Taming the EPA Regulatory Hydra: An essential first step

Foreword by Paul Dreissen

In recent years, the US Environmental Protection Agency published over 25% of all pages of regulations issued by all federal government agencies, including 13 of the 28 most costly rules. In fact, EPA has been responsible for half of all costs imposed by federal regulations on American businesses and families – often for few or no actual environmental, health or welfare benefits.

The Trump Administration has taken important steps to rein in this Regulatory Hydra. However, another anti-business, hyper-regulatory administration could reverse those gains, especially because a single Administrator runs an agency that has shown a penchant for exaggerating risks and hiding or ignoring any scientific evidence that questions its claims and proposals.

In this 2-part series, environmental and regulatory expert Bill Kovacs presents insights into the problem and offers simple, practical steps that can be taken to ensure that EPA does not revert back to its old habits. Among the most important, the single administrator should be replaced by a five-member commission that will always have minority members with access to the same facts and science as what is used by those supporting regulatory overreach. That alone would help ensure the discussion, checks and balances that have long been missing in this process.

Taming the EPA Regulatory Hydra: An essential first step

In America’s most powerful, intrusive and costly agency, power resides in one administrator

William L. Kovacs

Since President Trump’s election, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has turned off its massive regulatory printing press. The nation is still here, there have been no man-made environmental catastrophes, and job creation is quickly growing now that the business community is not under the daily fear of another regulation that will slash its profits, force it to lay off employees or put it out of business.

So far, so good. However, if America is to continue its job creation activities, it needs to continue the Trump Administration’s balance between environmental protection and creating jobs and growing businesses. Unfortunately, in the future another anti-business president could be elected.

If the current administrative process and EPA’s organizational structure remain the same, the new, anti-business president could quickly stop economic progress by issuing many billion-dollar regulations that again freeze business activity, while imposing huge extra costs on consumers for everything they purchase from cars, to light bulbs, to housing – once again for little or no health or environmental benefit.

While President Trump ordered EPA to begin deregulatory activity, those efforts take years. To repeal a regulation, the agency must go through the same administrative process it went through to produce the initial regulation.

The Trump administration has started to revise the three most costly regulations: Waters of the United States, the Clean Power Plan and automobile mileage standards. This effort will last well into third or fourth year of the Trump administration – and then the lawsuits will begin. Equally important, while we need wholesale deregulation at EPA, it is likely that this administration will only make a dent in EPA’s historic overreach.

The almost fifty-year history of the EPA regulatory process is like the mythological “Hydra,” a monster with many heads; when one was cut-off, two more grew back. Such an aggressive regulatory process crowned EPA as the most aggressive regulator in history.

EPA alone has published over 25% of all the pages of regulations issued by all the agencies of the Federal Government, and almost twice as many as the much-derided IRS. Of the 28 most costly regulations issued in eight years by the Obama administration, EPA issued 13 of them.

This situation places those seeking a long-term, rational regulatory process at EPA in a quandary. Determining what can be done to tame this monster is a complex undertaking, because stopping new regulations in one administration does not prevent many more regulations from being issued in another.

However, considering EPA administrators of the past, the first change must be to ensure that no single person in the United States government can exercise the massive powers wielded by those past bosses. Such powers determine who gets a permit to operate, and who does not; what technologies a business must use; what lightbulbs are available for your homes; what gas we can buy; what chemicals can be used; where companies can mine; what local land use decisions will survive; and even where a pond can be built on private property.

While the President of the United States has massive powers over war and peace, and sets the operating philosophy of federal agencies, the EPA Administrator has direct power over the business operations … and thus the economy … of the entire nation.

EPA makes the environmental rules we live under. It is the fact finder who determines if we are breaking the rules, the prosecutor of all alleged violations – and the administrative judge who makes the findings of fact, interprets the law, and permits or punishes our actions.

It’s frightening when you think about it how much power one person can have over our lives. Yet, we don’t think about it until the agency wants to “get us.”

How should we restructure EPA to ensure the agency can still protect our environment – while controlling the massive amount of power exercised by one individual?

Several mechanisms would tame this hydra. Perhaps the most important and most effective would be converting EPA from an Executive Branch agency to an independent agency directed by five commissioners: three appointed by the party holding the presidency and two from the other party.

