March 14, 2013
Being nominated as Administrator of the US EPA is quite an achievement for Gina McCarthy, and in all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding this appointment, I thought I would try to give a few words of advice to the new Administrator as she takes over at a critical time in our nation’s history as it relates to the environment.
· Remember who you work for: the taxpayers – including businesses, which are too often demonized. My understanding has always been that EPA’s goal is ensuring regulatory compliance. However, I’m concerned that the primary method of ensuring compliance has been through enforcement, rather than compliance assistance.
· Common sense in regulations – everyone wants clear air and clean water. It would be nice for a business person to see a new regulation come across his or her desk and say, “Gee, this makes sense. We should be doing this,” rather than, “Why the heck are we doing this?”
· Understand the problems with one-size-fits-all regulations: with an increasing number of unfunded federal mandates – particularly for local governments – there needs to be a realistic understanding that change takes time. Our communities need to have the flexibility to address environmental problems in a way that maximizes cost-efficiency. EPA has stated its intentions for increased flexibility through an integrated permitting process. I’m hopeful that EPA puts its money where its mouth is.
· Stay in the Sunshine: No more secret email accounts to avoid public scrutiny. No more gimmicks through “guidance” to avoid the proper rulemaking process. If an EPA proposal is good enough to consider, then it is good enough for the public to view, and if necessary, challenge in court.
· When the economy suffers, so does the environment: When Americans are out of work and businesses are struggling, there is less revenue to fund environmental protection and restoration initiatives. Regulations that damage the economy in the short-term will harm overall efforts to improve the environment in the long-term.
· Environmental protection has always been a shared responsibility between the states and the federal government, and it should remain that way. It is important that this partnership remains equal and the federal government does not overstep its legal boundaries.
· Remember that Congress writes the laws, not bureaucrats. The Clean Water Act (CWA) was written and passed by Congress with the intent to protect the navigable waters of the United States. Attempts to fundamentally alter the CWA and expand federal jurisdiction should be a decision made by Congress, not by unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington.
I wish Gina McCarthy the best of luck, and I hope that she and I will have a working relationship that will help both the environment as well as the economy.