Regulations Govern Our Lives - Then Send Us The Bill
Richard Terrell's cartoon (more a picture of reality) on March 25, 2012 about the maze of regulations thrown up by the Departments of Interior (DOI) and Energy (DOE), as well as by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), really describes the country in which we currently live.
Congress passes the laws that govern the U.S., but Congress has also authorized the EPA and other federal agencies to help put the laws into effect by creating and enforcing regulations. The list of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is quite long, encompassing every subject from infants to the aged, from drug abuse to health care. In this list are DOI, DOE, and EPA regulations.
Since we do not have space here (nor the inclination) to list all federal regulations, let's focus on one federal agency featured in Terrell's cartoon: the EPA. The EPA has literally thousands of regulations, so in the interest of brevity, let's focus upon one example: the regulation, to which Terrell alludes, on oil drilling.
In April 2011, the EPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) denied Shell Oil Company's plan to drill an exploratory test well in Alaska's Chukchi Sea. This is the second time drilling has been delayed due to EPA environmental concerns. The EPA's appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. But the EAB did not elaborate on how that affected its decision.
The EAB has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Anna Wolgast, and Kathie Stein, all registered Democrats. (Members are appointed by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.) Kathie Stein was an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. Can anyone say "conflict of interest"?
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says there are about 27 billion barrels of oil in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean. That's two and a half times more oil than has flowed down the Trans Alaska pipeline in its entire thirty-year history. Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Is the EPA going to reimburse Shell?
The closest village to where Shell proposed to drill is Kaktovik, AK (population: 245), 70 miles away from the proposed offshore drill site. "What the modeling showed was [that] in communities like Kaktovik, Shell's drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards," said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice's lead attorney on the case (emphasis mine). Earthjustice was joined by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Alaska Wilderness League in challenging the air permits.
The cost of regulation, in 2010, according to this source, was $1.75 trillion, or about $15,000 per household -- almost as much as the average family spends on housing. And Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), wrote in 2011 that all is just fine because the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says regulations cost no more than $62 billion annually. If the current regulation cost is fine, I would hate to know what is not fine with Sunstein.
The cost of a regulation should not be passed on to me (usually in the form of higher prices) just because someone, for whatever reason, doesn't practice due diligence.
Can political policy have the same effect as regulations? President Barack Hussein Obama's "green energy" policy has the same effect as regulations because it dictates how we live and how our tax dollars are spent.
For example, Obama believes we have a moral, environmental, economic, and security imperative to address our dependence on foreign oil and climate change in a serious, sustainable manner.
Obama's comprehensive plan to combat global warming and achieve energy security will:
- Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the level recommended by top scientists to avoid calamitous impacts.
- Invest $150 billion over the next ten years to develop and deploy climate-friendly energy supplies, protect our existing manufacturing base, and create millions of new jobs.
- Dramatically improve energy efficiency to reduce energy intensity of our economy by 50 percent by 2030.
- Reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce oil consumption overall by at least 35 percent, or 10 million barrels of oil, by 2030.
- Make the U.S. a leader in the global effort to combat climate change by leading a new international global warming partnership.
Do we have any choice in this? Obama's "comprehensive plan" may just as well be a regulation because we are forced to support it.
Today, Michelle Obama tells us what to eat and how to exercise. These are (for now) suggestions. Does anyone see her ideas becoming regulations, with the force of law, in the future because we are too stupid to look after ourselves or make our own decisions? Can anyone say "ObamaCare"?
Are we ready to endure all these regulations in order to live a risk-free life? Has education in this country been dumbed down to the point where all these regulations are necessary? Has there been a ban on access to engineers, CPAs, financial advisors, or attorneys for advice, financial or otherwise? Does Congress see us, the unwashed masses, as not able to take care of ourselves, as needing endless regulations to protect us? Whatever happened to standing on our own two feet?
The regulation reform process must begin with recognition that there is a regulation problem.
Dr. Beatty earned a Ph.D. in quantitative management and statistics from Florida State University. He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making. He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired. Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years. He blogs at rwno.limewebs.com.