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EPA Tag

Last week, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would battle the "regulatory industry" that has prospered under President Obama. The Environmental Protection Agency has been the tycoon of this industry. Now, in what is hopefully a sign of turnaround, a court has ruled in favor of American farmers who have been pitted against the agency in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
A federal appeals court recently overruled a lower court decision to throw out a lawsuit brought by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its release to environmental groups of personal information on tens of thousands of farmers. In late 2015, a U.S. district court dismissed the NPPC-Farm Bureau suit for lack of standing. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis ruled that “the associations have established a concrete and particularized injury in fact traceable to the EPA’s action and redressable by judicial relief.”

Residents in the West Calumet Complex in East Chicago got quite a shock over a month ago, when Department of Health officials began testing for lead poisoning and arsenic contamination.
...In a letter from the EPA dated July 11, 2016, [Shantel Allen] was informed that some parts of her yard had lead levels up to 66 times above the lead limit and 55 times above the arsenic limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. But what shocked her even more was that the letter said her "property was tested for lead and arsenic at the end of 2014." Which means the test was somewhere in a lab, on a shelf, on a desk or getting processed for more than a year and a half before she learned of the danger she and her children were in. "I was pregnant while in this complex -- exposed to lead, sleeping on a contaminated bed, laying on a contaminated couch -- nobody said anything. They kept this very well hidden from all of us," Allen said.

Truly, the 21st century is not turning out as I envisioned. We have been closely following the #FlintWatercrisis. After relying on science, technology, and public policy for decades to guarantee safe drinking water, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy just wrote a letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver explaining why the region's water woes are going to continue into the foreseeable future.
...Among the problem areas identified by McCarthy:
  • Flint's water system is oversized for its current and projected water demand, leading to water not moving through the system as designed. This standing water in pipes can erode the residual chlorine that protects against pathogens.
  • "The water treatment plant is not adequately staffed, operated or administered to reliably deliver safe drinking water for years into the future," McCarthy stated. Additional "experienced and expert operators" and improved standard operating procedures and preventive and corrective maintenance programs are needed.
  • The EPA administrator also was critical of city leadership. "Flint needs a city administration that can provide stable, reliable and quick administrative support essential to a well-functioning drinking water system," she stated in her letter....
So while the EPA is struggling to deal with the lead in Flint's water system, another government agency has issued a troubling report on an aquatic contaminant that has become ubiquitous in the public water system: Synthetic estrogen from contraceptives.

The last time we checked the regulatory runoff from the Animas River spill, a 132-page report by the Interior Department and Bureau of Reclamation laid the blame for the contamination at the doorstep of the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, the legal runoff is about to hit.
New Mexico is seeking more than $136 million from the Environmental Protection Agency and the owners of Colorado’s Gold King Mine, noting that dangers from contaminants spewed into the Animas River by the Aug. 5 mine spill are still lurking in New Mexico waters. In a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court, Attorney General Hector Balderas and the New Mexico Environment Department cite economic setbacks and environmental damage suffered by the state after more than 3 million gallons of toxic waste was dumped into the river. It demands reimbursement of $889,327 for short-term emergency-response costs paid by the state, more than $6 million to pay for long-term monitoring of the Animas and San Juan rivers and $130 million for lost income, taxes, fees and revenues suffered by the state because of the spill.

Although very few states still—or ever did—mandate ethanol in gasoline, ethanol-blended gas is widely available; indeed, it can be difficult to find an ethanol-free gas station (if you want to find one near you, try this resource). The blend wall—the percentage of ethanol to gas considered safe for car engines—is 10% or E-10, and past efforts to create and push E-15 have failed.  The little-known practice of automakers quietly voiding warranties on cars whose owners use E-15 gasoline illustrates the industry's understanding of the harm that levels of ethanol passing the blend wall (E-10) causes to car engines.  Triple A also warned against the use of E-15 gas in pre-2012 cars.  Not only are engines—cars, boats, lawn mowers, chain saws, etc.— harmed, but ethanol blended into gasoline, not just the higher E-15 blend but even that at the blend wall, also contributes to a loss of mileage. The percentage of ethanol to gas has been increasing relatively steadily over the past decade as indicated by this graph from Bloomberg:

While the Obama Administration is setting the country on fire with public school transgender bathroom dictates, a Wyoming man has scored a major legal victory against a regulatory Goliath. The Pacific Legal Foundation represented Wyoming rancher Andy Johnson in challenging an EPA compliance order threatening him with $37,500 per day in fines for constructing a stock pond on his property. The PLF lawsuit argued that Johnson’s pond is expressly exempt from the Clean Water Act and that the stream in which he constructed the pond is not a jurisdictional water because it does not affect a navigable water. And, as an extra bonus, a former Corps of Engineers enforcement officer asserted that Johnson's pond has many environmental benefits, including fish and wildlife habitat and enhanced water quality.

The last time we checked on Flint, we learned that the regional Environmental Protection Agency team indicated the city was "not worth going out on a limb for." Perhaps not, but the city now is facing over 50 lawsuits because the EPA decided it didn't need to take any action upon learning about the elevated lead levels in the municipal water supply.
More than 50 lawsuits have been filed since January, accusing the city of being complicit in the water crisis for not doing enough during the 18 months in which Flint was getting its drinking water from the polluted Flint River. That move was a decision made by the state, and it turned out to be a terrible one. The river's highly corrosive water wasn't treated properly by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the water corroded lead service lines, which then caused lead to seep into the drinking water and poison families.

