The Corner

EPA’s Not Seeking 230,000 New Bureaucrats

A Daily Caller story citing an EPA estimate that it would require an additional 230,000 bureaucrats at a cost of $21 billion to regulate greenhouse gases is getting quite a bit of play (including on NRO).  But the Daily Caller flubbed the story.  The EPA is not “asking for taxpayers to shoulder” this burden, as the Daily Caller story claims.  Rather, the EPA is pointing out applying the plain text of the Clean Air Act to greenhouse gas emissions would require this result — and the EPA is correct on this point.  The EPA’s response is not to confess that trying to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is absurd, however.  Instead the EPA is seeking to rewrite the statute by administrative fiat.  This, and not the outrageous cost estimates, are where EPA goes wrong.

The only real solution is legislative action to correct the Supreme Court’s erroneous conclusion in Massachusetts v. EPA that the Clean Air Act covers greenhouse gases in the first place. Until this decision is overturned or the law is amended, however, over one million additional facilities are subject to the Act’s permitting requirements, and processing that number of permits would, in fact, require at least a ten-fold increase in EPA personnel, and it is neither fair nor accurate to attack the EPA for pointing this out.  There are many things worth attacking the EPA for, but this isn’t one of them.  If blame lies anywhere, it’s with the justices on the Supreme Court whose decision led to this result.

I have more to say on this at the VC.  I also provide background on this regulatory mess in this article from the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.

Jonathan H. Adler is the Johan Verhiej Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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