Pace of EPA Regulations Slows, But the Stakes Only Get higher

By March 31, 2014Economy, Energy

On March 19th the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report saying that the pace of regulations being put out by the EPA “has slowed considerably” since 2011. The paper, titled “EPA Regulations: too Much, Too Little, or on Track?” says that this is in part because the agency has finally been able to address much of the backlog accrued during the Bush administration.

However, the report goes on to point out the host of major regulatory actions still under way that have drawn heavy criticism from industry groups as well as bipartisan concerns from Congress. This is because while the overall number of regulations has decreased, the scope of the current rules being considered is unprecedented.

The pending major regulations highlighted in the report include the treatment of coal ash, the NAAQS for ozone, and of course the standards for new and existing power plants. These are all issues on which the NAM has urged the administration to take a moderate approach due to what will undoubtedly be a major impact on manufacturing and our nation’s economy.

Also presciently mentioned in the report was the “Waters of the United States” rulemaking, which was issued just a week after the CRS report came out. EPA’s attempt to expand their jurisdiction over various waters has been strongly opposed by the NAM. Under this newly proposed rule many seasonal and ephemeral water flows and artificial tributaries, including impoundments and wetlands, with even a remote connection to adjacent to or near downstream waters, will be subject to the Clean Water Act. Senator John Barrasso called the proposal “a massive federal power grab that will cost land owners, ranchers and small business owners thousands of dollars in permitting fees and compliance costs.”

While it may be true that the EPA is issuing fewer regulations, they are more than making up for it with the supersized rules sitting in the hopper. The EPA may not be coming up to the plate as often, but when they do they swing for the fence.

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