This commission-style agency would limit the power to act by requiring that any final regulation be approved by a majority of the commissioners. While an anti-business president would still appoint a majority of anti-business commissioners, the minority commissioners would have access to all evidence and decision-making documents, and could file dissenting opinions on all final decisions.

These dissents would allow discussion of the flaws in the majority’s reasoning – including facts, science, economics, costs and benefits.

Under the current regulatory process, there is only EPA’s final rule and a record that can run hundreds of thousands of pages. While the public is allowed to comment, the courts usually uphold EPA’s decision if it is “rational,” meaning the agency can point to some part of the record that supports its reasoning, and can conceal or ignore any parts that do not support its reasoning.

Dissenting opinions would ensure that the reviewing court sees the flaws in the majority decision. This would be invaluable for good policy making, since the minority commissioners could also review and present all the science and economics used by the majority. That would enable the minority to keep an out-of-control agency in balance.

Historically, EPA has not provided all the scientific studies and models to the public for review, analysis and comment. Having access to these documents would allow minority commissioners to point out not just flaws, but also deceptions, concealed facts and data, and hidden agendas.

Other actions would enable EPA to bring focus and coordination to the 13 separate statutes it administers, largely in the absence of any mission statement or meaningful congressional direction.

Those steps will be discussed in Part 2 of this article.

William L. Kovacs was active in national policy issues for over 40 years, as a senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs for a major business trade association, a chief counsel on Capitol Hill, chairman of a state environmental board, and a partner in several Washington, DC law firms.

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August 18, 2018 7:43 am

“the single administrator should be replaced by a five-member commission that will always have minority members with access to the same facts and science as what is used by those supporting regulatory overreach. That alone would help ensure the discussion, checks and balances that have long been missing in this process.”

Brilliant idea….please forward this suggestion to President Trump !!


Reply to  Marcus
August 18, 2018 11:04 am

I’m not enthused about that idea, just because someone is in the Republican party (majority or minority status), doesn’t mean they don’t share progressive ideas from the Democrat party. Some progressive Republicans can be just as bad as a Democrat on a committee as suggested above. The EPA should be limited to interstate waterways and (begrudgingly) large industrials that can emit large amounts of air pollution that could waft across state borders. But the state should be charged with policing inside their own borders.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  MikeH
August 19, 2018 6:07 am

I agree MikeH….Dr. Jay Lehr, Heartland Institute’s Chief Scientist, who was instrumental in the structure and founding of the EPA in the 70s advanced a plan that got the EPA out of the DC Swamp–emphasis on local control–a better plan. I’m not able to link the plan to this website ( what’s up MODs ) go to Heartland.org website as it is easily downloadable and clearly a superior re-organization.

Reply to  Marcus
August 18, 2018 1:56 pm

To name just one example where this approach has been a dismal failure one only needs to look at the history of the National Labor Relations Board. Board membership is divided 3-2 politically with terms that extend beyond one presidential term thus insuring that carry-overs from the previous administration continue to make policy. There have been several instances where either a resignation or the expiration of a board members term has occurred when one party controls the Senate and the other the White House. The party controlling the Senate refuses to consider Presidential nominees preferring to leave a stalemate at the top of the NLRB to having a 3-2 majority from the other party.

Reply to  Marcus
August 19, 2018 3:37 pm

it needs to be pulled up by the roots like any weed. the epa needs to be abolished.

Reply to  Marcus
August 19, 2018 5:07 pm

No five member commission…. What really should be done, is NO regulation should ever be put into force until each proposed regulation gets an up or down vote in the house and senate and signed by the President. The EPA should NOT be allowed to write it’s own laws (actually it should be unconstitutional for EPA to write laws… only congress was given authority to write and pass laws). Also, each regulation needs to be voted on separately as a stand alone bill…. no attaching to spending bills or other must pass bills.

Greg Woods
August 18, 2018 7:49 am

There are more than two parties. How about a libertarian point of view?

Reply to  Greg Woods
August 18, 2018 8:01 am

Maybe when they get more than 3.27% of the vote ?

Reply to  Marcus
August 18, 2018 12:53 pm

That’s due to the belief that if you don’t vote for a Republican or Democrat, you are wasting your vote.
Not to mention all the laws the Republicans and Democrats have added to hinder the growth of third parties.

