Yesterday I attended my first protest rally. It was called “Occupy the EPA”/“Give Red Tape a Rest” rally. Going to a rally and holding a sign while calling out to passing cars is completely new to me, but totally worth it. I’ve been reading and hearing more and more about the overreach of the EPA and how it is slowly finding more and more ways of gaining unlimited control over our way of life. They have too much power with no oversight and that is one of the reasons I decided I had to join Americans for Prosperity-Colorado in protesting the Environmental Protection Agency-organized mining conference in Denver. EPA officials were meeting here for a conference on hard-rock mining.
I have come to agree with AFP-CO which believes “the agency’s rogue regulators and biased scientists are destroying jobs, driving-up energy costs, crippling America’s competitiveness and contributing to the country’s economic crisis.”
According to AFP-CO:
Recent rules targeting coal-fired power plants are the latest in a long list of EPA regulatory excesses, according to AFP-CO, which will cost Coloradans jobs and contribute to already-skyrocketing energy costs. The agency relies on biased, agenda-driven “science” and “scientists” to bolster its actions, the group says, pointing to the shoddy work the agency did investigating alleged water well contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming — as well as the agency’s decision to provide a prime speaking spot at the April 4 conference to Boulder-based Stratus Consulting, a hired gun for extreme environmental groups that has been implicated in a scheme to use shady science to rig a favorable ruling in a lawsuit in South America.
About 50-75 people showed up for to protest the red tape the EPA is using to make it tougher for businesses to get approval they need to comply with the crazy regulations and guidelines they keep adding for the supposed purpose of protecting the environment. We wanted people to know about how red tape and government overreach is restraining businesses to the cost of higher energy rates for everyone and the loss of jobs for many. Most of the time lately, this comes at the expense of small businesses being unable to afford the cost of implementing procedures to meet EPA regulations. Large businesses end up passing the cost onto the consumer which means the cost of gas, electricity, natural gas, etc. is passed on to people like you and I. What’s worse is that these businesses have no recourse but to pay the money and comply or go out of business.
The reason for our protest had a more personal context to those of us here in Denver. Colorado is a big mining state and we have great resources for hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
[...]The EPA is expected to issue new rules on fracking April 17, which critics fear will increase the regulatory burden on the natural-gas industry and drive up energy prices.
[...]The fracking rules come just weeks after the EPA proposed further limits on newly built coal-fire plants. Protestors said they worry that the Obama administration is trying to circumvent the coal industry in favor of natural gas and renewable energy.
Read her article about the protest here.
Lucky for me there are groups like AFP-Colorado that make it easy for people like me to get involved in making a difference.
At the main website for Americans for Prosperity it says“AFP is an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state, and federal levels. The grassroots activists of AFP advocate for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.”
If you want to become more involved in standing up for limited government and getting back to the freedoms we’ve been used to as free American Citizens then check out Americans for Prosperity and click on your state to see what’s going on in your area. It’s really helped me to feel as though I have a voice where I can go and participate in events that are done here in my state and city. Check it out. Find your voice!!
Several conservative members of the Supreme Court criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday for heavy-handed enforcement of rules affecting homeowners after the government told an Idaho couple they can’t challenge an order declaring their future home site a “protected wetlands.”
Justice Antonin Scalia assailed the “high-handedness” of the environmental agency when dealing with private property, and Justice Samuel Alito described some of the EPA’s actions as “outrageous,“ arguing that most people would say ”this kind of thing can’t happen in the United States.”
The EPA said that Mike and Chantell Sackett illegally filled in most of their 0.63-acre lot with dirt and rocks in preparation for building a home. The agency said the property is a wetlands that cannot be disturbed without a permit. The Sacketts had none.
Mike and Chantell Sackett (Image Courtesy: Business Insider)
The couple, who attended the Supreme Court arguments, said they had no reason to suspect there were wetlands on their property. They paid $23,000 for their property in 2005 and decided two years later to build a three-bedroom home. Workers spent three days filling in just under a half-acre of land.
