Western GOPs Exhort Congress to Take Back Regulatory Power

Western Republicans charged in a new report today that federal agencies have grown so powerful under the Obama administration that jobs and economic growth are being strangled by increasing red tape.

And, they said, it's only going to get worse unless the legislative branch takes its power back.

Citing the post-election "red-tape rush," the Senate and House Western Caucus members advocate congressional action to stop agency overreach into their regulatory domain.

“Over the past four years, we’ve watched the Obama administration repeatedly circumvent Congress in an attempt to regulate entire industries, like the coal industry, out of existence,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Western Caucus. “Until Congress regains control over the regulatory process, Washington agencies will continue to push forward with their job-crushing, anti-growth agendas."

The report cites the Environmental Protection Agency's rules that constitute the "war on coal," including the New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired power plants, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, and EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals Rule.

"Industries need a fighting chance against EPA unfairly targeting their businesses in this way," the report states. "In order to do that, we need to give businesses the ability to challenge EPA’s flawed scientific data, stop judicial legislating through activist sue-and settle-tactics and create jobs by streamlining environmental permitting of job creating projects."

Currently, the caucuses note, the EPA's statements and figures can't be challenged in court under the Information Quality Act.

And even though regulatory reform has been championed for years, the report adds, executive orders to improve how agencies issue rules or requiring cost-benefit analyses are seldom followed, including President Ford’s Executive Order 11821, President Carter’s Executive Order 12044, President Reagan’s Executive Order 12291, and President Clinton’s Executive Order 12866.

Arguing Congress must take a greater role, the report pushes three pieces of legislation already passed in the House.

Rep. Lamar Smith's (R-Texas) Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 passed 253 - 167 more than a year ago. It would require a federal agency, in the rulemaking process, to make all preliminary and final factual determinations based on "substantial evidence." Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Rep. Tim Griffin's (R-Ark.) Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act passed 245 - 172 at the end of July. It included the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012, the Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2012, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2012, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2012, the Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2012, the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, and the Tracking the Cost to Taxpayers of Federal Litigation Act. It also would require federal agencies to set standards for the scientific information being used in rulemaking.