Biden-Harris Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan is clearly on a mission. He has “bold aspirations, and a long to-do list,” says The Washington Post. But to succeed, the Post acknowledges, he must “help the EPA get its groove back.” As Reagan put it, “We’ve got a lot of work to do, starting with rebuilding staff morale and getting all our staff back to feeling as if they matter, their voices matter.”
Regan says his job is “to restore the scientific integrity and the utilization of data, of facts, as we move forward, and make some very important decisions.” His second goal is to increase “cooperation” between the EPA and its “subordinate” state environmental agencies. EPA will dictate; states will fall in line.
A big step toward that goal was extending a Memorandum of Agreement between the EPA, the Environmental Council of the States, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. According to Regan, “EPA is committed to building on the values of transparency, respect, and an open dialogue that are the cornerstone of a successful partnership with the states.” As EPA defines the terms.
An Obama-appointed federal judge just restored the EPA’s use of “secret science” in formulating regulations that businesses and industries must follow just because the EPA says so – with “scientific evidence” that cannot be cross-examined. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris (in Great Falls, Montana) took just hours before vacating the Trump EPA rule that would have ended this Star Chamber style rule.
For decades, the EPA relied on unreviewable studies to impose draconian restrictions on businesses and industries, and thus on the U.S. economy. Trump wanted to bring true transparency to the process. Opponents claimed the Trump secret science” rule would block the use of critical public health studies kept secret supposedly to protect the identities of trial participants – which of course was not the case.
As Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler explained, the “secret science” rule in no way blocked previous “secret” studies; rather, it created tiers in which preference is given to studies with public data. Peer reviewers looking at a study’s raw data did not need to know any of the subject’s names, so no patient confidentiality was at risk. Moreover, in most cases, a review of basic methods, statistics and results is sufficient to determine if they actually support the study’s conclusion. Wheeler also noted:
“Too often Congress shirks its responsibility and defers important decisions to regulatory agencies. These regulators then invoke science to justify their actions, often without letting the public study the underlying data. Part of transparency is making sure the public knows what the agency bases its decisions on.”
Now the Biden-Harris EPA has revived its old policy based on a failed 2015 (Obama-Biden) rulemaking that twists the Clean Air Act language in an effort to destroy auto racing as a sport in the USA.
The EPA claims modifying a vehicle previously certified for street driving for use as a competition-only racecar is unlawful even for vehicles that are trailered and never driven on public roads again. This policy seeks to end a 50-year-old American tradition. It has no precedent; even California exempts racing vehicles from regulation.
Not only does the EPA claim it is illegal to convert a vehicle for racing by modifying its emission system; it claims manufacturing, selling or installing race parts for such vehicles is likewise unlawful. It’s even said enforcement actions against high performance parts – including superchargers, tuners and exhaust systems – will now be a top priority.
This policy constitutes a direct assault on the nation’s 1,300 racetracks, tens of thousands of participants and vehicle owners, and millions of racing fans nationwide. It is also a death blow to retail sales of racing products, a $2 billion a year industry. The move appears to be part of the Obama-Biden-Harris EPA strategy to rid the planet (or at least the USA) of internal combustion engines by taking away the romance of the racecar.
To thwart this likely unconstitutional EPA power grab, the Specialty Equipment Market Association has filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in a lawsuit by Gear Box Z, Inc. challenging the racecar conversion ban. The industry group also supports the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act (RPM Act), which reaffirms the legality of converting street vehicles into race-only vehicles and confirms the legitimacy of producing, marketing and installing racing equipment.
They should prevail. But with today’s courts, do even the most specific, commonsense laws still matter?
A recent Wall Street Journal editorial says the Biden-Harris EPA has a secret plan to force massive CO2 emissions reductions under the Clean Air Act, using ozone as its vehicle of choice. “Plan B” is the fallback strategy to be implemented once it is clear that even the Democrat-controlled Congress will not enact economy-killing anti-fossil fuel legislation. The ultimate goal is total fossil fuel eradication.
Under Plan B, EPA will reset the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to zero – way below natural levels that Mother Nature herself emits! The “science” is based on a questionable 2017 study from Harvard’s T. C. Chan School of Public Health, which claims there is no safe level of ozone in the atmosphere. How do you prosecute Mother Nature?
Plan B responds to the failure of the Obama-Biden Clean Power Plan, which was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. It reflects former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s blunt admission that it is technically infeasible and even legally questionable to regulate CO2 as a “criteria pollutant” under the Clean Air Act.
The simple reasons are fundamental. CO2 is what humans and animals exhale. It is what plants inhale to support photosynthesis and produce the oxygen that most life on Planet Earth requires to exist. It does not cause asthma or other diseases. CO2 emissions generated in a locality cannot be measured reliably and certainly cannot be reduced within the 10-year timetable for criteria pollutants. CO2 is not a pollutant.
Using ozone and the NAAQS to regulate CO2 is reportedly the brainchild of Joe Goffman, whom the Biden-Harris Administration has installed as principal deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Goffman, a chief architect of the Obama era Clean Power Plan, is known as EPA’s “law whisperer.” His specialty is “teaching old laws to do new tricks.”
Goffman’s plan was jump-started on January 19, 2021, when 16 Democratic state attorneys-general filed a legal challenge to the EPA’s recently reauthorized ozone NAAQS. Their one-paragraph sue-and-settle lawsuit claims the standards are “unlawful, arbitrary and capricious and therefore must be vacated.”
The Trump EPA in December 2020 had retained the ozone NAAQS at levels set in 2015 by the Obama-Biden Administration. That action marked only the second time since the 1970 Clean Air Act was enacted that EPA completed its ozone NAAQS review within the mandatory 5-year timeframe.
As the Wall Street Journal explains, Democratic AGs, green groups and top Biden environmental regulators intend to impose the Green New Deal on states through backdoor regulations, because they know they can’t get it through the front door of Congress, even this sycophantic Congress.
Under this nefarious scheme – which could be imposed this year without any “open dialogue” in Congress – every state would be forever out of compliance, JunkScience.com director Steve Milloy emphasizes. It is simply impossible to eliminate natural background levels of ozone. But this action would give EPA effective and arbitrary control over the entire economy, especially fossil fuel use.
Giving unelected bureaucrats and a like-minded political cabal “effective and arbitrary control” over the entire U.S. economy creates a dictatorship of faceless and nameless totalitarians whose diktats the political class can claim they are powerless to upend. This is where America is headed, unless we stop these power-crazed autocrats.
Duggan Flanakin is director of policy research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org). His career includes overseeing publication of scientific research at the U.S. Bureau of Mines and in-depth reporting on regulatory agencies, environmental education, and science policy.