The EPA's phony 'environmental justice' caper

The agency’s real agenda: empire, control, and inverted justice for poor and minority families.


Guest essay by Paul Driessen

When it comes to energy, climate change, justice and transparency, the Obama Administration and its Environmental Protection Agency want it every possible way. Their only consistency is their double standards and their determination to slash hydrocarbon use, ensure that electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket,” expand federal government command and control, and “fundamentally transform” America.

The president was thus eager to give away Seal Team secrets in bragging about “he” got Osama bin Laden. But in sharp contrast, there has been no transparency on Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal – or the data and analyses that supposedly support Environmental Protection Agency claims that “dangerous manmade climate change” is “not just a future threat; it is happening right now.”

That rhetoric made it sound like EPA’s Clean Power Plan was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, in July EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy made it clear that her initiative “is not about pollution control.” Rather, it is an “investment strategy” designed to spur renewable energy.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) opined that the agency does not have “explicit statutory authority” to steer investments toward “green” energy. Perhaps so, McCarthy replied, but her actions are legal under the Clean Air Act and within the agency’s ever broadening purview – as are EPA’s attempts to expand its mission and oversight authority by emphasizing “sustainable development” and “environmental justice.”

The ironies abound. Wind, solar and ethanol power were intended to address “imminent oil and gas depletion” that ended with the hydraulic fracturing revolution, and prevent “global warming” that ended some 18 years ago. Now “investment” in these “alternative” energy technologies primarily involves greenback dollars taken from hard-working taxpayers and delivered to crony corporatists and campaign contributors who want to earn fat profits from climate scares, renewable energy mandates and subsidies.

A 2010 report suggested that EPA should begin to examine how it might “encourage the development of sustainable communities, biodiversity protection, clean energy, environmentally sustainable economic development and climate change.” Talk about an open-ended invitation to control our lives. A few weeks ago, EPA proclaimed “environmental justice” as yet another new cause celebre. The agency claims low-income groups are “disproportionately affected” by airborne pollution, and therefore it must tighten air quality standards yet again. The results will likely be a perverse opposite of true justice.

The agency’s own Urban Air Toxics report chronicles a 66% reduction in benzene levels, 84% in outdoor airborne lead, 84% in mercury from coal-fueled power plants, and huge reductions in particulates (soot). “But we know our work is not done yet,” McCarthy said. “At the core of EPA’s mission is the pursuit of environmental justice – striving for clean air, water and healthy land for every American; and we are committed to reducing remaining pollution, especially in low-income neighborhoods.”

Most air quality and health experts say America’s air is completely safe. That’s why EPA pays its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and the American Lung Association millions of dollars a year to say otherwise. It’s why the EPA, CASAC and ALA refuse to discuss the $353 billion in annual regulatory compliance costs that EPA alone imposes on U.S. businesses and families (out of a total federal regulatory bill of $1.9 trillion), according to Competitive Enterprise Institute studies.

Those costs mean too many people lose their jobs. Their hopes, dreams, pride and work ethic are replaced by despair and dependency. If they can find new work, they are forced to work multiple jobs, commute longer distances, and spend greater portions of their incomes on gasoline and electricity. They suffer greater sleep deprivation, stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse, and poorer nutrition and medical care. More people have strokes and heart attacks; more die prematurely.

EPA’s new 54.5-mile-per-gallon standards mean cars are lighter and less safe in accidents. That means more people suffer severe injuries or get killed. Minority and other poor families are especially at risk.

Every one of these impacts is also a matter of environmental justice. But EPA chooses to ignore them.

Moreover, nothing in the law says EPA has a right to declare that it intends to seek “justice” by drawing a line between poor people and other Americans, all of whom have a stake in clean air. McCarthy’s language is more befitting a rabble-rouser than an agency administrator who is supposed make decisions based on science – not on emotions, politics, or racial and class divisiveness.

EPA’s climate and environmental policies appear destined to become even more insane. Just two months after calling climate change “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction” – and amid radical Islamist chaos and conflagrations across the Arab world – on September 3, Secretary of State John Kerry actually said “Muslim-majority countries are among the most vulnerable” to climate change. “Scriptures,” he claimed, make it clear that Americans have a “responsibility” to prevent this calamity.

