A Plan to Replace the EPA

July 22, 2014

Jay Lehr, science director at the Heartland Institute, has a five-year plan to replace the Environmental Protection Agency with 50 state agencies.

Lehr, a national authority on groundwater hydrology, was one of the original panelists who studied, and recommended, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1971. But what started as an effort to protect the environment and public health became a full-fledged political organization. Beginning in the 1980s, the EPA became a way for activist groups to advance their political agendas, Lehr writes. Today, it costs $2 trillion per year for Americans to comply with all federal regulations, and the EPA is responsible for half of that regulatory cost.

Lehr offers a solution: dismantling the EPA and replacing it with a Committee of the Whole, composed of the 50 state environmental protection agencies. Those state agencies have spent 30 years implementing federal environmental laws and are more than capable of protecting the environment without federal oversight.

Lehr's five-year plan is as follows:

  • Dismantle the national EPA, with the exception of the EPA's research laboratories. Those laboratories can continue to perform research, though state-funded research efforts should compete with the federal research lab, in order to keep the laboratories above-board.
  • Cut the EPA budget down to 20 percent of current levels. That 20 percent could run the aforementioned research labs and administer the Committee of the Whole.
  • Reduce staff from 15,000 employees to 300 employees, comprised of six delegates from each of the 50 states. Those employees would work at a new headquarters in Topeka, Kansas. Topeka would allow close contact with the states and would reduce travel costs.
  • In the first year, begin relocating new Committee of the Whole Employees to Topeka, Kansas.
  • Over the next four years, transfer activities from the EPA's 14 federal offices to the Topeka office.

The Committee of the Whole would assess all national EPA regulations and determine which ones were mandated by law and which had been established without approval from Congress. The Committee would vote to continue those rules that had been mandated by law or would request Congressional repeal. The Committee would vote on all rules not mandated by law individually, requiring a two-thirds vote for alteration or repeal.

Moving the Committee from the EPA's headquarters in Washington, D.C., to Topeka would keep the regulators away from Washington corruption, and the 50 state agencies would be less vulnerable to lobbying, Lehr writes, than their EPA counterparts.

Source: Jay Lehr, "Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency," Heartland Institute, July 2014. 

 

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