The EPA and Ms. Lisa Jackson, its chief, have committed extensive violations of law that should receive in-depth scrutiny from Congress, law enforcement and the American people. Yes the Obama administration has yet another serious scandal on their hands. The scandal features a fantasy administrator, ‘Richard Windsor’, and ‘his’ email account . The account was established and used by Ms. Jackson to camouflage controversial EPA processes, discussions, decisions and accountability. To date the known evidence suggests violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), mail and wire fraud laws. Additionally it surfaces another example of the Obama administration’s epidemic chicanery with the law, Congress and the Constitution and another failure to keep faith with the American people.
Upon closer inspection the EPA like the GSA and other Obama administration agencies demonstrates a lack of managerial/administrative control. It also exhibited a culture of obfuscation, malfeasance and corruption that did not blossom overnight. And like other Obama scandals, the mainstream media has again decided to cover it with their much practiced three monkey act.
For perspective a little recent history is in order. Lisa Jackson, who is departing the EPA, stated in November of 2011 that, “…What EPA’s role is to do is to level the playing field so that pollution costs are not exported to the population but rather companies have to look at pollution potential of any fuel or any process or any plant or utility when their making investment decisions.” Simply translated Ms. Jackson makes clear that her job and the EPA’s are to hurt companies/industries that produce energy counter to the wishes of the Obama administration (and the left’s agenda). Ms. Jackson also demonstrates a very low economic IQ since higher costs incurred by energy companies will be passed to end users/consumers.
Coupling her statement with President Obama’s pronouncement of a year ago, i.e. “Where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves”… exposes his strategy to “legislate” by regulation and executive order (with Jackson’s and the heads of other agencies helping). Although Obama indicated it would be “nice” to work with Congress, his intentions are to evade a two centuries-old legislative process of the Constitution and impose his will on all Americans. The EPA under Jackson has become a key bludgeon in this political and ideological power grab and has used illegal methods in the effort.
President Obama’s inaugural speech noted the environment may receive emphasis during his second term. Obama opined that Americans have an obligation to posterity to “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”. Obama immediately followed with a pitch for sustainable energy, e.g. wind, solar and bio (and more crony capitalism?). Remember this is the man that promoted ‘cap and trade’ legislation early in his initial term when the economy was “nearing a depression”.
An administration’s ability to regulate in the extreme and by executive action has evolved slowly over the past 70 years gaining momentum after the Reagan years. The Congress and our courts have ceded appreciable power to the Executive branch and government agencies by enacting laws with little oversight and that rely heavily on internal agency inspectors such as the EPA’s Inspector General. Further the courts have exhibited discomfort in reining in other government branches unless egregious actions are uncovered. The Supreme Court’s twisted logic/argument to find ObamaCare constitutional demonstrates the discomfort.
Now due to a whistleblower and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Christopher Horner’s investigative work a federal court (U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit) has ruled that the EPA must turn over 12,000 ‘Richard Windsor’ emails in four 3,000 email batches. The first group of emails released totaled a mere 2,100 and not one was from ‘Richard Windsor’. In a cover letter Ms. Jackson insisted that she only used one government account for EPA business even though this directly contradicted her earlier admission that she used ‘Richard Windsor’ for internal EPA discussions. The release makes clear that the EPA and Jackson have taken to the foxholes and a full denial/stonewalling mode is now in effect. Thus the Competitive Enterprise Institute has brought another action against the EPA in the Appeals Court to force immediate release.
Remember, the EPA has an impact on every American with a tsunami of regulation that is both costly and arguably infringing on our Constitutional rights. Moreover the agency has presided over an attempt to bankrupt the coal industry, close coal burning plants and drive up the cost of motor fuels -- negatively impacting job creation, the economic recovery and America’s energy security. The estimated costs of EPA regulations range from $353 (Competitive Enterprise Institute) to $460 billion (The American Action Forum) and are growing like a malignant cancer. These costs represent from 20% to 26% of the total cost of US regulations estimated at $1.75 trillion and are cited in a World Economic Forum report as a key reason for a sluggish recovery and daunting unemployment. For comparison these costs are appreciably higher than Health and Human Services regulatory costs estimated at $184.8 billion (the 2nd highest).
The EPA under Jackson’s ideological direction has taken a leadership position in exploding these costs. EPA costs have essentially four components; direct, myriad enforcement costs, permit action reviews and other non-rule making costs. Yet the EPA in its cost-benefit analyses insists that the benefits of its actions are at worst three dollars in benefits to one in costs. President Obama has stated on the stump that some regulations show returns of benefits to costs at a ratio of 25 to 1. The EPA’s analyses essentially only deal with direct costs; not the others noted. Moreover many of the assumptions used in the analyses are ludicrous and defy common sense (see). Credible sources outside of government emphatically disagree and posit that the EPA almost always under estimates costs and dramatically over estimates benefits…with the true net seldom being a positive.
Recently the EPA has ruled -- without that power being granted by Congress -- that automobile maker fleet mileage standards must rise to 54 miles per gallon (adding costs per vehicle of $2,100 to $3,000)…that run-off rain water is a pollutant (vacated by the D.C. Federal Appeals Court)…that lands could not be sold if certain wastes were theoretically present to prevent 0.59 cancer cases per year (about 3 cases every 5 years)costing $194 to $219 million annually.
Further the use of “sue and settle”, a scam, has become a common tool of the EPA’s to impose oppressive mandates on targeted businesses with incalculable costs. To implement the scam, the EPA has an environmental or advocacy group file a suit claiming the federal government has failed to satisfy some EPA regulatory requirement. The EPA can choose to defend itself or settle the suit. The ‘solution’ is to put in place a ‘court ordered regulation’ requested by the advocacy group…neat, relatively fast and illegal.
But more shockingly the EPA doles out hundreds of millions of dollars every year to certain organizations. The funds are awarded with no notice, accountability or competition according to the Government Accountability Office. The monies almost always go to favored entities that in some instances have used the funds for non-environmental purposes.
In sum the EPA, in particular, has severely reduced our nation’s competitiveness as measured by the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom. The index places the U.S. behind nations like Chile and Denmark and in tenth place worldwide.
The EPA’s record of sleaziness, its disregard for transparency, its lack of basic integrity, its fraudulent estimation of costs/benefits and now its attempt to defy and evade a Federal Court order (and by extension FOIA, mail and wire fraud laws) combines both inbred corruption and serious scandal. Together these faults suggest that it may be time to dismantle the agency.
Other federal agencies, not just the EPA, have exhibited this general penchant for ignoring Congress, the courts, the law and the American people. This systemic and widespread disregard suggests the approval of a higher governmental authority…the office of the President.