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Rep. Don Young: Obama’s EPA as an Employment Prevention Agency

In case you missed it: Alaskan Congressman Don Young authored an opinion piece in today's Politico about the need to reform the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and put a stop to their job-killing agenda.

Here's a link to the piece: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74072.html


 

Obama’s EPA as an Employment Prevention Agency


By Rep. Don Young

President Barack Obama, in his recent “energy speech,” declared that a key to lower gasoline prices “starts with the need for safe, responsible oil production here in America. We’re not going to transition out of oil anytime soon.”

It was a bold statement and should be commended. However, instead of campaign stumping to college students, perhaps the president should have given this pep talk to his own Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s clear that the EPA has lost its way. Since its inception in 1970, the agency has slowly morphed from an entity with a well-defined mission of cleaning up the environment to one that specializes in natural resource development obstructionism. The EPA is now the gatekeeper, deciding which energy projects move forward and which die in a regulatory labyrinth.

That transition has never been more apparent than under the Obama administration. For three years, the EPA has worked with fringe environmentalists to block more expansive oil production in the U.S. Under current Administrator Lisa Jackson, the EPA regularly bypasses Congress and even scuttles the work of other federal agencies. It does this to advance a radical political agenda, rather than promoting policies that create jobs and make energy more affordable.

We have seen this off the shores of Alaska, where the oil industry stands ready to employ thousands of American workers to drill for the 27 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The EPA — with no experience in permitting offshore drilling operations — failed to develop, after five years and more than $4 billion in industry investment, working air permits for proposed exploration programs in the Arctic.

The result: Congress passed and the president signed legislation transferring authority for permitting oil and gas operations off Alaska’s coast from the EPA to another federal agency.

The EPA also was instrumental in the president’s decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that could create as many as 20,000 U.S. jobs. Because the pipeline would cross the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada, the State Department is the lead agency — and the one that should have the ultimate decision-making power here. But Jackson, despite having no jurisdiction over the $8 billion project, stepped in at the eleventh hour and overruled the State Department’s thorough analysis, which had found the project safe for the environment.

In addition, the EPA has set its sights on U.S. oil refineries, a backbone of our hard-hit manufacturing sector. Ill-conceived greenhouse gas rules, which threaten jobs and could cost refiners millions of dollars in capital improvement, have loomed over the industry for months. The EPA delayed them again in December — with no word on when it plans to announce the final rule.

Refiners are left paralyzed, unable to invest, expand and hire more workers because they’re unable to plan for the future costs of EPA rules. In fact, three refineries in the Philadelphia area are closing and one reason is the constant threat of the EPA’s regulatory hammer.

Alaskan refineries have felt a similar pinch. A 2011 EPA mandate forced a small refinery in Kenai, Alaska, to build a $70 million tower to reduce the amount of benzene in the gasoline being produced. That addition followed a $45 million EPA-required upgrade just three years earlier. And more costs are to come. “That’s just to remain in the gasoline business,” a company official said.

The bottom line for consumers? Higher gas prices. The bottom line for workers? Fewer jobs.

Time and time again, the EPA has played Lucy, treating America’s energy producers like Charlie Brown. But with gas prices fast approaching $4 a gallon and unemployment stagnant at 8.3 percent, the EPA should be encouraging innovation and investment — not turning domestic oil production into a political football.

We all want our air and oceans to be clean. But the deluge of EPA-required studies and reports does nothing to get Americans back to work or secure our energy future. If Obama is serious about change, it should start at the EPA.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) serves as a senior Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and House Natural Resources Committee.

This OP-ED first appeared in Politico.

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