The Government Greenpeace

National unemployment rates may be high, but there’s no shortage of work if you happen to be an academic type willing to conduct Environmental Protection Agency-funded research and undertake EPA directed studies. Last October, the EPA formally began the process of creating new stormwater management rules. We’ve actually got quite the pile of stormwater management rules already, including measures crafted during the Clinton administration and then implemented during the Bush administration. But, having never met a regulatory program that went far enough for her tastes, EPA head Lisa Jackson took one look at a report prepared the National Research Council that reviewed the Agency’s stormwater management programs and fell in love. This will come as a shock, but the NRC committee that looked into the issue – a committee consisting mostly of academics – concluded that new stormwater regulations are desperately needed.

The NRC’s recommendations are troubling, but entirely typical of what happens when a group of professors get together to decide how to run the world. It should be noted up front that I did not read the NRC’s report in full, since the organization charges the public more than forty bucks to purchase copies of this study, notwithstanding that it is being used to set public policy. No doubt the full report contains a number of hidden gems, but the Executive Summary, which NRC kindly allows citizens to download for free, provides enough of a peek behind the curtains. If Jackson’s EPA follows the NRC’s advice – and history suggests that Jackson generally takes the most radical environmental advice available – then there are more rules coming, more restrictions on your lives and, of course, more tax dollars that need to be redistributed. If you think that using the adjective “radical” to describe the advice Jackson is getting from NRC is a bit over the top, don’t take my word for it. Here’s how NRC describes what is needed in their Executive Summary:

“Radical changes to the current regulatory program (see Chapter 6) appear necessary to provide meaningful regulation of stormwater dischargers in the future.”

What kind of radical changes appear necessary? How about having USEPA use its licensing authority to place further restrictions on the formulation and use of even more consumer products? Quoting again from the Executive Summary:

“EPA should engage in much more vigilant regulatory oversight in the national licensing of products that contribute significantly to stormwater pollution. De-icing chemicals, materials used in brake linings, motor fuels, asphalt sealants, fertilizers, and a variety of other products should be examined for their potential contamination of stormwater. Currently, EPA does not apparently utilize its existing licensing authority to regulate these products in a way that minimizes their contribution to stormwater contamination. States can also enact restrictions on or tax the application of pesticides or other particularly toxic products. Even local efforts could ultimately help motivate broader scale, federal restrictions on particular products.”

In other words, if a product is used outdoors or is part of a machine that is used outdoors, like your automobile for example, it needs to be regulated, restricted and possibly taxed. Just what an ailing economy needs. What could possibly go wrong? It’s easy to imagine some well-meaning EPA committee deciding that tire residue left on the street, to take one example, helps deteriorate stormwater quality. Ergo, the EPA should come up with standards for tire wear. Of course such standards might make tires more expensive, but that’s not EPA’s problem; they’re here to save a planet or two. Or perhaps such standards would unintentionally lead to more blowouts, but that will be the tire manufacturer’s fault, not EPA’s. Of course I don’t know if any of this is going to happen as far as tires are concerned, but that kind of thing will inevitably happen somewhere when EPA sticks its nose into the free market. It always does. The EPA is Exhibit A when it comes to demonstrating the timeless truth that is the Law of Unintended Consequences.

NRC also believes that another layer of bureaucracy is necessary to better manage stormwater. They believe that stormwater permitting should be “watershed based,” a proposal that would essentially create a new regulatory authority in between the local agencies that already have jurisdiction over stormwater and state and federal agencies charged with overseeing their programs. How to pay for more rules and more bureaucracy? The federal government ought to pour more money into these programs of course.

The regulated community isn’t quite as fired up about NRC’s recommendations as is Lisa Jackson. Many members of the regulated community recently commented most unfavorably about these proposals. Their comments are part of the USEPA docket covering a proposal to start gathering information in anticipation of formulating new rules. Ironically, the regulated community offering damning comments in this case doesn’t consist of evil corporations, it’s rather made up of the organizations that are currently responsible for stormwater management which, like the EPA itself, are units of government. The question of whether one regulatory agency can regulate so much so as to offend fellow regulators has thus been answered in the affirmative. The National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) commented on EPA’s proposed Information Collection Request (ICR) wondering, among other things, why EPA was abandoning the Phase 1 and Phase 2 stormwater management practices that have been put into place already. From NAFSMA’s comments, dated December 23, 2009:

“In addition to our comments on the specific elements of the ICR, NAFSMA must express its strong concern that EPA’s announced intention to promulgate a substantial change to the Phase I and Phase II stormwater program, based on this ICR, constitutes a breach of the current regulations and the program evaluation agreement reached through the Stormwater Phase II Federal Advisory Council Act (FACA) in which NAFSMA was an active and involved participant with three of our members involved throughout the process.”