McCarthy’s environmental justice claims also appear to be based on an ugly premise that undergirds many Obama Administration policies: that low-income people are victims and businesspeople are guilty of doing irreparable harm to their health and communities. (At least business people who are not aligned with Obama and don’t support liberal/Democrat agendas and candidates are guilty.)

Such sentiments pit low-income and working-class Americans against businesses. They are a divisive throwback to the 99% versus 1% protests. They ignore the fact that Mr. Kerry, climate politics bankroller Tom Steyer, and President Obama and his fundraiser dinner companions are all part of the 0.1 percent.

These sentiments also ignore the fact that businesspeople create jobs, give workers opportunities to earn a living for themselves and their families, and develop the employment and life skills to successfully climb the socio-economic ladder. Any company that violates environmental, health, safety, tax and other laws is penalized civilly or criminally – whereas all too often the regulators themselves escape any accountability or liability for accidental, incompetent and even deliberate actions that hurt their fellow citizens.

Ms. McCarthy’s statements also reflect the lengths to which EPA will go to continue expanding its reach and grow its bureaucracy. The agency cannot admit that it has nearly won the battle against dirty air, because thousands of government regulators could lose their jobs. (Never mind the millions of Americans who lose their jobs because of EPA regulators and regulations.) To protect its legions of workers, justify its massive taxpayer-provided budget, and expand it many times over, EPA continues to move the goal posts, by invoking environmental justice, climate change and sustainability – for which there can never be objective goals and achievements, but only political considerations and subjective “feelings.”

Apparently Ms. McCarthy embraces the ideology that ignores the benefits of affordable energy and of a robust economy that creates jobs and opportunities. In her view, government controls are paramount, even when they stifle self-reliance, creativity and entrepreneurship, destroy jobs, harm human health and welfare, and cast low-income Americans as perpetual victims.

As Congress of Racial Equality national chairman Roy Innis emphasizes in his book, Energy Keepers / Energy Killers: The new civil rights battle: access to abundant, reliable, affordable energy is essential for individuals, families and communities that want to improve their lives and living standards.

Jason Riley puts it just as forcefully in his new book, Please Stop Helping Us: How liberals make it harder for blacks to succeed. Blacks must “develop the habits and attitudes that other groups had to develop” to improve their lives, he writes. The real secret to rolling back black unemployment and poverty is to change a culture that has allowed too many black children to grow up without the benefit of a father in the home, and that scorns black intellectual achievement as “acting white.”

Environmental protection should never be an “us vs. them” mentality. Such attitudes divide us, rather than bringing us together to improve our nation and world for everyone’s benefit. Ms. McCarthy should base environmental policy on sound science – and check her phony justice rhetoric at the door.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

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September 8, 2014 12:02 pm

Mission creep

Reply to  Gregory
September 8, 2014 12:13 pm

…or, Mission Lunge.

Reply to  Gregory
September 8, 2014 1:06 pm

Creep mission.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Harold
September 8, 2014 4:42 pm

Creeps on a mission

Richard C
September 8, 2014 12:16 pm

Epa is exactly as Mr. Driessen states.. Defund and remove from control of all but an advisory panel…They were intended just for that originally not a law making or enforcement November

The other Brad
September 8, 2014 12:17 pm
Kevin Kilty
September 8, 2014 12:18 pm

All of the ineffectiveness, expense, illogic, and mission creep that accompanies bureaucratic solutions to problems becomes clear if only one recognizes that public entities and their employees seek to maximize their self-interest.

Village Idiot
September 8, 2014 12:21 pm

[snip Koch is off-topic -mod]

September 8, 2014 12:34 pm

Thank you for writing and publishing the article. Green is costly to small and medium-sized enterprises, thus, destroying the American dream.

September 8, 2014 12:41 pm

I have to say that the conspiracy theories don’t just hack it for me.
I am gullible enough to think that the politicians (and then the MSM) in the past convinced themselves that CAGW was real and now don’t know how to admit that they got it wrong.
But I’m just a simple sailor who can only deal in the truth, since if I don’t people die, and I don’t know how to deal with folk who don’t think that way.

September 8, 2014 1:00 pm

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t and shouldn’t mention the environment
The combination has been tried in the past – it gave birth to ‘Lebensraum’ the last time. Same country where ‘Der Hexenhammer’ was published.

