New Report Reveals Significant Increase in EPA Actions Under the Obama Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 26, 2013 — A new report released today by the American Legislative Exchange Council shows a substantial increase in the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama Administration, which has cost states billions of dollars in compliance fees and millions of jobs lost. The report, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assault on State Sovereignty, is authored by William Yeatman, Assistant Director of the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Yeatman focuses on the three methods used by the EPA to implement environmental standards—sue and settle, regulatory disapprovals, and takeover of state plans known as “Federal Implementation Plans” (FIPs)—and explains how the EPA’s actions affect state budgets and job growth.

Sue and settle, a legal strategy where the EPA effectively replaces state participation in environmental protection with that of environmental groups, has imposed more than $13 billion in annual regulatory costs since 2009 and has drastically increased the power of the EPA at the expense of the states. The EPA had 48 sue and settle agreements during President Obama’s first term, representing a 380 percent increase from the average sue and settle rate during the previous three four-year presidential terms.

The second method of regulatory enforcement used by the EPA is the issuance of regulatory disapprovals. During President Obama’s first term, the EPA issued 95 regulatory disapprovals, representing more than a 190 percent increase from the average of the previous three four-year presidential terms.

The EPA’s takeover of a state regulatory program is the final method in which environmental standards are implemented. “Federal implementation plans,” or FIPs, entail the complete usurpation of a state’s regulatory authority. From 1997 through 2009, the EPA imposed only two FIPs. Since 2009, the EPA has imposed 19 FIPs, representing a 2,750 percent increase in FIPs from the average presidential term FIP rate during the past three presidential terms.

“In addition to releasing an unprecedented regulatory assault on the American public, this administration has been aggressively usurping state authority in environmental protection,” said Todd Wynn, the director of ALEC’s Task Force on Energy, Environment and Agriculture. “The EPA is supposed to serve as a resource for states, but in the last few years we’ve seen a more nationalized environmental policy. Our report addresses the impact the EPA’s aggressive actions are having and proposes model policies to help state legislators push back against an intrusive federal government.”

The report also addresses the implications of pending EPA regulations, including a new standard for ozone, regional haze regulations, coal ash regulation, Clean Water Act expansion, a carbon pollution standard and potential federal hydraulic fracturing regulations. The report argues these regulatory activities threaten the affordability and reliability of electricity generation and the nation’s recent oil and gas boom.

“Congress intended for EPA and states to work together to solve the country’s environmental problems. Since 2009, however, EPA has centralized a great deal of environmental policymaking. Even worse, the agency has found a method, known as sue and settle, to effectively replace states with environmentalist special interests in the regulatory process,” said William Yeatman.