Reply to  MarkW
August 18, 2018 8:43 pm

while I am a small l libertarian, the party with the capital L is loony toons. For the basis of a foreign policy to be “there are big oceans, we don’t have to worry with all that, here have a joint” is beyond dopey. I tend to vote for Republicans from the libertarian wing of the party in the primaries and against the socialist in the general election.

Reply to  OwenInGA
August 19, 2018 4:07 pm

For the basis of a foreign policy to be “there are big oceans, we don’t have to worry with all that, here have a joint” is beyond dopey.

Many thanks for the smile this chunk of wisdom-humor brought to my face.

I tend to vote for Republicans from the libertarian wing of the party in the primaries and against the socialist in the general election.

We might think similarly.

I always vote for the lesser of two evils that can win the election. Otherwise, by default I vote for the greater.

Ron Long
Reply to  Greg Woods
August 18, 2018 10:43 am

I prefer “The Rents Too High” Party.

Reply to  Greg Woods
August 20, 2018 10:00 am

Greg, was that it?

steve case
August 18, 2018 7:58 am

Second hand smoke was an over-reach. The way it was done was full of cherry picking and lies. And as I recall, the lawyers got billions.

Reply to  steve case
August 18, 2018 9:04 am

On the other hand it sure made flying and eating in restaurants a lot more pleasant, less stressful, and easier on clothes.

Reply to  Fernando L
August 18, 2018 9:40 am

Actually it has made aircraft a bit less safe and bit less efficient.
All pressurized aircraft cabins leak. Its usually not serious and only occurs at the panel joints where sealant isn’t working as intended or is missing. This causes the aircraft to constantly top off the cabin pressure which draws from power which could have otherwise been used elsewhere. If the leaks become sizable enough to become a structural issue or pressure loss is eating up too much fuel the leaks are searched for and corrected. Smaller cracks are not so easy to find.

When smoking was allowed, all these leaks were very easy to find as there were little soot streaks at each one. The leaks could be found, corrected quickly and more often.

Be careful what you trade for comfort .

Terry Harnden
Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 10:56 am

Nothing is simple or easy to solve especially with so many simpletons in positions of power.
snIntelligence and Experts
The the remember everything (that has been fed to them) understand nothing Class (Politicians, Lawyers, Judges, Reporters, Professors, Teachers , Economists, Doctors ) are smart and do very well but are very seldom intelligent because they let that skill atrophy or fall into the know everthing expert trap

An expert is someone who learns more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.
An Expert is someone who has quit learning or understanding and because he knows everything therefore does not have to understand anything.

Reply to  Terry Harnden
August 18, 2018 2:05 pm

I remember an old saying from long ago and far away: An expert is a drip under pressure. I don’t remember the context but I do remember I heard that when I was serving in the military — Perhaps about the same time and place when I first heard that Guam was prone to tipping over and sinking due to an imbalanced overload of military hardware that was being stored and staged on one end of the island for transhipment to Southeast Asia.

Reply to  Tom
August 19, 2018 1:51 am

Expert , noun
ex is a has been, and spurt is a big drip under pressure

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 11:04 am

I think you have a point there, but it is not about leaks. When one could smoke on airplanes, they obviously HAD (sorry for the trumpyism) to renew the air in the cabin on a constant basis; left without that incentive, they decided that we should breathe the same air over and over again, breathed upon, farted upon, provided there was still enough oxygen in it…
ps : I smoke but that has nothing to do with the topic.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  François
August 18, 2018 12:07 pm

When you could smoke on aircraft, they put the smokers at the back of the cabin. Air is pulled from front to back. There was a seat number (flexibly assigned) behind which smoking was permitted.

I did see one guy on an SAA flight reprimanded for smoking a cigar. They smelled too much. Only ciggies.

Duane Johnson
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
August 18, 2018 2:33 pm

They also wouldn’t allow pipe smoking. I once tried to beat the system by rolling my own cigarette using my pipe tobacco. They made me put it out, and offered me regular cigarettes to smoke.

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 11:17 pm

They can’t find the leaks by over pressurizing the cabin slightly on ground and using smoke signals?

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  rocketscientist
August 19, 2018 6:10 am

How about testing without passengers being inconvenienced?

Reply to  Fernando L
August 18, 2018 12:54 pm

In other words, your convenience is more important than other people’s rights.

Reply to  MarkW
August 19, 2018 12:49 pm

Define “rights”.

