Yesterday South Carolina became the 12th state to enter a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over the EPA’s proposed rules for power plants aimed at reducing the nation’s carbon pollution.
The lawsuit challenge’s the EPA’s power to issue regulations to enforce federal law. In reference to the EPA’s actions South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is quoted as saying that it “is bad because federal bureaucrats can’t be allowed to make up the rules as they go along.”
Mr. Wilson obviously doesn’t understand that federal agencies are expected to interpret laws Congress passes by issuing rules of enforcement. Yes, they actually make up the rules because Congress doesn’t do this detailed work. And it is these rules that Mr. Wilson and all of us expect will keep us healthy and protect our business communities from the extreme adverse impacts of environmental disasters.
Climate change is a slow moving environmental disaster and thus is an easy target for Mr. Wilson and others to deny that it is happening because of the difficulty of tying a specific incident to a warming planet. If you don’t believe in science, it is easy to be a denier.
However, this is not the case for water quality where two pollution disasters this year alone have impacted over 700,000 residents and the entire business community in two different incidents. The EPA is also responsible for issuing regulations on water and has recently issued proposed rules to better protect all of us. These too, of course, are also being challenged. Here the opposition has to claim that it wants clean water but not so much clean water regulation that some businesses might find it more difficult to comply. Better to risk the lives and economy of all than to ask for a few to make some changes according to opponents.
David Beckman, executive director of the Pisces Foundation, has written an excellent opinion editorial for The New York Times about clean water and the important role of the EPA in “making up rules” to ensure the water we drink is safe.
Too bad Mr. Wilson wasn’t in Charleston, WV, and Toledo, Ohio, this year to personally experience what happens when EPA rules are not adequate to protect our lives and our economy. Maybe then he would stop wasting millions of our tax dollars on his “frivolous lawsuit” against the EPA.