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Public Statements

President Obama's Toxic Regulation Regime

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WEST. Mr. Speaker, I rise today not only as a Member of Congress, but as a citizen of the great State of Florida.

My fellow Floridians are frustrated with the Federal Government for imposing more and more burdensome regulations that continue to hurt our already struggling State and Nation. The President's policies have failed and are making this economy worse. While the President continues to give speeches on the principles of job growth, his administration continues to pursue job-killing policies that threaten this country's economic recovery. In fact, since President Obama took office, we've seen a 52 percent increase in completed regulations deemed economically significant. These regulations are costing the economy at least $100 million each year.

Mr. Speaker, this is worth repeating so the American people clearly understand: since January of 2009, this President has increased by more than 50 percent the regulations costing at least $100 million annually. The President cannot stand on his record of the last 3 1/2 years, so he has regrettably turned to the politics of envy and division.

We cannot create a fair system for job creators when the Federal Government keeps changing the rules. We can't help the job seeker by punishing the job creator with more government red tape. According to a September 2010 report from the Small Business Administration, total regulatory costs amount to $1.75 trillion annually.

Put another way, this $1.75 trillion of regulatory burden is enough money for businesses to provide 35 million private sector jobs with an average salary of $50,000. According to the same report:

Small businesses which have created 64 percent of all new jobs in the past 15 years face an annual regulatory cost of $10,585 per employee, which is 36 percent higher than the regulatory costs facing large firms.

Yet rather than provide incentives for these businesses to expand and create jobs, the Obama administration raises taxes and imposes unnecessary, burdensome layers of red tape that impede private sector investment and destroy jobs.

In the last few months, we've heard a lot about fairness from the President, especially when it comes to the so-called rich. Accompanying President Obama's budget for fiscal year 2013 was a simple message to the American people: everyone must shoulder their fair share.

Mr. President, the free market is not about fairness. This is not Little League baseball where everyone gets a trophy. There is nothing fair about the Federal Government telling you what kind of lightbulbs you can use to light your home, how many gallons of water you can use to flush your toilet, and which kinds of food your children have to consume.

While the President continues his ``Kansas City shuffle'' trying to get the American people to look right while he goes left, he continues to try and turn the attention of the American people away from his policies that continue to drag the economy down.

The facts speak for themselves. Today, there are more Federal regulations on the books than in any other time in the history of our Nation. The Obama administration currently has proposed 3,118 regulations with 167 considered economically significant.

In 2011 alone, Mr. Speaker, there were 79,000 new pages printed in the Federal Register. The same year, the Obama administration issued $231.4 billion in regulatory burdens from proposed or final rules.

Today, there are 291,676 unelected Federal regulatory agency employees surrounding the United States Capitol. According to the Financial Services Roundtable, it will take 24,503 employees just to comply with the flood of regulations emanating from the Dodd-Frank banking regulations.

According to a February 15, 2012, Gallup poll, 48 percent of small businesses said they were not hiring due to concerns about possible rising health care costs, while 46 percent said they were worried about new government regulations.

A 2010 study by The Heritage Foundation found that an unprecedented 43 major regulations were imposed in fiscal year 2010, with a total economic cost of $26.5 billion, the highest total since at least 1981.

A recent report from The Heritage Foundation also found that during the 3 years of the Obama administration, a total of 106 new major regulations have been imposed at a cost of more than $46 billion annually and nearly $11 billion in one-time implementation costs. This amount is about five times the cost imposed by the prior administration of President George W. Bush.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is essential the American people understand just a few proposed Obama administration regulations that will cost each of us billions of dollars:

Reconsideration of the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Estimated cost: $19 billion to $90 billion. It was withdrawn in September 2011.

National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Coal and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units. Estimated cost: $10 billion.

National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Source Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters. Estimated cost: $3 billion.

Standards for the Management of Coal Combustion Residuals Generated by Commercial Electric Power Producers. Estimated cost: $6 million to $1.5 billion.

Require motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce to use electronic onboard recorders to document their drivers' hours. Estimated cost: $2 billion.

Hours of service on commercial motor vehicle drivers. Estimated cost: $1 billion.

A Consumer Product Safety Commission rule deeming children's books printed prior to 1986 to be potentially toxic due to the possibility of excessive lead in the ink, even though the actual risk of the lead exposure from older books ranks only about 0.5 on a scale of one to 10, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nonetheless, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has urged libraries to put older children's books in storage until they can be tested for lead toxicity--at a cost of $300 to $500 for each book.

