EPA serves as arresting officer, judge, jury, and executioner in cases involving alleged violations of environmental laws
October 29, 2011 2 Comments
The EPA rules by edict, rules, and creative interpretations
of the laws governing its responsibilities.
In 2002, James V. DeLong, a scholar with the Progress and Freedom
Foundation, published a booklet entitled “Out Of Bounds, Out Of
Control: Regulatory Enforcement At The EPA.” In it, DeLong notes that
the EPA enforces a wide range of environmental statutes, which are
outlined in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Title 40 is 27
volumes long with more than 20,000 pages.
Through Title 40, the EPA can “interpret” the language of various laws
to control nearly every aspect of our existence. This includes such things
as cosmetics, insecticides, shoreline erosion, solid waste disposal, leadpaint
poisoning, hazardous materials transportation, asbestos, toxic
substances, nuclear waste, emergency planning, medical waste, ocean
dumping, safe drinking water, endangered species, etc.
Businesses face constant uncertainties about how to
comply with the blizzard of EPA regulations,
directives, memos and interpretations of various laws.
In fact, according to DeLong, an EPA enforcer can use
the same evidence of alleged wrong doing to require an
informational negotiation with the business owner,
create administrative penalties, impose civil penalties,
or pursue vigorous criminal prosecution. In other
words, “EPA can choose any level of action, from a
verbal warning to full criminal indictment, on the basis
of the same set of facts,” said DeLong.
The EPA serves as arresting officer, judge, jury, and executioner in
cases involving alleged violations of environmental laws. In addition, a
business owner’s intent to cause harm isn’t usually considered in
enforcing a law. Moreover, an EPA enforcer can charge a company with
an environmental violation not only if an actual crime was committed,
but if there’s a “threat” of significant harm or by a “threatened” release
of toxic substances. These vague descriptions are outlined in the EPA’s
document, “The Exercise Of Investigative Discretion.”
Badge of a “Special Agent” of the EPA. The power that these enforcers
have taken upon themselves is outrageous.
This document also tells EPA enforcers that they can cite a company for
“harm” if there’s a failure to report a release of a toxic substance or by
illegal conduct that represents a “trend or common attitude within the
In most law enforcement cases, a person’s intent is considered in
determining the extent of punishment. But not with the EPA. A business
owner’s intent is irrelevant.
The EPA is also guilty of creatively reinterpreting laws passed by
Congress in order to expand its control over new areas of our
environment. One of the most egregious examples of this is Lisa
Jackson’s decision in December, 2009 to declare carbon dioxide to be a
dangerous greenhouse gas that had to be
regulated through the EPA. Her
announcement came conveniently just
days before President Obama was giving
a speech at the U.N. climate change
conference in Copenhagen.
Jackson claimed that the Clean Air Act really
gives her no authority to regulate greenhouse gases, but she did it anyway by claiming that her EPA
science advisory board had issued a “finding” that carbon dioxide is a
pollutant that must be controlled. When did Congress give the EPA the right
to declare CO2 a pollutant? The Answer: Never!