- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s no secret that what was once the Land of the Free is becoming the home of red tape and federal control - especially under President Obama. Things are so out of hand that bureaucrats who are paid to hector citizens into conformity find themselves caught between contradictory enviro-principles. It’s time to dial back the diktats.

In 2009, the Obama administration created the Partnership for Sustainable Communities as a joint effort between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Their joint mission is to push so-called “smart growth” in order to rejuvenate aging inner cities and arrest suburban sprawl. They do so by standing athwart modern progress, pushing trolleys and trains as a substitute for the more efficient and modern automobile. Above all, the administration’s policies must favor the inner city above the needs of car-friendly suburbs.

The EPA’s 600-employee Region 7 office in Kansas City, Kan., did not get the memo, apparently. The office is preparing to move from an urban location downtown to a “more green” building located next to a wheat field 20 miles out of town in Lenexa, Kan. The relocation could result in a three-fold increase in carbon-dioxide emissions as employees who now get to work by bus or on foot will be forced to commute in their own cars and SUVs.

The prospect for an increase in the EPA’s own carbon footprint hasn’t gone unnoticed by the neo-Druid groups that back everything else the agency does. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) points out that the move would increase the present monthly emissions of transportation-related carbon dioxide from 0.39 metric tons to 1.09 metric tons per month. “How the hell did EPA administrator Lisa Jackson sign off on this?” asked Kaid Benfield, the NRDC’s director of sustainable communities and smart growth.

The agency claims it had to move in order to find a more energy-efficient workspace. The present digs - custom-designed by agency bureaucrats - were state of the art in 1999. Yet the Kansas City building lacks trendy new labels like a “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” rating. The building owners have offered to upgrade to meet the new standards, but the EPA would rather move.

The new site was recently the headquarters for Applebee’s restaurants. Constructed in 2008 as a green palace, the site’s design features minimize interior warming from sun exposure, courtyards collect rainwater, urinals operate without water and a pond out back allows ducks to frolic.

Chagrined Kansas City officials say moving to the pricey, $121 million, 10-year lease in the suburbs will yield no net energy savings. Even EPA admirers are put out, contending that the building rating system is faulty because it fails to factor in the environmental impact of occupants’ transportation requirements. Consumers frequently find themselves restrained by nonsensical requirements foisted upon them by the regulatory bureaucracy. As EPA muddles through the maze of contradictory rules of its own making, Americans can take some satisfaction in knowing that the regulacrats for once are getting a taste of their own medicine.

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