The Federal Government's attempt to regulate the precise moisture, temperature, and chemical standards of compost for use in producing certified organic foods.

The Department of Energy's desire to rewrite water efficiency standards for the Nation's urinals--yes, rewrite water efficiency standards for the Nation's urinals, that's correct, Mr. Speaker.

An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declaration that requiring a high school diploma as a job certification has a disparate impact on certain individuals that failed to meet such a standard.

A Department of Justice regulation requiring enhanced access for disabled individuals at public and private facilities such as swimming pools.

And of course Numeric Nutrient Criteria, which I will discuss later.

It's no surprise why entrepreneurship in the United States of America is at a 17-year low. In 2010, the Obama administration published 82,480 pages of regulations. Two comprehensive legislative packages--the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank banking regulations--were passed and scheduled to regulate greenhouse gases as well for the first time ever in the history of this country.

In 2011, agencies finalized $187 million in deregulatory actions, and proposed more than $1.1 billion in rescissions. However, these deregulatory measures were dwarfed by the new regulations that the administration published just this year.

For proposed or final rules, the Obama administration published $231.4 billion in regulatory burdens and 133 million paperwork burden hours. Assuming a 2,000-hour work year, it would take 66,730 employees just to file the Federal paperwork.

On average, Mr. Speaker, eliminating the job of a single regulator would grow the American economy by $6.2

million and nearly 100 private sector jobs annually. The reverse is true as well: each million-dollar increase in the regulatory budget costs the economy 420 private sector jobs.

A recent article in The Economist highlighted the increased complexity caused by ObamaCare, citing that ``every hour spent treating a patient in America creates at least 30 minutes of paperwork, and often a whole hour.''

Next year, the number of Federally mandated categories of illness and injury for which hospitals must claim reimbursement will rise from 18,000 to 140,000.

There are nine codes, Mr. Speaker, relating to injuries caused by parrots--yes, parrots--and three relating to burns emanating from flaming water skis.

Let's be real clear at this point of time: The only jobs created by regulations are jobs for regulators and more regulators. What I notice when I ride up and down Federal and Dixie Highways in south Florida are the numbers of closed storefronts, the numbers of vacant spaces. However, when I fly into Washington, D.C., Mr. Speaker, I see the number of sky cranes building more housing and office space for these regulators.

The number of Federal workers employed in regulatory activities--excluding the TSA--has jumped 20 percent since 2008 while total workforce participation in the United States of America is at a 30-year low.

Our Nation has faced 3 years of unemployment at or above 8 percent. Mr. Speaker, do you want to guess what the employment rate is in Washington, D.C.? In May, the unemployment in the Washington, D.C., metro area was 5.3 percent.

Of course, the environment is only one area of regulatory overreach by the Obama administration. In its review of overregulated America, The Economist magazine noted that the Dodd-Frank banking law, at 848 pages, is 23 times longer than the preceding Glass-Steagall Act. These regulations are choking off the oxygen of growth in this country, especially in our area of south Florida.

Mr. Speaker, let me take a moment to talk about an example which is taking place in our congressional district. In 2006, Rybovich Yachts became the only company in the United States capable of repairing mega-yachts with the opening of its facility in West Palm Beach. The company took a dilapidated boatyard and turned it into the finest repair facility in the world. This facility now employs 230 workers directly and as many as 300 subcontractors each and every day. The facility quickly exceeded all business expectations, attracting commerce from around the globe and cementing south Florida's leadership position in the marine industry.

Last year, this facility generated $5.5 million in local and State tax revenue. Consider the regulatory hurdles Rybovich had to leap through, the mountains of paperwork in order to get a permit issued, and the burdensome red tape they endured every step of the way.

Mr. Speaker, it is remarkable that any U.S. company chooses to do business on its own shores. To satisfy the environmental regulations and requirements for the first facility, Rybovich was required to inspect and analyze every other possible location in the area to see if there was an alternate site that would have less impact on local sea grass beds.

Once the location was chosen, the environmental impact had to be measured and mitigated one for one. In the case of Rybovich, 5 acres of sea grass needed to be replaced. Since there are limited areas where sea grass could be replanted in the vicinity, the company, Rybovich, a private sector company, had to buy an island, construct a wall around it, and plant sea grass. The island alone cost the company $4 million.

In 2008, Rybovich realized there was market potential for a second facility to service even larger yachts. Construction for this new facility is estimated to create over 600 jobs. The total economic impact from the first 5 years of operations is estimated to be $630 million in Palm Beach County and $111 million in the city of Riviera Beach.

