I have the privilege of living in a beautiful area of southeast Tennessee. The county I call home has natural beauty; wonderful mountains, breathtaking lakes, an abundance of wildlife, and stunning farms. I, nor anyone of my neighbors or community members, want to see this poetic scenery change. After all, this is where people hunt, fish, hike, and call home. Unlike what those on the left would have you believe, I do not want people to drink dirty water or breathe polluted air. I am a conservative who believes in smaller government, local control, and that individuals should be good stewards of what God has given to us. I think sustainability is a good thing and I believe conservation and habitat management allows future generations to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.
This was after all the very idea when in December of 1970, former President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect and monitor environmental quality.
What once was a noble idea, the EPA has quickly changed. Since the early 1990s, the EPA has become a bloated, overgrown, federal administrative state. What started as a simple agency of the executive branch has risen to a level far more powerful than numerous Cabinet departments.
According to a House Subcommittee on Energy and Power study in 2016, the EPA, under President Obama, published over 3,900 rules, averaging almost 500 annually, and amounting to over 33,000 new pages to the Federal Register. The compliance costs associated with EPA regulations under President Obama number in the hundreds of billions and grew by more than $50 billion in annual costs. Such high costs, especially those related to the energy sector, ripple throughout the economy, impacting GDP, killing thousands of jobs, and increasing the cost of consumer goods.
As I read the report, all I could think about was President Reagan’s words of wisdom, “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
Then on Monday, while I was waiting to listen to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer brief the Washington Press Corps, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was called to the Brady Press Room and announced the following.
After years of waste, fuzzy math, and fake reductions, according to Politico.com, the White House has proposed slashing the EPA’s budget by about a quarter and eventually eliminating one in five of the agency’s workers. The proposal would set EPA’s budget at $6.1 billion, down from its current level of $8.1 billion.
That number would be the lowest proposed budget for the EPA since the George H.W. Bush administration. In fact, according to sources in the White House, the EPA’s 15,000 workforce could be lowered to 12,000.
Monday’s proposal is part of the early stages of the Trump administration’s budget-crafting process. Federal departments will return the proposals with comments in the coming days. The OMB will then review the requests and announced a “budget blueprint” on March 16. A full, detailed budget plan will not be released until late this spring.
On the day that President Trump will speak to the nation in front of Congress, this is a great first step for farmers, ranchers, small business owners, or general proponents of a smaller federal government in wrangling in the EPA.