Support H.R. 861 to Abolish the EPA
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been bedeviling Americans since 1970. Many have felt the sting of its steep fines, heavy costs to comply with questionable edicts, and occasional shutdowns of factories whose owners simply throw in the towel. “It’s all worth it,” say most environmentalists. “We’ve got to have clean air and clean water, and if there are casualties along the way, so be it.”
Perhaps the most common attitude expressed by determined environmentalists is that, like it or not, EPA’s laws have to be obeyed. Add to that the oft-repeated claim “once a law is on the books, everyone must comply.”
But there’s a fundamental problem underlying this thinking. It is that the EPA didn’t result from a properly enacted law passed by Congress, a route required by the very first sentence in the U.S. Constitution. This regularly ignored dictum states, “All legislative power herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States….” If you understand the meaning of “all,” you can readily see that the constitutional intent left no openings for other ways to make law. The EPA’s birth didn’t arise through use of congressional law-making power. It resulted from a December 2, 1970, Executive Order penned by President Richard Nixon.
Congress had already passed legislation known as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Then came the EPA. Once in the books via the Nixon executive order, the EPA (a swiftly growing federal bureaucracy) took over enforcement of those measures. The agency’s reach has grown exponentially over the years. In the mid-1970s, a U.S. Steel plant in Indiana faced enormous EPA-promulgated fines and chose to close down with the loss of 500 jobs. Kennecott and Consolidated Copper also closed down for similar reasons. Numerous other firms did likewise. Where fines had to be paid to call off the dogs of the EPA, some companies raised their prices and passed along those additional expenses to the general population.
The EPA then targeted the automobile industry. EPA lover Al Gore (who almost became President via the 2000 election) chimed with his astounding 1992 book Earth in the Balance. Among other excesses, it called for “completely eliminating the internal combustion engine over, say, a 25-year period.” That means automobiles and trucks. Gore still uses both.
In 1989, Stanford University Professor Stephen Schneider, an EPA cheerleader, spoke of the “ethical” problem surrounding any defense of environmental claims. He addressed the need to get some “broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination.” How to do that? He stated:
So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
The EPA started its crusade with arbitrary dictates regarding air and water. It then spread into issuing rules regarding land use, endangered species, waste disposal, radiation, and supposed global warming (now termed “climate change”). By 2016, the EPA had 15,376 employees and an annual budget of $8 billion. It continues to grow.
To counter all of this, freshman Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has introduced H.R. 861, a measure seeking total abolition of the EPA. His entire bill, a single sentence, reads: “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” A former veteran state legislator, he claims to have had “a front row seat to the failures of the federal government in protecting the environment.” Noting that “the American people are drowning in rules and regulations promulgated by unelected bureaucrats,” he proposes that there’s no need whatsoever for the EPA and sensible environmental protection should be handled at state and local levels.
H.R. 861 deserves support in Congress and among the American people, especially those who believe in a government limited by the U.S. Constitution.
Take action by calling your representative (202-225-3121) and senators (202-224-3121) to cosponsor this bill to abolish the unconstitutional Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.