I must admit that I felt a bit like Claude Rains as Captain Renault in Casablanca this morning. Renault declared he was “. . . shocked, shocked, to find that gambling was going on here.” in an establishment well known for gambling and in which he, himself had gambled many times before. Rains came to mind when I read the EPA’s reaction to the vacuous executive order President Obama issued yesterday directing his executive branch regulatory agencies to review their regulations and actions with an eye toward reducing red tape. Obama directed the EPA among other agencies to remove any of the rules already on the books that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive and when making new rules, they must avoid “unreasonable burdens on business.”
The EPA’s reaction: It is “Confident that it will not have to alter its current or proposed rules (including its climate regulations).
I was shocked, shocked I say, to find that a regulatory agency would find that none of its current or proposed rules unnecessarily burdens the economy or hurts job retention or growth. I predicted this response yesterday. After all, what agency is going to say, “yeah, we were wrong, these rules don’t work, they produce more harm than they prevent,” or “Sure we’re in a recession, and sure these rules won’t do any good [let’s say, for example, in preventing climate change], and sure there are going to be enormous costs but the country should adopt the regulations anyway – at least we’ll look like we are doing something.”
Don’t get me wrong, some agencies may find that a few older rules or regulations no longer apply and can be removed, but that will largely be because either the industries that they applied to no longer operate in the country (having moved overseas due, in part, to the high costs imposed by the rules), or technology has substantially changed, or, most likely, because newer, more stringent – they are always more stringent – rules supercede the older rules thus making them obsolete.
The EPA’s claim, and the claims that will be made by other agencies, that they can find few if any current or proposed rules that unnecessarily burden the economy are false, just like the child who whacks his or her sibling in the head when the parents aren’t looking and then, shout’s “I didn’t do it!”
The NCPA among a variety of other organizations has documented the tremendous costs that regulatory agencies in general impose upon the economy – which too often result in unemployment, impoverishment and premature death.
The EPA’s rules are especially pernicious in this regard. They quite simply produce very little benefit for all the harm they cause and are usually based upon research that, even when peer reviewed, is seriously flawed ignores other better structured research that shows little or no harm from the activity that the EPA proposes to or is already regulating. New Ozone rules, fuel economy rules (not usually the domain of the EPA but with climate becoming the issue the EPA has a role) and proposed climate rules are prime examples.
If the EPA’s claim of “No harm, no foul,” wasn’t so disingenuous and the regulations so dangerous, they would be funny. But the harms caused by various regulations aren’t funny, and so the EPA reviewing itself and declaring itself innocent, isn’t funny either. Its serious, deadly serious.