It is the enemy within, made up of powerful Americans atop the federal government pretending to respect American principles even as they say go away, Congress, leave us alone, courts, we are everything. They make most of the rules, they judge them, they execute them and they’ve had it with all the whining about liberty, democratic fundamentals, legislative rights and constitutional safeguards.
Various names are given to this mushrooming, revolutionary phenomenon. It is called the administrative state, unilateral rule, the executive branch gone awry or, more imaginatively, the federal bureaucracy on amphetamines.
One way to describe it is a government relying ever more on barely inhibited regulatory overkill to make everything run right while actually causing everything to quit running. There is also a handy way to illustrate the worst of it with just three words or even just three letters. The three words are Environmental Protection Agency, and the three letters are EPA.
It is a 1970s creation born of a growing awareness of ways in which our industrial society was doing battle with the glory of nature, sustainable resources and human health. Along with states and localities, it did enormous good, especially in cleaning up air and water. But it also came to assume a religiously dogmatic demeanor in which it was mostly answerable only to itself.
It figured its cause was so sacred it was allowed to cheat, connive, bully and play games with science.
Now there’s a solution. His name Scott Pruitt. He is Oklahoma’s attorney general, a brilliant lawyer and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the EPA. The greenie extremists are shaking like leaves in a hurricane because he is a states’ rights kind of guy and has fought powerfully against EPA overreaching. He put together a coalition of other state attorneys general and he got the Supreme Court to say nothing doing to pushing ahead with the controversial, Obama-backed Clean Power Plan until courts had reviewed it.
The plan will likely not stand. Based on obvious bureaucratic misinterpretations of existing law, it would unconstitutionally wipe out state laws, legal experts say. It would also spread EPA authority to nitpicking with private citizens and destroying jobs by the thousands.
If by some mishap the courts do not act, Pruitt could.
By the way, he does not say there is no global warming, no matter what propaganda you have read lately. He says scientists disagree about “the degree and extent” of it, and they do. He is off-base on granting too little to human causes, but most scientists agree with him that the consumer-clobbering Clean Power Plan by itself would reduce warming by next to nothing by century’s end.
EPA sins do not stop there. Review various informed critics and you note how, in one instance, the EPA neglected its obligation to assess what turned out to be $9.6 billion in costs to industry and consumers with a regulation that would accomplish very little. In another instance, it decided to stop dangerous mining in Alaska before any scientific demonstration it was dangerous. The agency was also among the negligent in the water crisis in Flint, Mich.
If certain rules on gasoline usage undergo no change, all new cars are eventually going to have to be electric, it is estimated. Some say the EPA makes demands that no current technology can address. Not a few say the EPA has colluded with environmental groups behind the scenes when it was not supposed to. Some argue that, in presenting issues for public comment, the EPA often describes them in misleading ways likely to engender support for a regulatory slugfest.
The EPA itself once caused a toxic flash flood in Colorado, making you wonder if we need a higher EPA to regulate the EPA. The answer is no. We need Pruitt, and, for the global warming issue, we need ideas better than a Clean Power Plan that would do nothing. Trump actually has some. Let’s see what happens.