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
September 9, 2014 6:01 am

actually the Malleus Maleficarum (HexenHammer, Hammer of witches) was written in Selestat, Alsace (now part of France) and first printed in Basel (now part of Switzerland), and of course has nothing to do with LebensRaum.

Jaakko Kateenkorva
Reply to  paqyfelyc
September 9, 2014 2:09 pm

Thank you for that. Following the same trail of thought, the little mustache guy was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary. So, all is well.
In the meanwhile an important German car-manufacturing hub, Baden-Württemberg, has been governed by Greens since Fukushima tsunami. Electricity there cost multiples than on the other side of the border in Selestat already before. Now when Gerhard Schröder’s Nord Stream AG pipeline project faces sudden uphill battle and the IPCC recommended nuclear is in offside, perhaps the locals give the green light to build new brown coal plants. Nuclear is cleaner, but the energy choice is internal affairs as long as it’s kept that way. Angela Merkel is chemist. What do you think is her excuse?

Alberta Slim
September 8, 2014 1:19 pm

All part of Agenda 21…………..
To hell with science and/or the truth. Obama-et-al are part of the plan for a NWO [New World Order]

Reply to  Alberta Slim
September 8, 2014 3:36 pm

Yes I agree, Agenda 21 has hoodwinked Goverment Departments Into believing ‘Heaven on Earth’ ruled by the few.
Most of the E.U. Government and local Government are trying to Impose ‘Agenda 21’ policies on the people.
It’s like these people see themselves as ‘Gods’ and In the begining they say,”LET THERE BE A COMMON THREAT TO MANKIND”(Fanfare) and then Enters the CO2 Myth.
No mention of Freedom, just control, just like every-other Dictator trying to Impose their ‘Utopia’ on others.

E Martin
September 8, 2014 1:21 pm

Except possibly by a lawsuit, the only way this can be corrected is to vote out the politicians that appoint and enable renegade administrators such as McCarthy. We have to do much more than merely define the problems.

Mike H.
Reply to  E Martin
September 9, 2014 5:40 pm


September 8, 2014 1:27 pm

Thaks for the essay . This “mission” by this government needs to be exposed on a daily basis and needs to be a platform for the lesser of 2 evils (GOP) in the elections, But the GOP needs to have everyting on the table if they become a one platform issue they will lose again.

September 8, 2014 1:28 pm

sorry, THANKS

September 8, 2014 1:44 pm

Abolish the EPA. Instead we can create a corps of real ecologists with scientific skills rather than activsts and cranks!:]

Owen in GA
Reply to  David G
September 8, 2014 2:07 pm

The problem is real scientists will get tired of the bureaucracy and seek employment in private industry or academia. Then they will be replaced by the activist scientist and we will be right back where we are.

September 8, 2014 2:02 pm

The discovery and use of hydrocarbon fuels is the most important advance mankind has, and will continue to experience.
The list of benefits far outweighs any disadvantages, both proven and imagined.

mark wagner
September 8, 2014 2:02 pm

I’ve always said that increasing mileage standards is a death tax on poor people who cannot afford a heavy vehicle. Literally being taxed to death.
In 2012 my wife and I rolled our SUV 3 times down a 60ft embankment and walked away. A poor person in a camry would have gone to the hospital or worse.
When the dealer asked what kind of vehicle we wanted to replace it with, I said “one that weighs 6,000 pounds.” He said “I understand.”
In the battle of heavy SUV vs smart car, physics wins every time.

Reply to  mark wagner
September 9, 2014 11:23 am

Poor person in a Camry? Depends on your definition of poor.

mark wagner
September 8, 2014 2:09 pm

Oh. And my $11 LED light bulb will pay for itself in electricity savings in a little over 11 years. It’s only on 4 hours per day.
Except that I just had to replace my $11 LED light bulb 2 years into its stated 25 year lifetime.
Now it will NEVER pay for itself.
A 60 cent incandescent would have been a better value, except I can no longer buy one.
Another disguised tax on poor people.

James the Elder
Reply to  mark wagner
September 8, 2014 4:23 pm

Your local Home Depot or online. 60W $1.82 a 4 pack. Stock up.

Svend Ferdinandsen
September 8, 2014 2:28 pm

Would it be time to use the precautionary principle against EPA. They have to prove that their regulations do not make any harm. In resent time it has been used without taken care of eventual benfits, you only look at some imagined or invented harm, which is always possible to find.

