Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy is stealthily seeking the most massive expansion of her agency’s regulatory power in its history. If she succeeds, most of the privately owned land in the country will be subject to the whims of petty bureaucrats, many of whom are motivated by the same brand of environmental fanaticism that has previously made EPA President Obama’s "war on coal" tool of choice for wrecking America’s electrical-power generation industry.
McCarthy might have succeeded in her land-control quest without public notice, but for House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas and the chairman of one of that panel's subcommittees, Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah. in an Oct. 18, 2013, letter first reported by Washington Examiner columnist Ron Arnold, Smith and Stewart said “we are concerned that [EPA] is pushing through a rule with vast economic and regulatory implications before the agency's Science Advisory Board has had an opportunity to review the underlying the science.”
Smith and Stewart said it appears “EPA intends to expand federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act to include even the most isolated wetlands, seasonal drainages and prairie depressions. A sweeping reinterpretation of EPA jurisdiction would give the agency unprecedented control over private property across the nation.” In other words, as ambitious bureaucrats typically do, McCarthy – an unaccountable appointee who answers to no one except Obama - wants the power to tell everybody else what they can and cannot do with their private property.
An indication of McCarthy's determination to acquire this unprecedented regulatory power is seen in her manipulation of the rule-making process required by federal law. The Environmental Research, Development and Demonstration Authorization Act requires that, whenever the EPA head asks other federal agencies to review any proposed regulation under the Clean Water Act, it must also provide the Science Advisory Board all “relevant scientific and technical information … on which the proposed action is based.”
The SAB is in turn empowered under the law to provide an independent assessment of the quality and relevance of the science underlying the proposal. But McCarthy has circulated her proposed expansion of EPA land-control power to other agencies via the White House Office of Management and Budget without providing the required material to the SAB.
In their letter, Smith and Stewart warn McCarthy that “any attempt to issue a proposed rule before completing an independent examination by the agency’s own science advisors would be to put the cart before the horse.” The agency’s approach, the congressmen add, “appears to represent a rushed, politicized regulatory process lacking the proper consultation with scientific peer reviewers and the American people.”
Smith and Stewart deserve commendation for putting McCarthy on notice that her usurpation of regulatory authority Congress never intended for EPA won’t go unchallenged. But the gentlemen from Texas and Utah should also be aware that McCarthy isn’t likely to give a second thought to a warning letter. They better be prepared to take stronger measures.