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Opinion: Columnists

Obama Washington Wink-Winking like crazy at EPA

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Mark Tapscott,Columnists,Campaign 2012

President Obama is among the slickest practitioners ever of the Washington Wink-Wink -- what professional politicians in both parties do when they say one thing while planning to do something else entirely.

There was, for example, Obama's 2008 campaign promise to "cut the federal deficit in half." And that "net federal spending cut" he would achieve by the end of his first term? Anybody think he didn't know then that his first term would explode the deficit and spending to historic highs?

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sees more of the same from Obama on the Environmental Protection Agency front, which the Oklahoma Republican described in a detailed report he issued yesterday.

Here's the first wink: "Obama has spent the past year punting on a slew of job-killing EPA regulations that will destroy millions of American jobs and cause energy prices to skyrocket even more," Inhofe said. "From greenhouse gas regulations to water guidance to the tightening of the ozone standard, the Obama-EPA has delayed the implementation of rule after rule because they don't want all those pink slips and price spikes to hit until after the election."

For the second wink, Inhofe quotes Obama's former White House environmental czar Carol Browner, who recently reassured impatient environmentalists with these words: "I can tell you, having spent two years in the White House with the president, that this is not a fad. The president believes deeply in these issues ... there is no doubt in my mind this will be a big part of his to-do list and he will remain committed in the next four years."

In other words, Browner was saying, just wait, because Obama fears he might not get re-elected if he went ahead with his EPA plans before the election.

Here are just a few of many examples cited by Inhofe of costly new Obama-inspired regulations that EPA will impose on the economy after Nov. 6:

• Greenhouse gas regulations, including the infamous "cow tax." The EPA will finalize proposed regulations that will virtually eliminate coal use in electricity generation, thus driving consumer electric bills sky-high. This cluster of new regulations will also impose an annual fee on farmers for every ton of greenhouse gases emitted by their animals. The EPA estimates that 37,000 farms and ranches will have to pay on average a $23,000 annual "cow tax."

• New regulations will so severely reduce permissible ozone emissions that the EPA estimates the cost to the economy will be $90 billion per year. Other studies put the cost as high as $1 trillion. Split the difference between the estimates, and the result still means the loss of millions of jobs.

• New Tier III regulations will cut permissible sulfur emissions by two-thirds. That will add as much as 9 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas, according to Inhofe.

• The EPA's new coal ash regulation will cost as much as $110 billion over two decades and destroy more than 300,000 jobs, mostly in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri.

This week, the Columbia Journalism Review and Pro Publica released a report stating that Obama has proved more secretive in some respects than his immediate predecessor in the Oval Office, George W. Bush. One of those quoted by CJR/PP is Society of Environmental Journalists President Ken Ward Jr., a staff reporter for the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette, who tweeted this yesterday: "The Obama EPA is the most difficult to get information and answers out of that I've covered in 20 years."

That's the kind of transparency we get from politicians who do the Washington Wink-Wink.

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.

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Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor
The Washington Examiner