Three EPA officials showed up, said they believed the land was wetlands, asked for a permit and told the workers to stop. Six months later, the EPA sent the order that triggered the court case. The Sacketts wanted to challenge that order, but lower courts have said that they cannot.
The EPA issues nearly 3,000 administrative compliance orders a year that call on alleged violators of environmental laws to stop what they‘re doing and repair the harm they’ve caused. Major business groups, homebuilders, road builders and agricultural interests all have joined the Sacketts in urging the court to make it easier to contest EPA compliance orders issued under several environmental laws.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wondered how far the Supreme Court should go in a ruling, noting that government agencies often threaten citations when people don’t comply with the law. “Health inspectors go into restaurants all the time and say: ‘Unless you fix this, I’m going to give you a citation.’ Fire inspectors, the same thing,” he said.
The Sacketts’ lawyer, Damien M. Schiff, argued that they weren‘t trying to take away EPA’s power. Environmental groups say a purpose of the orders is to make it easier to negotiate a resolution without a protracted legal fight.
“Let EPA administer the act and issue compliance orders,” Schiff said. “But let’s also give homeowners a fair shake, too. Let them have their day in court to contest what the agency has done.”
Alito leveled some of the strongest criticism against the EPA, noting that the Sacketts had to wait until the EPA sued them to even challenge the idea that there were wetlands on their property.
“You think maybe there is a little drainage problem in part of your lot, so you start to build the house and then you get an order from the EPA which says: ‘You have filled in wetlands, so you can’t build your house; remove the fill, put in all kinds of plants; and now you have to let us on your premises whenever we want to,’” Alito said. “You have to turn over to us all sorts of documents, and for every day that you don’t do all this you are accumulating a potential fine of $75,000. And by the way, there is no way you can go to court to challenge our determination that this is a wetlands until such time as we choose to sue you.”
Chief Justice John Roberts said that because of the potential fines, few people are going to challenge the EPA’s determinations.
“Because of the administrative compliance order, you’re really never going to be put to the test, because most land owners aren’t going to say, ‘I’m going to risk the $37,000 a day,” Roberts said. “All EPA has to do is make whatever finding it wants, and realize that in 99 percent of the cases, it’s never going to be put to the test.”
The EPA’s normal procedure is to contact the homeowner before issuing a compliance order, Justice Department lawyer Malcolm Stewart said. A wetlands biologist has also confirmed to The Associated Press that he advised the Sacketts in May 2007 that their property was a wetlands and that there were wetlands on three sides of their land. The Sacketts say that in 2010, other wetlands consultants examined their land and concluded that the first one was wrong.
If the Sacketts “had wanted a judicial resolution of the coverage question without subjecting themselves to potential penalties, they could have filed a permit application before discharging, they could have gotten review there. All we‘re saying is they can’t discharge fill, wait to see whether EPA notices, and then insist upon immediate judicial review if EPA notices and objects,” Stewart said.
However, critics argue these type of regulations, and the tangled mess of paperwork that accompanies them, are unwarranted, unfair and have been enacted with no real authority.
And while judicial activism has become a recent topic of discussion due to the GOP primaries, the question of federal authority in these areas has also been brought to the forefront of a national debate.
Why? Because much like Justices Scalia, Roberts and Alito, many Americans believe departments such as the EPA have been acting well outside the boundaries of their authority. Speaking of which, who gave them authority?
For some perspective, we turn to conservative author Mark Steyn:
For more and more Americans, law has been supplanted by “regulation”–a governing set of rules not legislated by representatives accountable to the people, but invented by an activist bureaucracy, much of which is well to the left of either political party. As the newspapers blandly reported in 2010, the bureaucrats weren’t terribly bothered about whether Congress would pass a cap-and-trade mega-bill into law because, if faint-hearted Dems lose their nerve, the EPA will just “raise” “standards” all by itself.*
Indeed, to borrow from Steyn again, “Where do you go to vote out the EPA?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(h/t Business Insider)
*Mark Steyn, “After America: Get Ready For Armageddon.” (Washington, D.C: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2011) 82.