Reply to  u.k.(us)
August 20, 2018 10:06 am

what an experienced person uses when the opponent continuously drops their guard.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Fernando L
August 20, 2018 10:39 am

Hard to disagree with the airplane issue. Allowing smoking in a small confined environment that you can’t leave for hours on end is just a bad idea. I think most restaurants could accommodate smoking without annoying non-smoking patrons. That all said, I wish they would treat perfume the same as smoking. For me, perfume is generally a bigger irritant than cigarette smoke, especially when it is applied heavily. I’ve had to leave restaurants that would not allow me to move when they sat someone next to me that had taken a perfume shower, even after I started sneezing and my eyes began to swell shut.

Michael Darby
August 18, 2018 8:13 am

Since 1971 Western Australia has endured an Environmental Protection Authority. The EPA is an innovative organisation, and two of its innovations are pretexts to refusing applications to mine: troglofauna and the principle of intergenerational equity.

August 18, 2018 8:41 am

The EPA played a significant role in the banning of DDT and its lack of availability worldwide and therefore a significant role in the death of millions from malaria in the less developed tropical countries of the world. Bureaucrats are invariably only concerned with the survival of their organization and its growth irrespective of what the purpose of that organization might be. Organizational behavior 101.

Reply to  JimG1
August 18, 2018 10:48 am

I recently ran across a paper in the Journal of Wildlife Management (1948. Vol. 13, no. 4) blaming “DDT oil spray” (5% in fuel oil) on the killing of Philippine fishes. I think I saw something like this with toads, and wonder how much the carrier was responsible but DDT was blamed. DDT is toxic, especially to Arthropods, but oil can smother and was used by itself to kill aquatic insects. Dispersants are proving more toxic than the oil. It’s not simple.

August 18, 2018 8:41 am

This is his Big Idea:
“converting EPA from an Executive Branch agency to an independent agency directed by five commissioners”

Put the agency out of the reach of presidential administration.
Put the agency out of reach of oversight by congress.
Create an agency of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to make laws, accountable to no one.

Would somebody give this idiot a copy of The Declaration of Independence, please.
One of the big complaints:
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

The cure:
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”

You Bet.
“They tried to take our guns. We shot them.”

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  TonyL
August 18, 2018 12:11 pm

“Create an agency of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to make laws, accountable to no one.”

Well, that’s one point: they don’t make laws, they make “regulations”. As a regulatory agency they can just look around for additional things to regulate.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
August 18, 2018 1:02 pm

True, they do not make laws, they make “regulations”. As one agency administrator explained, their regulations are not laws, but have the force of laws, complete with civil and *criminal* penalties. But they are not laws. (and I have a bridge to sell you)

The federal government has no constitutional power to make regulations. All power to make laws resides within congress and it’s elected representatives. Also, the constitution explicitly forbids congress from delegating its lawmaking authority. The Founding Fathers were clear that all lawmaking power must be retained by *elected* representatives who are accountable to the People.

So how did Washington “square the circle”?
Way back in the day, all the new rules and regulations would be bundled up into a single piece of legislation and attached onto some “must pass” bill like a budget bill, as a rider. Then the rules and regs would be passed into law. This gave a fig leaf of constitutional legitimacy to the regulations. I do not think congress has bothered with this little charade for a long time.

Reply to  TonyL
August 18, 2018 12:57 pm

The president still appoints the commissioners.
Regardless, the true power remains in the bureaucracy, and that has always been beyond the reach of presidents.

Reply to  MarkW
August 18, 2018 1:13 pm

That was the whole point in creating the Civil Service in the first place.
What happened next is a cautionary tale of why power should be ceded to bureaucrats very carefully and sparingly, if at all.

August 18, 2018 8:44 am

Hmm…a 5 man “Supreme Court of Science”?
How are they selected? Appointment? How long will they serve? At the pleasure of the current administration?
…oh yeah…no politics involved there.

Sounds like another “bell-the-cat” solution.

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 8:57 am

True….the same people that complain the gov can’t run anything…
…are all for letting the gov run their lives

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 9:06 am

Its not a proposed supreme court of science, it would be more like the Federal Trade Commission. I think the idea is really good.

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 9:12 am

…oh yeah…no politics involved there.

The point of the constitution is that there are checks and balances. No one branch of the government should be able to act alone without oversight from the other branches. That does involve politics.

