To the Editor:
In his article “Putting the Reins” on overzealous D.C. bureaucrats (OPINION, Tuesday March 13, 2012) Brian Bush promotes passage of a new law, the REINS Act, that is completely unnecessary and would only serve to impede the legislative process. He admits that it is unnecessary in his article but promotes it anyway. What we need from our legislators is solutions to problems, not impediments to the process.
Contrary to Bush’s statement that “agencies like EPA can pass regulations as they see fit,” there exists a process that must be followed before any new regulation can be promulgated. First, Congress must pass a law that makes the new regulation necessary. Agencies in the executive department enforce that law by designing and issuing regulations. The design process includes various studies of the economic, social and environmental impacts; consultations are held with affected constituencies; and only then are proposed regulations drafted.
Those proposed regulations are published in the Federal Register with a request for comments over a period of usually 90 days. In some cases a public hearing is held so that concerned people can present arguments in person. Those comments and arguments are considered and the proposed regulations altered accordingly. Only then are final regulations adopted and published in the Federal Register.
As Bush points out, Congress can act at any time, during the design process, or even after the new regulation is promulgated, to stop its implementation. There is no need for special cases, like a $100 million impact. There is ample opportunity for such consideration in the design and public review process.
Bush’s real beef seems to be his frustration with the EPA’s investigation of the hydraulic fracturing process, and the threat that some new requirement might be placed on the industry. The EPA is doing its job as mandated by Congress. The investigation is ongoing and no decision has been made regarding the extent of drinking water pollution. Surely it is in the best interests of the American people that the investigation be thorough.
I am suspicious of Bush’s statement that “our entrepreneurs and business owners should be free to pursue the best practices.” That depends on what their definition of “best” is. Is it best for their bottom line, or is it best for the American people? Sometimes both definitions may be true, but not always. That is why we have an EPA, a FDA, an OSHA and many other regulatory agencies. Without them we would revert to the days of robber barons, company towns, snake oil salesmen and acid rain that destroys our natural heritage.
Leaman D. Harris