We noted that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was 40-years in the making and the situation was worsened by complete bureaucratic failure. However, unlike Hillary Clinton and her emails, the electronic correspondence from regulators and government officials associated with the decision that resulted in Flint residents consuming water with elevated lead concentrations has been released. It is not a pretty picture. One set from the EPA's local regulators indicate that the bureaucrats were prepared to let the situation continued unchecked for several months before proceeding to take any mitigating action.

We are in the midst of a campaign to strip Bill Cosby's name from buildings and other forms of public recognition because of allegations he sexually abused multiple women decades ago. Cosby has not been convicted of a single one of those charges. But that has not stopped action against Cosby in the public sphere. For example, Buzzfeed reported in September 2015, Bill Cosby’s Name Removed From Historically Black University In Ohio:
Central State University, a historically black college in Wilberforce, Ohio, announced Friday it is permanently removing Bill Cosby’s name from a building following the multiple allegations of sexual assault made against the comedian. According to the Associated Press, the school put a temporary cover over the name of the Camille O. & William H. Cosby Communications Center building in July, but in the coming weeks the letters will be removed entirely and replaced with “SCU Communications Center.” The building was named after the comedian when his family donated over $2 million to the school.
Time magazine has compiled a list:

The EPA has been hit with a veritable flood of scandals recently. We covered the Animas River spill, caused by the EPA's rush to solve a non-problem involving a mine's wastewater, which impacted the water quality for several Western states. In 2013, one climate change expert who posed as a CIA operative was jailed for conning the agency out of nearly $1 Million.
The Environmental Protection Agency's top climate change expert and highest paid employee was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison today for defrauding the government. John C. Beale, who lives with his wife in Virginia, claimed he was a CIA agent working in Pakistan so he didn't have to show up for work for months at a time and defrauded the government out of more than $900,000....

Back in 2008, Obama suggested that it would be necessary to bankrupt the coal industry in his efforts to establish "green" energy alternatives—he wanted to "take coal off the table as an ideological matter." Here's the clip: The Daily Caller has a partial transcript of the above interview:
In 2008, Obama said his energy policies would “bankrupt” anyone who wants to build a coal plant. “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Obama said during a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board.

In May, we covered the EPA's Waters of the United States rule and just how far-reaching it is, and in August, the EPA decided that a federal injunction imposed in response to a suit filed by thirteen states didn't apply nationally, stating that it applied only to those states that were parties in the case.  The EPA declared it would move forward with imposing the rule on the remaining fifty states. Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit Court handed down its own ruling that blocked the waters rule nationwide.  The Hill reports:
In a 2-1 ruling, the Cincinnati-based Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit delivered a stinging defeat to Obama’s most ambitious effort to keep streams and wetlands clean, saying it looks likely that the rule, dubbed Waters of the United States, is illegal. “We conclude that petitioners have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims,” the judges wrote in their decision, explaining that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new guidelines for determining whether water is subject to federal control — based mostly on the water’s distance and connection to larger water bodies — is “at odds” with a key Supreme Court ruling.

Tuesday, Senator Cruz chaired a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts titled “Opportunity Denied: How Overregulation Harms Minorities” that investigated the harmful effects of government overregulation on people and businesses who lack the resources and political connections to deal effectively with mountains of red tape. According to his office, Cruz invited Harry Alford, president and CEO, National Black Chamber of Commerce; Michael Barrera, national economic prosperity manager, The LIBRE Institute; Sabina Loving, owner and operator, Loving Tax Services, Inc.; and Timothy Sandefur, principal attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation. Their testimony focused on the harmful effects of government overregulation on the African-American and Hispanic communities and on the experience of small businesses within these communities. Democrat witnesses included Aaron Mair, president of the Sierra Club; Amit Narang, regulation policy advocate at Public Citizen; and William Scott, CEO of Tristatz, LLC. “Fifty-five years ago, there were 13 regulatory federal government agencies. Today, there are over 70," said Senator Cruz. This is where Cruz shines his brightest. Questioning Sierra Club President Aaron Mair, Senator Cruz challenged Mair to name one instance harmful government regulation:

President Obama has been busy this week, renaming the nation's highest peak from Mt. McKinley to the traditional Alaskan name, Denali (meaning high one...which seems a clever way for Obama to actually name the place after himself with nobody being the wiser). Because Alaska doesn't have many golf courses, he has been working hard, too. Obama has been staring down glaciers to fight climate change and giving millions of taxpayer dollars away in specialty commissions to aid in this epic battle.

I recently reported that EPA regulations that were poised to go into effect at the end of last week, broadening the scope of the agency's power under the "Waters of the United States" Act. A federal judge has blocked its implementation hours before it was due to take effect:
Yesterday, a federal district court in North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of a new Environmental Protection Agency rule defining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This rule is important because many of the CWA’s regulatory prohibitions, including the prohibition on developing wetlands without a federal permit, apply only in “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The Supreme Court rebuked the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers for applying an unduly expansive WOTUS definition (see SWANCC v. U.S. Army Corps and Rapanos v. United States), and this rule is an effort to reassert and clarify the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction under the CWA.

Earlier this year, I reported that a Washington D.C. attorney discovered ingrained collusion amongst top level staff in the office of former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber to “spread climate coordination and collaboration to a larger group of governors across the U.S." Investigators have continued to follow the email trail, which has uncovered connections between the EPA regulatory drive and a billionaire, "green jobs" activist:
The White House, statehouses, and nonprofits backed by the billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer worked behind the scenes to create a state-level advocacy network to support controversial new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, newly released emails reveal. Involved in the strategy was a top aide to John Kitzhaber, the former Democratic governor of Oregon, according to emails obtained by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute. Kitzhaber resigned this year in the midst of a scandal involving his fiancée.
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