Ignorance Of (Environmental) Regulations Is No Excuse, Especially For Elected Officials


Mountain top removal project from satellite view, 2009. Image credit:NASA via Mongobay. (from Satellite Photos Reveal How Mountaintop Removal Is Scarring Appalachia.)

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that "U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., says President Barack Obama agrees that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should analyze the potential economic impacts of its decisions before making them final." (Well, duh.) Wait... there's more. "Capito said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has told her privately and stated publicly that the agency does not take economic factors into account when considering policy decisions. " Hmm. Administrative policy setting by an Agency involves deciding to what extent to enforce existing laws and regulations and how best to follow Congress' statutory intentions: priority setting, in other words.

Proposing new regulations and considering public comments before making regulations (rules) final are a more formal and openly public matter and I assume that this is what the was being referred to. Unless the statutory requirements followed for 40+ years have been suddenly tossed aside, the Representative's remarks are pretty wide off the mark. For example:
Go to this link at Regulations.gov, Hazardous and Solid Waste Management System: Identification and Listing of Special Wastes; Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities, and search within the Proposed Rule on just the term "economic."

Then do the same thing for the final rule: Standards of Performance for Coal Preparation and Processing Plants.

This one is especially germane to the subject at hand: mountain top removal and valley fills. Excess Spoil, Coal Mine Waste, and Buffers for Perennial and Intermittent Streams

Elected officials and newspaper reporters may authorize their staffs to do the same. If they like, they can even click on the docket-opening button for each proposed rule and read all the gory economic details and public comments: pro and con. The methodology is generally outlined. Its free it's easy and there's way more detail than you imagined. But I guess that's the point isn't it...to imagine the worst of a regulatory Agency and spin it that way to score political points?

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