Among the top priorities for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker-to-be John A. Boehner must be finding ways to stimulate the economy while being faithful to conservative principles, especially promises to cut back government.
One of the best places to look for changes that meet this criterion is regulatory overreach. And there is a big overreach taking place at the Environmental Protection Agency just begging to be reigned in - EPA’s attempts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
We have heard many pundits and politicians say that unemployment is staying stubbornly high because of economic uncertainty about what costs government might inflict on business. Any firm using significant amounts of energy to produce or transport its products has much to fear from the unknown (likely draconian) regulations the EPA is rolling out in the name of stemming climate change.
It’s not just employers who are uncertain about rising costs from EPA greenhouse-gas controls - consumers also are facing higher prices. Americans struggling to make mortgage and car payments and to feed and clothe their families don’t need to have their heating and air-conditioning bills, commuting costs and costs of purchasing major appliances increased by unelected bureaucrats at the EPA.
So how can Mr. McConnell and Mr. Boehner and the class of 2012 take decisive action to regain control of the climate-change issue? A good way to begin this process would be to revive a very simple Senate joint resolution proposed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, that narrowly missed passage in June (47-53).
The Murkow-ski joint resolution was barely two pages long and simply said: “Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to the endangerment finding and the cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act (published at 74 Fed. Reg. 66496, Dec. 15, 2009), and such rule shall have no force or effect.”
OK, so “simply” may be too generous a term, but the resolution is short, and its meaning is clear to the bureaucrats at EPA. It means: “Congress did not intend to give you authority to regulate greenhouse gases when it wrote or when it amended the Clean Air Act; cease and desist from your efforts to do so.” Members of Congress can put on their “big boy pants” and decide whether or not to pass legislation to address the issue.
This month’s election sent a clear message to Congress and the White House that we want to get our economy moving again. To most voters, this also means “less government,” not “more.” A Murkowski resolution redo would stimulate hiring and consumer spending by quickly removing the cloud of future regulation-induced higher energy prices hanging over this economy. It also might provide the opportunity to eliminate federal spending for unneeded employees at the EPA.
Kenneth W. Chilton is interim director of the Institute for Study of Economics and the Environment at Lindenwood University.
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