September 8, 2014 3:20 pm

Who runs the country? Government agencies or the House & Senate?
Anyway the race card has worked for almost 50 years so why not keep on using it?

Mike T
September 8, 2014 3:35 pm

It’s not so much weight of vehicle that’s a factor in motor vehicle safety, rather it is size. Tiny cars put the occupants closer to the part of the car being deformed in an accident. Plus electronic devices such as vehicle stability control and ABS increase safety (primary safety- avoiding the impact in the first place). It’s entirely possible to have a larger car that is relatively light through the use of specialised metals (for example, hydroformed high strength steel). It’s a furphey to suggest that poor people will suffer more road trauma because they can only afford small cars; in reality they buy old cars, which in the US, tend to be large. There’s a reason relatively few people own enormous SUVs outside of the US- they are expensive to own, a pain to drive in the city, and a nightmare to park. Plus, they get awful fuel economy (even in diesel versions) and are largely restricted in Australia to the specialist market of towing large caravans and fifth-wheelers around the outback, since, in this country at least, there are mandated limits to tow weights.

Ralph Kramden
September 8, 2014 3:48 pm

This has nothing to do with science or the environment, it’s billionaires using the government and especially the EPA to make even more money from climate change. We beat the “military-industrial” complex in the 60’s and we can beat the “climate-industrial” complex today.

September 8, 2014 3:55 pm

Whenever I see the words “[something] justice”, I know it is the very opposite of real justice. Environmental justice, racial justice — these are always double-speak. It is always about getting your way as you see it. That is not justice, it is about perverting justice.

September 8, 2014 4:05 pm

The Republican controlled House controls the money….they could defund the EPA. Why don’t they? Obviously they vacillate for political reasons….there is an election you know.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  latecommer2014
September 8, 2014 4:50 pm

A funding bill de-funding the EPA would never make it to the floor of the Senate as long as Dirty Harry rules. Then, and until the Republicans have a Senate majority, it would just be cheap political ammo for Democrats that Republicans want dirty air and water. A better strategy is to wait until you can send the appropriations bill to the President’s desk defunding various parts of the EPA’s agenda. That bill would be part of a broader appropriation funding the US government. If Obama vetoed it, he would be shutting down the US government.
And that is the reason the President is so desperate to do whatever dirty tricks he can to keep Dirty Harry in charge of the Senate. The Obama tricks will also only get worse as the election gets closer.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 8, 2014 8:23 pm

It wouldn’t take a “de-funding” bill — the House merely has to refuse to pass a funding bill. If nothing gets passed, we win. latecommer is right.
The real answer is that only the true Tea Party members are on board with us. The GOP establishment still think they can win by out-Democrating the Democrats. That to me would be a completely Pyrrhic victory, so I refuse to vote for it.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 8, 2014 9:51 pm

To control something, you must first win at the ballot box.
The House cannot defund anything one thing as Cruz tried in Oct 2013. It was a losing proposition since Obama was willing to make the shutdown hurt everyday Americans more than Democrats.
Win elections, then you can change the course. This November must remove the Democrats grip on the Senate.

NZ Willy
September 8, 2014 5:20 pm

Much like racketeering — which used to be crime but I suppose nowadays they can selectively choose not to enforce it. These environmental regulations often (if not always) have unintended consequences. A small example is our newish dishwasher which doesn’t have the heating element of old — uses less power, you see. But now about half of the load doesn’t get dry. So what new product is on the market now? Yes, a chemical additive to add to the dishwasher detergent to expedite the drying. We don’t buy this, of course, but others do — so hello new chemicals, and is the production, distribution,and waste-treatment of these new chemicals being factored into the carbon-saved calculation of the new low-energy dishwashers? (that was a rhetorical question)

Reply to  NZ Willy
September 8, 2014 5:42 pm

In our house the dishwasher is sluggish.But the wife puts up with me.

September 8, 2014 7:19 pm

I wonder if this “justice” that the EPA is aiming at is the same “justice” that has put the black unemployment rate at 11+%, twice that of the white unemployment rate and about 50% higher than the unemployment rate for Hispanics. Of course, Obama’s policies are not to blame for this, at least according to his most loyal constituency.
The EPA will impose similar “justice” on the black population in terms of energy costs and their unfortunate trickle-down effect. It’s the rich who can most easily afford higher energy costs, and the poor who will be most adversely affected . . . and they call this “justice”.

