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EDITORIAL: EPA rules over all

The agency gets an assist from its groupies

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2013

There's a full-court press under way, and it's not just on a basketball floor leading up to the Final Four. The Environmental Protection Agency has joined league with the earth-huggers to smother resistance to their "green" agenda. By colluding with special-interests groups, the EPA has demonstrated the lengths to which it will go to advance the notion that the business of America is environmentalism.

On Friday, the agency announced its proposed "Tier 3" standards for vehicle-tailpipe emissions that would reduce "smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, establish a 70 percent tighter particulate matter standard, and reduce fuel-vapor emissions to near zero." That's only among other effects. Preceding the agency's Web bulletin by nearly an hour, though, the left-wing Union of Concerned Scientists released its own statement praising the EPA's as-yet-unannounced action — an indication of collaborative game-planning. The Environmental Defense Fund demonstrated better clock management, waiting until the agency's notice had been out for 40 minutes before releasing its own hurrah.

Crowd noise is as useful in politics as in sports. Calling forth thunderous cheers from a bench of backers enables the EPA to slam home its message. The agency claims that when the new standards are finalized, additional refining necessary to remove emissions from fuel will add less than a penny to its price and only about $130 to the purchase price of new vehicles by 2025. Oil industry experts left to play catch-up estimate the increased cost would likely range from 6 to 9 cents a gallon and mandate billions for refinery upgrades.

There is nothing illegal about the feds tipping off allies about pending press releases, but other EPA acts have gone a step further. The agency requires large livestock and poultry producers to submit personal information, including phone numbers, addresses and geographical coordinates of their farms, so it can monitor wastewater discharge under the Clean Water Act. An appeals court ruling in 2011, however, concluded the EPA overstepped its authority by lumping into the mandate farms that do not actually discharge wastewater. Despite the judicial smackdown, the agency handed the personal data that had been submitted to environmental groups. The groups had sought it through the Freedom of Information Act.

Rep. Rick Crawford, Arkansas Republican, charged last month that the agency had wrongly released the farmers' personal information to "extremist environmental groups," such as Earth Justice and the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Releasing this type of information makes producers potential targets of harassment, or even bioterrorism," Mr. Crawford said. "Unfortunately, this release of information is yet another example of the EPA's overreach into the lives of hardworking individuals in rural America."

Governing is not a fair game when policymakers use their special-interest allies to attempt to tilt the court of public opinion in their favor. This is one reason Americans say dissatisfaction with government is second only to a poor economy among the nation's largest problems, as a Gallup poll concluded in March. Since every state has its own department of environmental protection, cutting the redundant federal agency with its $8.3 billion budget could help the nation's economy to rebound.

The Washington Times

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