Sometimes, “good riddance” just doesn’t suffice. It is hard to imagine a bureaucrat who has done more comprehensive damage to American interests than Lisa Jackson, the departing head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
During her four years as administrator, Jackson has put her radical environmental agenda before the wellbeing of the U.S. economy, the integrity of science, and even the structure of the American political system itself.
Start with her regulatory record. Since January 2009, Jackson’s EPA has issued 20 “major” regulations — defined as rules with an economic cost of $100 million or more each year. Incidentally, that $100-million standard looks like a low-ball upon examining many of the Jackson EPA’s own economic-impact statements. These 20 rules carry a total initial cost of $7 billion, a painful capital expenditure demanded of businesses that aspire to meet compliance standards.
And that’s just for starters. These 20 major regulations carry an annual compliance cost of $44.86 billion — that’s right, each and every year. It would be one thing if businesses, shareholders, and consumers paid that $44.86 billion each year in taxes, which would still hurt but at least make a dent in the deficit. But these costs aren’t even taxes. They’re $44.86 billion in sheer waste; money that would otherwise be used productively in the U.S. economy.
In actuality, the direct economic cost of the EPA’s aggressive regulation is considerably higher, but because the agency doesn’t calculate the cost of non-major rules it’s hard to put a number on it. During her first ten months in office, Jackson had already pushed through more EPA rules and regulations than were implemented under Bill Clinton’s entire first term, and Clinton was elected soon after “the EPA had just been handed broad new powers under the 1990 revamp of air pollution laws,” the Wall Street Journal has pointed out.
Under Jackson’s leadership, the EPA has issued a whopping 1,824 regulations, according to a count by Diane Katz, a research fellow in regulatory policy at the Heritage Foundation. In comparison, the Department of Energy issued 83; the Department of Labor, 76; and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, 51. Furthermore, more than two dozen additional EPA rules are pending review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and some are already designated as major, Katz says.
“[Jackson’s] legacy is much like the regulatory legacy of the administration in general, which is hyper-regulatory,” according to Katz.
Jackson’s prolific rulemaking has taken a toll on employment. Seven EPA rules targeted at electricity producers will cost 1.5 million jobs in the next four years alone, according to a report published in October 2012 by the National Economic Research Associates and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. And, seeking to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles, Jackson issued a 2010 rule that carries an annual $10.4 billion cost and destroyed around 50,000 auto-industry jobs, according to an estimate by the Institute for Energy Research. These are just two examples of many.
These rules also drive up on costs on everything from cars to power to consumer goods, and at a time when Americans are cash-starved; as of December, 7.8 percent of Americans were unemployed, and an additional 17.1 percent were underemployed.