SE Texas Record

Friday, September 20, 2019

Proposed state-focused environmental regulation changes could reduce lawsuits, says expert

By Carrie Salls | Dec 1, 2016


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The Heartland Institute’s “Action Plan for President Trump” calls for a review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current rules and regulations and the establishment of a committee of state environmental leaders to make future policy decisions.  

The institute’s proposal could curb the amount of environmental lawsuits filed against the federal government, according to H. Sterling Burnett, a Heartland Institute research fellow on environmental policy. Many of those environmental regulation-related lawsuits have been filed by the state of Texas against the federal environmental agency.

“The lawsuits largely wouldn’t be needed,” Burnett told the Southeast Texas Record. “The number and severity of the lawsuits will be reduced.”

According to a statement from the institute, Heartland’s energy and environment plan recommends withdrawal from the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the more recent Paris Accord and for ending funding for the United Nations’ climate change programs, in particular the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Green Climate Fund.

In addition, the plan suggests replacing the EPA with a committee of the whole, comprised of the 50 state environmental protection agencies, which already have primary responsibility for implementing environmental laws passed by Congress and regulations written by the EPA.

“Over five years the regulatory responsibility of the EPA would be removed from it,” Burnett said. “It would be an information only agency.”

Burnett said the regulatory authority would go to a compact with the states. The committee would have 150 members, and the group would be based somewhere in the middle of the country. He said Kansas City, Missouri, has been proposed as one potential home base for the committee.

The committee would review EPA rules to determine which are helpful and remove the bad ones. After the five-year transition period Burnett said “this committee would determine which environmental rules work for the states.”

According to Burnett, one driving force behind the proposed state-focused committee is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

“Different regions, different states have different environmental problems,” Burnett said.

Burnett also said the EPA was originally established to set minimum standards for environmental compliance in the United States.

“The EPA was to set the terms,” he said. “The states were to monitor and enforce. That was never meant to be the role of the EPA.”

Burnett said the current system of environmental regulation takes away power from the states, and widespread nationwide rules set and enforced by the EPA can hurt businesses.

“Businesses can be shut down [because of EPA rules],” Burnett said.

The EPA declined comment on the environmental regulation recommendations.

In all, Heartland’s action plan encompasses a list of 34 free-market domestic policy recommendations. Unlike the environmental regulatory changes that would be phased in over a period of five years, the institute said many of the recommendations can be implemented immediately.

In addition to an environmental plan, Heartland’s recommendations call for changes in the areas of education, budgetary and tax plans, health care reform and constitutional reform, including repealing President Obama’s executive orders related to environmental protection, trade, health care, immigration and foreign policy.

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Organizations in this Story

Heartland Institute State of Texas U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)