That’s from an organization representing almost one hundred state and local stormwater management agencies, serving about 76 million people. Many comments in the docket from individual agencies themselves are similarly critical, of both the approach the EPA is taking and the manner in which it’s approaching the issue. I can’t recall the last time local environmental agencies were this critical of their federal counterpart. That ought to tell you something about what’s happening in Lisa Jackson’s EPA. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of the EPA, but then I have to work them, so my perspective is a tad jaded. Still, while no friend of industry, the EPA has traditionally blunted most of the worst excesses that extreme environmental groups would otherwise foist on America. No longer. There’s little to distinguish between Greenpeace and Lisa Jackson’s EPA.

When pressed, you can usually get an honest, informed environmental advocate to admit that our air and water actually got cleaner under George W. Bush’s administration, as they have under every administration since Nixon’s. The problem they say, such as it is, is the Bush didn’t “go far enough.” That’s a political argument, not a scientific one, because no Republican president can ever “go far enough” to satisfy the environmental movement. Bush’s EPA promulgated regulations reducing mercury emissions from power plants on a massive scale. It wasn’t enough. Bush’s EPA faithfully followed George H.W. Bush’s wetlands restoration policies, such that we had many more wetlands when W left office than when he first took the oath of office.

It wasn’t enough. It’s never enough. Most veterans in the EPA understand the politics involved and take that kind of criticism with more than a few grains of salt. Lisa Jackson appears to have swallowed the most extreme environmental activist arguments whole and, mostly unnoticed by both the press and policy-makers, has unleashed a series of crippling initiatives that will do untold damage to the nation’s economy at a time we can least afford it.

  • poptoy

    I am beginning to think this part of the Kenyans plan to demolish the economy then destroy this country.

  • Hammer

    I'd write more, but I'm busy burning styrofoam…

    • Gary Rumain

      But you're not inhaling, right?

      • Rifleman

        I don't inhale the burning syrofoam until the pink elephants disappear. Gotta keep them dancing.

        • Gary Rumain

          And remember – save the cigar for later.

  • Gary Rumain

    EPA – Enviro-mental Pollution Advocates?

    • Rifleman

      That explains why they want to screw mercury bulbs in every light socket (and landfill)in America.

      • Gary Rumain

        Well I say Screw Them!

  • Peterk

    well if the EPA has read the NRC report then you should be able to FOI it

  • WarKingRoy

    To me, the EPA disclosed itself as Evil years ago, when it banned the burning of leaves – an ages-old custom and the best way (aside from creating a compost heap that could attract rodents and other pests) to dispose of them. Not to mention, it was nice to have that smell in the air (YES! We used to inhale the scent of burning leaves, as well as the delicious, comforting scent of burning wood from fireplaces, and guess what? We're still here!!!).
    The best thing this country could do to help itself is to get rid of the EPA. Barring that, let's hope Jackson is replaced by someone more rational before she can do too much harm.

  • Daniro

    Most perceptive Americans have already awakened to this administration's implementation of the radical, Saul Alinsky's ideas to destroy American free markets and capitalistic system… "Overwhelm the system" and let it implode. Spend more than we can ever pay … overwhelm business with oppressive regulations that make it impossible to make a profit and thus make it impossible to stay in business. In short, destroy the American values that made it great! But, "We, the people", have an opportunity to drive these maniacs out of office this year! and

  • Stephen_Brady

    We must do away with the EPA, along with numerous other federal agencies … agencies that clearly exceed their Constitutional mandate … if we are ever to come close to restoring the Republic, and saving the future for our children and grandchildren.

    To quote the "X-Files", we have to "Fight the Future" (there are even aliens involved here … illegal ones, of course). The idea that a single person, at the head of the EPA, can heavily regulate thousands of legal products, tax them, punish companies that make them, is beyond the pale. Add to this the looming VAT tax, and America is in for a world of hurt.

    • environmentalist

      "Clearly exceed their Constitutional mandate?" Mass v. EPA. Numerous states fight for the right to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act(A part of the constitution for you republicans who only look at your right to bear arms) after EPA DID NOT regulate them. It was determined by several states that the EPA was not doing ENOUGH.
      "Saving the future for our children" Now is that the future where you climate deniers have exhausted all of the natural resources, polluted all the rivers and sky, and have destroyed the ability to grow enough food? Last I checked the future for MY children, the children of a generation who was not too cowardly or too ignorant to take on Climate Change, is no longer up to you anti-EPA, anti-environmentalism cracks.

      • Stephen_Brady

        And why do the states fight for the right to regulate CO2 "under the Clean Air Act"? Because it's a mandate that's destroying their economies.

        By the way, I've looked all over Constitution, and for the life of me, I haven't found the Clean Air Act in it, anywhere. If you could please point this cowardly, ignorant, anti-EPA, anti-environmental, global warming denying "crack" to the provision written into our Constitution by the Founders, perhaps you could enlighten me …

  • Federated Republic

    Everyone pinhead in political office with (D), for Demoncrat, needs to be voted out of office, from the local dog catcher to the jackanapes currently befouling 1600 Pennsylvania Ave! We must first politically castrate the Demoncrats and then start on the Republicans!

  • American


  • freedom fighter

    I believe I have reached and surpassed the high water mark of patience with these destroyers of freedom.