The alternative is to let experts run everything, much like they did in the glorious USSR.

I’ll take politics.

Reply to  commieBob
August 18, 2018 9:46 am

The point is that if we presently only need to go through 1 contentious EPA Administrator appointment approval, quintupling the problem doesn’t sound more efficient to me.

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 11:16 am

Efficiency? Really? Compare the incremental cost of extra hearings for “contentious EPA Administrator appointment approval” versus billions of dollars of business costs associated with unjustified regulations.

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 12:58 pm

Efficiency was never the intent of the founders.

Reply to  MarkW
August 18, 2018 1:08 pm

Strangely, efficiency may be the result. A little oversight goes a long way to keeping the government from spending money as fast as it likes.

{sarc} Think of the money we could save if we fired all the congress critters and vested all their powers in the President. We could save even more money if we only held a presidential election every thirty years. {/sarc}

Our system, as goofy as it looks, has been remarkably successful and efficient when you compare it with the alternatives.

Reply to  commieBob
August 20, 2018 6:38 am

But… You’re a COMMIE!

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 20, 2018 10:05 pm

On most issues I can be relied on to come down somewhere between Tommy Douglas and Ron Paul.

August 18, 2018 9:31 am

In America’s most powerful, intrusive and costly agency,…”

Sorry but that ignoble distinction goes to the IRS.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 18, 2018 2:38 pm

Great men strive for perfection, only fools demand it !

August 18, 2018 9:57 am

I cringe at the reliance on governmental institutions to get much correct.
IMHO governmental bureaucracies have the intentions of “Andy Griffith” but the conduct of “Barney Fife”.

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 18, 2018 10:04 am

Or the Midas touch in reverse, not gold but fecal material.

August 18, 2018 10:03 am

Regulatory agencies are in business to…write regulations. If they cannot or do not do so, they go out of existence. So consider the built-in bias.

Reply to  jimB
August 18, 2018 10:07 am

So the proper answer is to kill the agency and let the States take care of the problems, if any. Multi-State agreements can be used if and as necessary.

Reply to  jimB
August 20, 2018 6:40 am

“So the proper answer is to kill the agency and let the States take care of the problems, if any. Multi-State agreements can be used if and as necessary.”

Then we end up with 50 Californias, each with their own idiosyncrasies. Can’t imagine trying to run a multi-state business like that.

Reply to  jimB
August 19, 2018 6:29 am

Most of the work should be in environmental monitoring and reporting, so hire people to do only that, making regulations could/should be done elsewhere.

August 18, 2018 10:11 am

Make Gas-cans Great Again.
…and dish washers too.

A regulatory announcement from the EPA came in 2007:
“Starting with containers manufactured in 2009… it is expected that the new cans will be built with a simple and inexpensive permeation barrier and new spouts that close automatically.”

In the regulatory speak, gas cans are referred to as “Portable Fuel Containers” or PFC’s for short.
PFC’s bought in the USA have since 2009 had a terrible designed nozzle contraption in an attempt to prevent fuel vapor escape by using a spring loaded open/close system that requires the nozzle to be forcefully pressed downward. The idea for this lunacy originated with California’s Air Resource Board (CARB), and the EPA followed along like a good little sheep on this nanny-state idea from the Land of Fruits and Nuts.
In short these nozzles end-up spilling far more gasoline, and thus vaporizing, than a properly fitted older-style simple nozzle and vent release. Thank you EPA and the the California Air Resource Board for this piece of regulatory stupidity against a simple, effective design that worked for a century.

More on the origins of the gas can nozzle stupidity can be found here:

On dish washers, if you have purchased a dishwasher since 2012, you will probably note that most do a terrible job of getting glasses clean. This is because the Federal govt decreed that had to use less water, and thus they end up rinsing the dishes and glasses with dirty water repeatedly, like that will somehow make them cleaner. In 2012, regulations from Obama Regime decreed Dishwashers had to use less than 5 gallons/wash, with a mandatory compliance date for all new dish washers of 31May 2013.

comment image

With these new dish washers, glasses usually come out with a film on them, and utensil silverware frequently still has food stuck on it. When that happens, and just like low flow toilets that don’t completely flush, people end up washing them again, completely defeating the original intent.
The final 2012 rule is here:

In 2015, the Greenies were at it again, and tried to get DoE to lower it further to 3.1 gals/wash. The push back from the consumer appliance makers was so hard that DoE abandoned this effort.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 20, 2018 6:43 am

Yeah, I bought a second 5 gal gas can for my riding mower (got a bigger mower, uses more gas), and the new one had this idiotic valve, and no side handle so you could hold it more easily with two hands. The valve broke in less than a year. Now it’s stuck open. Good job EPA!