One would think, after going through the permitting process and jumping through all the environmental hurdles to open the first facility, the second would go more smoothly. One would think.

One would think, given the state of our local economy, a new project of this scope would be welcomed with open arms. But, Mr. Speaker, 4 years later, Rybovich still hasn't received a permit for its proposed project in Riviera Beach.

And did I mention the 600 jobs that would be created? That's correct. I did. However, the Federal regulators don't seem to care about that fact.

What is happening to Rybovich is not an isolated incident. This is happening all over the United States. Rybovich is merely a whiff of the toxic bureaucratic fumes emanating from the Obama administration that regulators are using to go choke off job and economic growth with excessive environmental regulation.

Another case in point is the numeric nutrient criteria. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed ludicrous standards for Florida's nitrogen and phosphorus levels for the State's lakes, rivers, streams, and springs.

Until 2009, the State of Florida was working cooperatively with the EPA to improve our water quality standards. However, in 2009, in an attempt to settle a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, the EPA decided to abandon that cooperative approach, federally preempt our water quality State standards, and impose new criteria on our State.

Like all Floridians, I want clean and safe water. For several years now, Florida has been working to improve its water quality, and in many respects, the State's efforts have been a model for other States throughout this country.

As Florida Wildlife Commissioner Ron Bergeron explains, ``A water standard of 10 parts per billion required by numeric nutrient criteria, is more stringent,'' Mr. Speaker, ``than rainwater which is 15 parts per billion, and is a quality of water that is humanly impossible to achieve.''

Even the EPA's own Science Advisory Board has expressed serious concerns about the science used to support the regulation, and the EPA has repeatedly refused to allow a third-party review of the proposal.

But there is no doubt about one thing, Mr. Speaker. This mandate is poisonous to the economy. These regulations are not about whether we want clean water for Florida. These regulations are about how we reach that goal and at what cost.

This EPA mandate, which singles out the State of Florida, will drive up the cost of doing business, double water bills for all Florida families, and will destroy jobs. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates this Federal mandate may force municipal wastewater and storm water utilities to spend as much as $26 billion in capital improvements to upgrade their facilities. This $26 billion will eventually be paid by each Floridian who uses water, and that means every resident.

A study by the University of Florida and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services concluded that the EPA's numeric nutrient criteria regulations would directly cost Florida's agricultural community roughly $1 billion each year, with additional indirect costs also exceeding $1 billion. This billion dollar cost eventually will be paid by every American who wants to enjoy an orange, a grapefruit, or other produce that comes from our State.

The study goes on to say that implementation of the EPA regulations could put more than 14,000 agricultural workers out of a job and would cost the average household up to $990 in higher sewer rates. That is per year, per family, $990 more in higher water bills.

Can our already stagnant economy in Florida take that? Will families move to Florida and choose to buy homes in our already depressed housing market if they're going to have to pay nearly $1,000 more in their annual water bills for years to come?

The EPA has repeatedly refused to allow any third-party review of the science behind the proposed mandate of numeric nutrient criteria. The EPA has also failed to complete an economic analysis.

In a disturbing article in The New York Times on February 16, 2011, an EPA official said they have no plans to implement this regulation in any other State except for the State of Florida.

Excessive EPA regulations hamper business expansion and job growth in nearly every industry. They hurt farmers. They hurt utility workers, pipe fitters, construction workers, coal miners, factory workers, truck drivers, and machinists.

Sixty national companies and dozens of Florida-based companies and organizations, including the United States Chamber of Commerce and the American Farm Bureau, have sent letters to the United States Congress to oppose these burdensome regulations.

Mr. Speaker, we must reduce the regulatory burden on our Nation's businesses and help put Americans back to work. We must get the Federal Government out of the way of our small businesses and entrepreneurs so that they can succeed and prosper.

When there is a need for regulations, they should be developed in concert with the private sector and, of course, done with common sense.

Over the last few months, the United States House of Representatives has passed more than two dozen bills designed to do just that--staunch the toxic regulatory flow coming from the Federal agencies. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, they're all still sitting on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's desk, which really does stink.

John Engler, the President of the Business Roundtable, recently stated that:

Regulations are hidden taxes that strangle job creation. We need action by government agencies to clear out obsolete rules and streamline permitting to reduce delays and impediments for companies to invest and grow.

The private sector is the only hope for future job creation. We need to recognize this and work together to let businesses, small and large, invest in people.

Mr. Speaker, I could not have said that any better.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the remainder of my time.


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