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The Hill - Bureaucratic Overreach Strangles Small Businesses

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By Representative Bob Gibbs

Congress needs to both cut spending and grow the economy to fix our nation's $14 trillion debt crisis. We have already begun to reduce out-of-control federal spending, but fundamental reforms are necessary to remove the burdensome regulations on businesses.

Regulations are particularly burdensome on our small businesses, due to the complexity of complying with these their countless requirements and mandates. Job-creating small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms, employ over half of all private sector employees, and have created 64 percent of new jobs over the past 15 years. Yet they are forced to bear a disproportionate share of the more than $1.75 trillion federal regulatory burden. The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates costs of more than $10,000 per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees in compliance costs alone.

Furthermore, members of the National Federation of Independent Business consistently rank government regulations and red tape as the most important problems facing businesses today. One in five business owners explain that red tape is their single biggest concern -- even over taxes, inflation, and the cost of labor.

The biggest culprit is the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency is engaged in a number of new, over-reaching regulatory efforts that would cripple the ability of American businesses to compete. While the business community understands the benefits of caring for the environment, the EPA adopts new rules and guidance that create burdensome and costly obligations that provide no quantifiable benefits to human health or the environment.

There has been an exponential increase in regulations coming out of EPA in recent months or planned for the near future. Many of these regulatory efforts are based on questionable science and stand to substantially increase the regulatory burdens for states, local governments, and businesses, especially small businesses. EPA is making a mockery of the Administration's Regulatory Review Initiative to reduce regulatory burdens in our country.

More bothersome than new EPA regulations are the so-called "guidance' coming out of the agency in an attempt to in an attempt to circumvent the process for changing Agency policy without following a proper, transparent rulemaking process.

The jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA under the Clean Water Act is currently restricted to the "navigable waters of the United States." The term "navigable" has been interpreted by the US Supreme Court in recent years in a series of court cases, yet the EPA is working on a new "guidance" that would effectively change the meaning of "navigable waters" to mean "anything that gets wet."

This means that the EPA could potentially regulate anyone or anything that comes in contact with water, even a regular citizen washing their car in their driveway. This dramatic overreach of bureaucratic authority could result in a massive increase in regulations on not only the business community, but even individual citizens who could face dramatic compliance costs and even citizen lawsuits.

The bottom line; the EPA has grown out of control in recent years. With billions of dollars in budget increases under the Obama administration, the agency has been given free rein to go after our businesses, small and large. Bureaucrats do not have to stand for election before the American people, and therefore feel a sense of invincibility in pursuing their own personal agendas, much like the EPA and their "guidance' process. It is my job, and the job of my colleagues in Congress, to put a stop to this activity and hold the EPA accountable.


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