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 20, 2018 10:00 am

Try using those gas cans on a motorcycle. Complete disaster.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 20, 2018 10:35 am

I don’t know if they did it on purpose, but the old spouts do not fit on the (my) new gas containers.

I thought I would be able to just through away the new nozzle and use the old one. Nope.

Is there any rational person that can defend the gas spout valve requirement?

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 20, 2018 10:49 am

These new gas cans don’t work at all with the new anti-siphon fuel filler necks installed on many new cars, so if you want to keep an empty gas can in your trunk just in case your wife runs out of gas, use an old one. I threw out the one that came with my new 5 gallon gas can and replaced it with an electric pump retrofit since I only use it to fuel up my garden tractor. Much easier to use and a lot less gas spilled.

Rhoda Klapp
August 18, 2018 10:18 am

They will take over any five (or n)-person panel, given time.

Reply to  Rhoda Klapp
August 18, 2018 10:38 am

Decision making by committee though would slow the process considerably, as it has for the FCC and FEC for example. On the otherhand, a committee would also slow the roll-back process when a new administration comes in, like with Scott Pruitt at EPA coming in and wiping out many Obama era plans (WOTUS, CPP, etc) in less than a year. But the big thing a committee would do is increase transparency, as all members of the committee would have equal access to the information, even if the minority gets steam-rolled in 3-2 votes.

August 18, 2018 10:18 am

Whatever solution is agreed to Congress must still have oversight. Congress must be given the authority to demand answers and if the EPA refuses to provide answers then Congress needs to be able to punish the administrators. A few months behind bars should focus their minds sufficiently.

Taylor Pohlman
August 18, 2018 10:37 am

I would go along with this idea (Commission) if all regs costing the economy in excess of some threshold (say $1B) required a super-majority (4 out of 5 or maybe 5 out of 7) to go into effect. Essentially, any massive reg would require bipartisan support.

Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
August 20, 2018 6:45 am

I would only support it if the decisions made by the committee were then required to pass through congress. No unelected lawmakers.

John Garrett
August 18, 2018 10:54 am

Overturning the CO2 Endangerment Finding would be a truly wonderful thing.

Is it too much to hope for?

August 18, 2018 11:00 am

EPA has 15,000 employees. That should be cut in half for starters.

J Mac
August 18, 2018 11:13 am

Adding more heads to the EPA hydra is the solution???

I’d rather see the following items implemented:
1. Cut the EPA budget by 50% and legislatively lock it there, with no inflation escalator. Force the EPA administration to focus on priorities, improved efficiency, and a streamlined organization.
2. Require economic analyses (cost, benefit, loss) for any proposed rule making.
3. Require the economic analyses to pass independent review and certification before rule making is allowed to proceed.
4. Require all supporting science to demonstrate a testable hypothesis subject to repeatable results.
5. Require all supporting science to pass independent review and certification that it met the testable hypothesis and repeatable results requirements before rule making is allowed to proceed.

Reply to  J Mac
August 20, 2018 6:46 am

I applaud your list, but I fear that, in the case of CAGW, “independent” would be about as independent as the Hockey Team.

August 18, 2018 11:18 am

Consider a zero-based budgeting approach. Start from zero and add what you really need.

That may be the only way to trim this EPA hydra monster. Cut of ALL its heads and start again.

August 18, 2018 11:40 am

The EPA should be closed and the power distributed to state environmental agencies.

The one lesson of the EPA (and the UN) is that power concentrated in one place is a magnet for totalitarians and self-righteous utopian ideologues, their evil twin.

States are all now well-situated to care for their own environments; something they were not in 1970 when the EPA was created.

States and citizens are now very environmentally conscious. It’s become part of our culture. Every state now has formal enforcement agencies and citizen watchdog groups.

If Federal regulatory law is necessary let Congress pass a general provision, and let the states enforce it.

Interstate disputes can be settled in Federal courts, including cease-and-desist injunctions against acute polluters in a neighboring state.

