Thursday, March 10, 2016

What These State Environmental Officials Say Obama’s EPA Has Forced on Them

The Environmental Protection Agency has overstepped its legal authority by imposing a regulatory agenda on the states, environmental officials at the state level testified Wednesday to a Senate committee. Randy Huffman, cabinet secretary at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, testified that the EPA’s flood of environmental regulations since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 chipped away at the Founding Fathers’ intent of “cooperative federalism” between the national and state governments. Instead of consulting state regulators when establishing new policies, Huffman said, EPA bureaucrats increasingly are imposing regulations through what is called federal guidance. “There’s two problems with this: EPA guidance further eliminates state discretion, and it allows them to avoid the accountability and transparency of rulemaking,” . When Congress passed the Clean Air Act more than 40 years ago, Huffman said, lawmakers put states in charge of establishing procedures to meet federal standards. In fact, over 95 percent of the environmental regulatory duties in the U.S. are carried out by the states, he said, citing the Environmental Council of the States. The West Virginia official said Congress placed the primary responsibility with the states because lawmakers knew that state authorities would be more knowledgeable of local environments than D.C. bureaucrats. Rather than following congressional intent, he said, EPA regulators seized authority from the states. “In the past seven years, states have been forced to digest more of these federal takeovers … than were ever served in the prior three federal administrations combined 10 times over,” Becky Keogh, director at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, testified. Keogh said the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, regulations on the coal industry designed to cut carbon emissions, is illustrative of the diminishment of state sovereignty. “The reality is that states are more pawn than partner,” she said...more

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