Washington, D.C., can sometimes be a mystery to those who do not regularly breathe its rarified air. The recent elections are a case in point. Given the shellacking that many of the Washington mavens took last November for advancing such truly controversial ideas like ObamaCare and "cap and trade," one might think they now would be at least moderated, especially since both are credited with historic power shifts in the Congress. Wouldn't it now make sense to ease up on the throttle a little?
Well, apparently not to the White House's appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite the Senate's 2010 rejection of a deeply-flawed cap-and-trade program that would hamstring America's manufacturers as our economy begins to recover, tireless political appointees are seeking to accomplish by regulation what Congress plainly chose not to do legislatively.
Oftentimes, government regulations can be a good thing. Generally, that occurs through a transparent process of comprehensive cost/benefit analysis where divergent opinions on science, economics and technologies are distilled into a workable consensus. Unfortunately, an unprecedented avalanche of pending and final rule-making on greenhouse emissions is barreling toward unsuspecting Americans, overwhelming the deliberative process.
The EPA has decided to regulate carbon emissions despite Congress's rejection of climate legislation. Although a boon for bureaucrats, these new regulations will add great expense to families and businesses, where trillions of dollars and millions of jobs hang in the balance. Ironically, these regulations will not solve this global issue.
What happens if sweeping new regulations are unleashed upon entrepreneurs, small businesses and everyday Americans? Under this regulatory blizzard, American companies will endure significant domestic cost increases, even as they face unfair competition from nations like China, where there are no comparable regulatory costs for Chinese emissions.
But here in America, EPA's bureaucrats are usurping congressional responsibility and prerogative to legislate. Fortunately, some in Congress are aware of this ill-timed bureaucratic overreach, and want to stop it. The House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., is introducing the Energy Tax Prevention Act. His measure does not affect EPA's traditional ability to protect the environment, but clarifies that the agency may not impose cap and trade by its creative reinterpretation of the Clean Air Act.
Legislation to check this regulatory overreach is gaining traction on both sides of the aisle and deserves the support of Utah's congressional delegation.
With our fragile economy just starting to recover and gasoline prices skyrocketing because of the turmoil in the Middle East, this is no time for expensive new EPA regulations to further burden Utah consumers and businesses. Congress is right to set EPA's bureaucrats straight.
Lee J. Peacock is president of the Utah Petroleum Association.