The Federal Attorney General can join forces with states as necessary to litigate against large corporations that violate across state lines.

The EPA is no longer needed. It’s been almost nothing but partisan and often consciously dishonest.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Pat Frank
August 18, 2018 12:15 pm

The self-righteous argument fallacy:

I thought of something I want to do.
I am a well-intentioned person.
Therefore what I am going to do will be beneficial.

George Daddis
Reply to  Pat Frank
August 18, 2018 2:24 pm

The oft used argument against individual states addressing the problem is that it would be inefficient, a duplication (times 50) of effort to compose regulations.

One solution, that was effective in the past, is to limit the Federal agency to only writing model laws that the states could adopt if they chose. In this proposal, the Feds would NOT be allowed to tie the granting of Federal funds to whether or not a state followed the model.

Examples of this massive misuse of tying Federal dollars to Federal guidelines started with highway safety recommendations (e.g. speed limits and seat belts); the Feds couldn’t legally set speed limits on state or county roads but by withholding funds, they were the de facto regulators.

We all are aware of how they subsequently used that tactic to take over school curriculum that was supposed to be the responsibility of local school boards.

In fact we should encourage maverick states; try a variety of options and let best one win! Rational states would then adopt the better option.

Reply to  George Daddis
August 18, 2018 8:10 pm

The same argument could be used to argue that we should get rid of all state, county and city governments. Lets have one law that applies to everyone everywhere.

Efficiency and freedom are incompatible concepts.

August 18, 2018 12:09 pm

The EPA destroyed my small tech startup. We developed a small, incredibly efficient, long life and reliable natural gas/propane engine to power emergency infrastructure. It used gallons per day, not gallons per hour of LP to power stoplights for 10 days straight without refueling or oil fill. When we began development, we relied on a letter from the EPA stating that our application was not regulated under the Clean Air Act and we were free to proceed. Our little motor only produced 1.3 lbs of NOx total over its entire lifetime, so it really wasn’t worth regulating. But, as we got deeper into development, we found out that the Obama EPA had decided that IT could regulate ALL sources, regardless of size, under the CAA (whose wording had not changed). They demanded we meet requirements for testing and documentation the same as huge generators, doubling the cost of our motors with testing and paperwork alone. Then at the end, we got a letter from the EPA stating that because we were so small, we needed to give them $500,000 up front, just in case they ever needed to fine us. And it we sold a single unit before that, they would fine us $42,500 per piece. Our entire business plan was based on a launch customer who needed 50 units, enough to pay for our entire development expenses. But we could not sell, ran out of money and gave up, fired everyone and went home. Even our congressmen could not stop the EPA.

Reply to  William
August 19, 2018 10:35 am

You have my sympathy. The difficulty is that bureaucrats are never, under any circumstances, wrong. Very occasionally, you can point out an action of such galactic stupidity that they have to admit that they were wrong. In this case they will spend 20 times the effort in justifying their actions rather than correcting the errror.

Reply to  RCS
August 22, 2018 6:39 pm

We never ONCE had contact with an EPA employee… they were all contractor lawyers, even the head of the small engine certification department (yes, they have a separate dept for that).

August 18, 2018 12:26 pm

How about something simple such as a requirement that, say, any new EPA regulation must be able to result in a measurable 1% improvement within 5 years of implementation?

Almost all the low hanging fruit in pollution fighting has been picked in the last 50 years and most new regulation is about how many dancing angels you can kick off the head of a pin.

Reply to  Lokki
August 18, 2018 8:11 pm

The problem is that the agency arguing for the regulation will also be in charge of gathering the information to determine if the regulation was successful.

EPA scientists have been caught planting fur from endangered species in areas that they wanted to make off limits to development.

Reply to  MarkW
August 18, 2018 11:10 pm

People like you have respect for some entities, like the CDC.

It’s a mystery.

August 18, 2018 12:26 pm

In other environmental matters:

I recently received another prestigious award for averting the potential sour gas disaster at Mazeppa. I call it “My Handsome Mug.” It was accompanied by this heartfelt inscription:

“Thank you Allan on behalf of the 250,000 people and critters that are alive because of, and are totally unaware of, your principal and effective actions- but I am!

