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Jim Tait 02/01-02/28/17

home : opinions : opinions June 24, 2017

4/11/2017 7:29:00 AM
Enough protection already
John Stossel
Columnist

"Trump may have just signed a death warrant for our planet!" warns CNN host Van Jones.

"Disaster for Clean Water, Air," says the Environmental Working Group.

Give me a break.

Regulation zealots and much of the media are furious because President Donald Trump canceled Barack Obama's attempt to limit carbon dioxide emissions. But Trump did the right thing.

CO2 is what we exhale. It's not a pollutant. It is, however, a greenhouse gas, and such gases increase global warming. It's possible this will lead to a spiral of climate change that will destroy much of Earth!

But probably not. The science is definitely not settled.

Either way, Obama's expensive regulation wouldn't make a discernible difference. By 2030 - if it met its goal - it might cut global carbon emissions by 1 percent.

The Earth will not notice.

However, people who pay for heat and electricity would notice. The Obama rule demanded power plants emit less CO2. Everyone would pay more - for no useful reason.

I say "would" because the Supreme Court put a "stay" on the regulation, saying there may be no authority for it.

So Trump proposes a sensible cut: He'll dump an Obama proposal that was already dumped by courts. He'd also reduce Environmental Protection Agency spending by 31 percent.

Good!

Some of what regulators do now resembles the work of sadists who like crushing people. In Idaho, Jack and Jill Barron tried to build a house on their own property. Jack got permission from his county. So they started building.

They got as far as the foundation when the EPA suddenly declared that the Barrons' property was a "wetland."

Some of their land was wet. But that was only because state government had not maintained its own land, adjacent to the Barrons' property, and water backed up from the state's land to the Barrons'.

The EPA suddenly said, "You are building on a wetland!" and filed criminal charges against them. Felonies. When government does that, most of us cringe and give up. It costs too much to fight the state. Government regulators seem to have unlimited time and nearly unlimited money.

But Jack was mad enough to fight. He spent $200,000 on his own lawyers.

Three years later, a jury cleared Jack of all charges.

But even that didn't stop the EPA.

Jill Barron told me, "We won, but after we were home for a month maybe, the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA sent us another letter saying, 'how nice for you that you won in the criminal court, but we still feel it's a wetlands.' And the decision made by the jury did not matter to them. 'And if you don't get off the property, we're going to fine you (in) civil (court).'"

The EPA threatened a fine of $37,500 a day.

The Barrons sold their home and moved into a trailer.

"We'll be bankrupt, obviously." Jill told me, "You have no idea what you're up against. You don't know the power that is the EPA."

So I'm glad Trump wants to limit the EPA. Scott Pruitt, the agency's new director, understands that bureaucrats often abuse their power. When he was Oklahoma attorney general, he sued the EPA 13 times for regulatory overreach.

I hope he cuts the bureaucrats back to proper size.

The agency was necessary in 1970, when it was created. At the time, cities dumped whatever we flushed into nearby waterways - with no treatment.

Smokestacks filled the air with actual pollutants: soot, sulfur dioxide, etc. In New York City, we didn't dare leave windows open because filth would blow in.

The EPA required sewage treatment, scrubbers in smokestacks and catalytic converters in car exhaust systems. The regulations worked. America's air and water is cleaner than it's been for decades. I can even swim in the Hudson River, right next to millions of people - who are still flushing.

Now, in a rational world, the EPA would say, "Stick a fork in it, it's done! EPA now stands for 'Enough Protection Already.'" But bureaucracies never say they're done. "Done" means bureaucrats are out of work. Can't have that.

So politicians keep adding unnecessary new rules and keep harassing people like the Barrons.

John Stossel is the author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails - But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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