Tag: regulatory reform

A Loophole Big Enough to Drive Environmental Justice Through

From the President’s Jan. 18 executive order, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” Section 1, General Principles of Regulation:

c)  In applying these principles, each agency is directed to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible.  Where appropriate and permitted by law, each agency may consider (and discuss qualitatively) values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts.

Thus, any rational cost-benefit analysis can be tossed out the window if Executive Branch agencies prefer to make their decisions on subjective political and ideological reasons. Distributive impacts? You can justify the entire  program of the “environmental justice” movement using that rationale.

The EPA is already headed down that capricious regulatory path. Glenn Lammi of the Washington Legal Foundation recently explained how the EPA could circumvent the regulatory process to push the anti-growth and redistributionist priorities of the environmental justice advocates. From “Activists Work to Inject ‘Environmental Justice’ Concept into All EPA Actions and Beyond“:

 The issue injects a touchy subject into the controversial realm of environmental law and policy.  Invoking the broad and amorphous concept of environmental justice (“EJ”) – which equates “disparate impact” (rather than intentional acts) with discrimination – affords activists a highly effective new way to demonize free enterprise and demagogue the building of new business facilities and the award of pollution emission permits….

As explained in a [July 2010] cover memo to EPA employees, the Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action is a “step-by-step guide [to] help EPA staff determine whether actions raise possible environmental justice concerns,” which will allow EPA to “explicitly integrate environmental justice considerations into the fabric of EPA’s process for developing actions,” according to a  which accompanied the guidance.  Agency “actions” include, “rules, policy statements, risk assessments, guidance documents, models that may be used in future rulemakings, and strategies that are related to regulations.”  In other words, essentially everything that EPA does on a daily basis.  The document’s two sections are a thorough roadmap on how EPA bureaucrats can weave a seemingly infinite number of EJ “concerns” into their  decisions, moves which can create a great deal of discomfort for regulatory targets challenging EPA future actions.

Because, unless until the courts act, the EPA would be the ultimate authority deciding what’s fair, equitable or respectful of human dignity. And creation of private-sector jobs? Too many negative distributive impacts!

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Circumnetting the President, Business and Regulations

Wall Street Journal, “Obama Courts Business Support“:

Among the rules targeted by business and trade groups are proposed EPA regulations governing ozone and greenhouse-gas emissions, and emissions from industrial boilers; a Transportation Department rule limiting trucking-industry working hours; and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that could require factory owners to install comprehensive noise-reduction technology, instead of issuing protective gear for workers.

“We want to take full advantage of this opportunity to encourage the administration to change course on a variety of proposals,” said Rosario Palmieri, vice president of regulatory policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

Greenwire, via New York Times, “Obama Issues Executive Order to Cut Red Tape“:

Obama has recently reached out to businesses, meeting with corporate CEOs last month to ask how the government could help them create jobs and rebuild the economy. Industry groups were pleased by today’s announcement.
(continue reading…)

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Can You Believe President Obama is Asking Business about Regulations?

From President Obama’s Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System“:

As the executive order I am signing makes clear, we are seeking more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve the same ends—giving careful consideration to benefits and costs. This means writing rules with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens.

Why, why, even lobbyists might be able to comment. Outrageous!

OMB Director Jack Lew doubles down on the President’s message, writing in a blog post:

[We] need to follow a smarter, more effective approach to regulating to ensure that these necessary protections work without stifling America’s growth and competitiveness. We believe that it is particularly critical now, as our economy continues to recover and create new jobs, that our regulatory strategy be as evidence-based, predictable, cost-effective, and carefully targeted as possible to enable American businesses to continue to grow and innovate.

Just turning the Administration’s regulatory process over to Big Business. It’s unconscionable.

Earlier coverage…

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Manufacturing in State of the State Addresses: Colorado

Colorado’s new governor, John Hickenlooper, did not use the terms “manufacturing” or “industry” in his first State of the State address on Thursday, Jan. 13, but he started the speech by recalling how he and other investors overcame difficulties to create a successful Colorado Springs brewery. In other words, Gov. Hickenlooper began his speech by talking about using his experience in business and manufacturing to make larger points about Colorado, its economy, and the state’s challenges.

Almost 20 years ago to the day, a person who knew that I loved old buildings coaxed me down 70 miles south of here to look at the only registered historical landmark in downtown Colorado Springs. It was scheduled for demolition. I bought that building from the bank, but despite previous successes in Denver and Fort Collins, I could not attract investors to save the old Cheyenne Hotel.

After almost two years of work, when the bank was on the verge of repossessing the building, our general contractor, the man – the legend – Chuck Murphy, saw another approach. He called a meeting of all the subcontractors who had bid on the project – the electrician, the plumber, the sprinkler guy, all of the others – to come listen to the same pitch I’d been giving to wealthy investors.

Despite my skepticism that small businesspeople would accept such risk, they put their money down. We raised the last $150,000 from the subcontractors. They become my partners. From that point on, everything was different. I’ll never forget when the electrician came and was concerned about lighting in the bar. He suggested that we replace the deluxe fan system in our plans with an equally durable fan that also featured lights. I asked what the extra cost was going to be, and he said I’m your partner, “Why would I add an extra cost?”

That’s how we built the Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.

Two other simple statements merit appreciative note:

  • Our top priority must be jobs.
  • Sustainable jobs are created by the private sector.

And the Democratic governor tied these principles into a call for regulatory reform, or at least regulatory reporting:

In the days ahead, I would like to see if we could look at adding a regulatory impact statement or something like a regulatory impact statement to new legislation. Just as we require a fiscal note for every new bill that estimates the costs to state government, we could also include an estimation of the cost to businesses of additional regulations.

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