Admiringly, Helen” 🙂



August 18, 2018 7:21 pm

principled, not principal

chris moffatt
August 18, 2018 4:26 pm

I don’t agree. Bureaucracies being the self-promoting and ever-growing organizations they are, there is no way the EPA won’t be politicized again – even if it becomes depoliticized under the present regime. The only course of action is to abolish it. Since it was established by presidential fiat it should be able to be abolished by presidential fiat, regressive left judges notwithstanding. After all their remit is law not bureaucratic regulation unless that regulation contravenes law – congressional or constitutional.

Of course the corrupt lawyers, rot them, will have all kinds of objections as they now have to other regulation abolishments, eg illegal immigration. Good grief these weasels even approved torture and said it was legal in face of a constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments. I think Shakspere had the right of it – “first we kill all the lawyers”.

Reply to  chris moffatt
August 18, 2018 8:13 pm

It was established by presidential fiat, unfortunately it was later substantiated by law.

August 18, 2018 11:19 pm

Tell me again why the line by line veto violates the Constitution… and the EPA doesn’t.

Cardin Drake
August 19, 2018 5:45 am

This Hydra will always be out of control unless Congress acts. They need to amend it’s charter so it can only suggest regulations, which must then be passed by Congress, like any other law. Otherwise, any new President will be capable of reanimating the beast.

August 19, 2018 5:56 am

For all federal regs, if Congress
1) changes the burden of proof to one of neutrality rather than the current one which has a court merely look for any rational relationship of the reg to the underlying statute; and,

2) provides for attorneys’ fees to those who successfully challenge, in whole or in part, a reg.; and


Then, IMHO, we will see a dramatic decline in federal over-reach.

August 19, 2018 11:31 am

Of course creating a new commission would require Congressional action. I would strongly suggest that the problems with the EPA and other federal agencies is the lack of Congressional action up until now. Congress could reign in EPA and other agencies. For example, taking CO2 off the list of pollutants. Sure it would be a nasty battle but it would mean there would be a public debate and those in American not familiar with the tyranny of EPA and other agencies would soon be.

I staffed or was liaison to more than a couple of committees/ commissions. I saw no real benefit and certainly not better rule making. In fact what I witnessed was a CYA situation. As a friend use to say, “Damn it, when God created the heaven and earth he didn’t form some dang committee.”

The fundamental problem in federal agencies is no matter how skilled, creative, etc the Administrator or Secretary might be the “we-bes” thwart in real change. It is nearly impossible to fire anyone in a federal agency, as we have seen recently in DOJ, FBI and IRS. The overwhelming majority of federal employees are liberal to leftist Democrats. They are protected by both Civil Service and public employee unions but also by “friends” in Congress. Consider how hard Congressional Democrats fought against revising personnel rules for the Veterans Administration.

old construction worker
August 19, 2018 1:31 pm

There could be one thing he could. Enforce Date Quality Act with transparency of scientific studies that the EPA use to justify regulations.

August 19, 2018 3:35 pm

if we don’t abolish the epa it doesn’t matter. you can limit it all you want now, when the next administration, or the next, or the next comes into power all they have to do is rewrite the regulations. as long as the epa exist it will always have the potential to create damage. with all fifty states having their own epa’s there is no reason to have a federal epa. it needs to be abolished.

David S
August 19, 2018 4:37 pm

Following the preamble, the very first sentence in the Constitution says: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Note there is no mention of the EPA or any of the other alphabet soup of Federal agencies. Yet the EPA passes rules which carry the force of law. If we the people allow this erosion of our constitution we end up with laws created by unelected and unaccountable federal bureaucrats. That’s tyranny. We need to put a stop to it.

August 19, 2018 4:55 pm

What really should be done, is NO regulation should ever be put into force until each proposed regulation gets an up or down vote in the house and senate and signed by the President. The EPA should NOT be allowed to write it’s own laws (actually it should be unconstitutional for EPA to write laws… only congress was given authority to write and pass laws). Also, each regulation needs to be voted on separately as a stand alone bill…. no attaching to spending bills or other must pass bills.

August 20, 2018 1:29 pm

The EPA, changed the way styrofoam is made, then it fell off of the space shuttle’s fuel tank during launch, damaging the insulating tiles on the orbiter, we know how well that turned out.

August 20, 2018 6:21 pm

The liberal courts will stop any attempt to roll back unconstitutional regulations created by the last administration. I’m sure liberal courts in other countries will do the same.

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