30 years of experience require the over sight of 15,000 federal employees. It made sense in the agencies first decade of the 70’s’, it has made no sense since then. Today the EPA is an agency whose value has long since disappeared. The new oversight by the collective Committee of the Whole of the 50 state agencies will carry out the needs of the nation more effectively and more efficiently with dramatically reduced costs in line with how our republic was established to operate.
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. was a Keynote speaker on Wednesday, July 9, at 8:00 AM PDT Listen to Lehr’s remarks here.
[Originally published at Illinois Review]