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The Hill - Earth Day 41 Years Later: A New Crisis


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By Congressman Mike Pompeo

Forty-one years after Earth Day began, our country has made tremendous progress. The conversation has changed. People from every corner of our country, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, all agree we want clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. Everyone understands the value of being good stewards of the resources God has made available to man.

The summers I spent working on my aunt's farm in Winfield, Kansas have instilled in me a deep personal love for the land and its importance to human well-being. Unfortunately, the Obama administration and its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have lost sight of our shared common goals and are instead advancing a radical, left-wing, ideological agenda, tantamount to faith because it is without reason, which narrowly focuses on eliminating fossil fuels.

Even before I entered Congress, I've known of EPA's rogue behavior from my days spent running a small business and from conversations with Kansas families whose livelihoods have been put in jeopardy by reckless government behavior. For too many at EPA, it is no longer about human health and safety, but about achieving environmental perfection as they imagine it.

The harm here is not solely to those families and businesses. Rather, disregard for jobs, economic growth and wealth creation will inevitably result in poorer environmental outcomes and the destruction of human health and well-being. It takes resources to improve health, and data show clearly that nations that are wealthier are inevitably better stewards of their natural resources.

In my first 100 days, I've seen EPA's lack of concern for jobs and families firsthand. Just 8 days ago, the Energy and Commerce Committee, of which I am a member, examined the EPA's Maximum Achievable Cost Technology (MACT) rules for boilers, cement facilities, and power plants. According to EPA's own estimates, the MACT rules will impose more than $14 billion in annual costs on our manufacturing and electric utility sectors. No material improvement to human health will result.

EPA has also exploited global warming hysteria, engaging in an unprecedented power grab from Congress by unilaterally regulating greenhouse gases. By willfully misinterpreting the 2007 Supreme Court Case Massachusetts v. EPA, and clearly ignoring congressional intent, the EPA will add a costly and burdensome new regulation to 1.2 million businesses that will do nothing to improve actual air quality.

Earth Day may have started as a national teach-in, but it has turned into a nightmarish lesson of what not to do. EPA, under the guise of environmental protection, has created a climate of fear in which jobs are lost and energy prices skyrocket. EPA, it seems, could not care less, admitting in a recent Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing that the agency does not directly examine the impact of its regulations on jobs.

As I said, every American wants clean air to breathe. That is not the dispute. However, we cannot achieve our shared goal through impossible mandates from an Administration that shrugs off the negative impact its regulations are having on job creation and energy prices as the simple cost of doing business.

We should take time on Earth Day 2011 to talk about real environmental protection. Let's start by ceasing to treat industry like an adversary that needs to be defeated. We can protect the environment if we work together as a nation and propose common sense workable solutions, not EPA power grabs based on anti-fossil fuel ideology.

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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