EPA’s ‘Crucifixion’ of Energy Sector Exposed

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


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The little guys are easier marks. There’s not as much money to be made of course, since one can only squeeze so much juice out of a turnip, but all the Agency has to do is point at the monster settlement it made with the big boys in the target industry and the rest of the peasants are as sure to fall in line as any ancient Turk facing the might of Roman legions.

Need an example? Consider the electric power industry. Starting in 1999 and continuing through present day, the EPA went after coal-fired power plants for allegedly violating certain portions of the Clean Air Act. These complex cases were, in many ways, without real merit in my opinion but it was easier for the big guys to pay what amounted to a tax for daring to operate a coal-fired power plant than engaging in a long, costly legal battle. These cases affected large utilities who operate plants that generate hundreds and thousands of megawatts of electricity.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are the little guys – the local co-ops and municipal utilities that operate small power plants that generate a couple dozen or so megawatts per facility. Some of these local players burn coal. The Obama administration doesn’t like coal. And so, like the heavy in 1930s gangster movie, EPA officials have been calling on these small, environmentally insignificant coal-fired power plants and presenting them with a simple choice: shut down or switch to another fuel, because if you don’t we’re going to come after you, and you’ve already seen what we can do to the big guys. It’s like one of Capone’s boys showing up and darkly observing: “nice power plant you got there pal – it would be a shame if anything happened to it.”

Almost none of this racket is about actual environmental protection. The United States is one of the most environmentally pristine nations in the world and continues to get cleaner every year. No matter. The more we reduce pollution, the more outrageous EPA enforcement becomes. How can it be otherwise? The Agency, the environmental groups whom it answers to and their leftist supporters in Congress use enforcement activity as the primary metric by which the EPA’s successes and failures are judged. As a result, to bastardize Churchill, never in history have so many been fined so much for so little.

Republican Senator James Inhofe announced that he’s launching an investigation into EPA abuse as a result of  Armendariz’s all-too-honest comments. Here’s hoping that something comes of the senator’s efforts. There are a few million of us in the private sector ready, willing and able to bear witness to what has been going on, and the nation will be far better off if Inhofe can help rein in this out-of-control agency.

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  • Ken

    If the American captialist system and industry implode, the EPA will have the biggest hand in it, especially under this administration!! You know the one who said "energy rates woulds necessarily skyrocket". Obama could not get Cap-and-Trade through Congress, so he will do it stealthily using the EPA. Another example of his disdain for the American system of government!!

  • Rifleman

    Osha is the same way, and something many people don't realize is that there's no right to a jury trial with the epa, osha, or irs. The same people who insist terrorists waging war on the USA, and who fall under military law, get civilian jury trials, are fine with denying juries to US citizens in disputes with federal agencies.

  • Spider

    We now have the most anti-business president in history. He makes Jimmy Carter and Woodrow Wilson look like staunch conservatives mainly because he has now allowed gas prices to increase more than any other president. This in turn increases the price of everything. Has anyone been to the grocery store lately? This was Houseins plan all along even he and his political appointees have said so. The EPA is just one of the many anti-business tools he has at his didposal. Why no one took him at his word during the last election cycle is a complete mystery to me.

    • truckwork

      Absolutely.

      What Senator Obama did to Joe the Plumber was the first sign to me that this man was more dangerous than Al Capone. If he could destroy a citizen and he wasn't President, think what he could do with the legitimate power of the Office of the President! And now we know.

      What the EPA did to the Sacketts in Idaho is just a simple example of what these bureaucRATS will do to anyone who crosses their path. I just can't wait for Obamacare! (sarc:off).

  • StephenD

    This is just a precursor to the power that will befall the Health and Human Services Secretary if Obamacare isn't revoked. Kathleen Sebelius will actually have the power to decide life and death issues for American citizens.
    We all recognize the need for rules in order to safeguard our land and ourselves from unscrupulous actors. This doesn't have to take the form of a virtual army nor does it take the mountains of regulations heaped upon American Businesses. It is time to be more American to America. Give us a chance to dig out from the disaster of the last several years. Roll back the regulations to what is necessary only.
    November can’t come soon enough!

  • SoCalMike

    This EPA war against American energy producers has been going on for over 40 years.
    Middle East and multinational oil producers want domestic American competition reduced or eliminated.
    Talk about Oil Whores? The EPA along with Democrats and environmentalists are the best friends multinational oil has. It's amazing Inhofe said anything. Republicans are too afraid to fight because they are cowards without a spine so this won't go anywhere.
    When Alec Baldwin opened his mouth accusing others, he had no clue he was engaging in what Freud called "projection."

  • Marti

    I have screamed and yelled at my Representatives for years about the EPA to no avail.
    The EPA is the biggest job killer in the country, it should be completely defunded and gotten rid of. It has destroyed the lumber industry in the Pacific nortwest and hundreds of jobs in other industries.
    It is now on it's way of destroying the energy industry.The EPA has become Facist in it's dealings. It's time someone cracks down on it and other job destroying agencies.

  • Douglas Southgate

    Pardon the quibble, but Dr. Almendariz's makes a confusing reference to the crucifixion of Turks by Romans. The first Turk didn't set foot in Anatolia until a few centuries after the division of the Roman Empire. The only "Romans" to confront Turks directly were the Byzantines. However, the latter rarely had the opportunity to cement their conquests of Turkish territory by terrorizing the locals for the simple reason that battle lines in Asia Minor almost always shifted against them.

    Dr. Almendariz's comment suggests that he has thuggish predilections. Apparently, he's also unconcerned about displaying his ignorance of history in such a public way.

  • Pyeatte

    Our politicians have betrayed us, and it is time to demand they right the wrong they have unleashed on the freedoms of the American people. When the people have no recourse, history shows they eventually go to guns as their only option. The Congress must gain control over the out-of-control bureaucracies before something bad happens.

  • intrcptr2

    Only problem with his analogy; there were no Turkish villages in the Med when the Romans ruled… (Let us ignore the small fact of Romans not ruling like this in the first place)

    Where in the hell do we find these idiots? And why is it they are the ones we pick to run the bureaucracy?

  • Gilbert EngAmerica

    It is clear the EPA is interfering with businesses. The regulatory overreach that we experience in the US isn't harmful to business both present and future. What is clear is that the lack of a developed and symbiotic relationship between EPA Regulatory policy and Business Operations has not only caused a major divide between the two but has in fact cost both sides time, labor and most of all money to enforce or comply (http://bit.ly/zIfsUf ). Therefore, going forward it would be imperative that each side works with each other to form the best implementation and compliance methods possible. Without the acknowledgement for the need of something like this, we're going to run into problems everywhere we go with the economy.