Brian H
September 9, 2014 12:53 am

The odds that McCarthy will check her rhetoric, at the door or anywhere else, are of course infinitesimal. It is now her raison d’etre.

September 9, 2014 1:53 am

The EPA cannot stop, it can only be stopped.
We say the same here in Europe about our out-of-control EU commission.
Ultimately they both will be stopped (in Europe, possibly starting with the UK referendum in 2017; in the US, only after the African King is gone), but as long as we let them get away with it, they will continue to inflict damage upon us under the pretence of Doing Good (TM).

September 9, 2014 2:27 am

You actually make it seem really easy with your presentation but I
find this matter to be really one thing which I believe I might never understand.
It sort of feels too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking ahead in your next publish, I will attempt to get the hold of it!

Ann Banisher
September 9, 2014 9:14 am

If CO2 is the most dangerous weapon on the planet, it would seem irresponsible to be building more of these ‘renewable’ energy sources like wind turbines. Not only are they inefficient, they make the standby power sources more inefficient – which causes them to release more CO2. On top of that, the CO2 saving are discussed in life cycle costs, whereas in reality all the CO2 involved in production is released now (103 tonnes of stainless steel, 402 tonnes of concrete, 6.8 tonnes of fiberglass, 3 tonnes of copper and 20 tonnes of cast iron for a 1MW turbine -exclusive of transmission lines and access roadways).
Therefore, a massive increase in renewable energy would result in a increase in CO2 in the short term.

Michael C. Roberts
September 9, 2014 9:31 am

As I have followed the EPA in the USA (from a professional work perspective) over the years, taken and given training courses in the rules and regulations, and watched the real (and mostly beneficial) effects in the construction industry from the regulations (building demolition/asbestos/lead paint control) – regulations that were new at one time have become a normal part of the construction cycle (along with the OSHA worker protection rules). Industry has adjusted; exposures to harmful materials that were largely ignored in the past have now been reduced and systematically removed from availability – all to the good (I say this partly because the industry created through these regulatory changes – the environmental consulting industry – has been putting food on my families table since 1986, but also that those past exposures/harmful medical outcomes were largely unnecessary). However, since the EPA has been used as a tool to suppress certain industries and advance others, through regulations that have minimal relationship to actual harm – think carbon dioxide and coal use control regulations – I mentally have drawn the line. Overreach? I have heard that accusation thrown at the EPA many times over the years in this industry (the asbestos/lead paint control industry). Yes; certain rules and regulations may initially appear onerous (and they are when compared to old ways of doing business); but when backed with epidemiological data, replicated time and again in separate studies they become sound science (remember that method?). CO2? Picking winners and losers in industry, controlling resources, all according to a political aim? Is this what the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked to do???? This exemplifies the real issue that most who oppose the bypass of congress to impose political agendas have…the straying of identifying real environmental issues, studying them until facts regarding the issues (usually, chemical, aerosol; or substances that are harmful to human health and the environment) can be established; and when rules have been proposed, a real cost to benefit comparison be done to see if and where the good will outweigh the cost – precautionary principle be damn-ed!

Pieter Folkens
September 9, 2014 9:52 am

“Environmental Justice” is Maurice Strong’s term.

September 9, 2014 10:48 am

The mechanisms of control of industry were established by the permitting process established for the EPA. Now that the low hanging fruit has been controlled, particulates, SO2 and NOx, the environmental community cannot abandon that power and have proceeded to exert control over ever smaller amounts of emissions that vanish in to the background concentrations of the planet. So now CO2 is the excuse being used to remake the power industry into their own image and achieve other political goals in the meantime.
At some point you reach the destination and the train must stop.

Kevin R.
September 9, 2014 6:11 pm

Environmental protection should never be an “us vs. them” mentality.

The constitution prohibits congress from passing Bills of Attainder wherein a legislature adjudicates the guilt of a party and awards punishment. If a congressionally created agency adjudicates guilt and punishment it’s really the same thing as a Bill of Attainder. Though not in name it is the same thing in spirit and it violates the separation of powers. Law needs to be objective and everyone needs to get their day in court to face their accusers and have them prove that actual real harm has been caused to actual real human beings.
It’s quite obvious why there is a constitutional prohibition on this.

September 10, 2014 2:43 pm

This post way too too “2-party politics” for me.

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