Regulations kowtow to environmentalists

Who is doing the most to hobble the productive power of the U.S. economy,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson or Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar?

President Barack Obama’s top cabinet appointees on environmental issues are running neck and neck in their race to see who can issue the most job-killing, growth-suffocating bureaucratic edicts. Regardless of who “wins” their contest, of course, the losers will be the rest of us.

We will have to endure long-term double-digit unemployment, skyrocketing energy and utility costs, and the loss of individual freedom that inevitably accompanies the growth of government regulation.

Jackson temporarily nosed ahead early last week when she received the green light from the White House to move forward with new regulations to combat greenhouse gases. Jackson threatened to issue these regulations last year if Congress failed to approve cap-and-trade legislation sought by Obama.

Cap-and-trade was decisively defeated by a bipartisan coalition in Congress earlier this year, and now Jackson is making good on her threat. Her move elicited a chorus of pre-Christmas squeals of delight from the legions of environmentalists angered about congressional rejection of cap-and-trade.

Jackson promises to issue a draft rule next year and a final rule in 2012 that will establish new “performance standards” for power plants and refineries. These standards will drive up the cost of energy, especially the electricity that lights our homes and powers our computers and the fuel that keeps our cars and trucks running.

Not to be outdone, Salazar countered with an audacious end-around play of his own toward the end of the week. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority to manage U.S. public lands. Thus, the Wilderness Areas, national parks system and other public lands are overseen by the Interior Department only because Congress authorized the executive branch department to do so.

Environmentalists went nuts in 2003 when Gail Norton, Salazar’s predecessor in the Bush administration, liberalized the Interior Department’s public lands management process to enable more energy development. So Salazar has invented out of whole cloth a “wild lands” designation that entirely circumvents the congressionally sanctioned process.

Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican and chairman of the Western Caucus in the House, said Salazar’s “decision will seriously hinder domestic energy development and further contributes to the uncertainty and economic distress that continues to prevent the creation of new jobs in a region that has unduly suffered from this administration’s radical policies. This is little more than an early Christmas present to the far-left extremists who oppose the multiple use of our nation’s public lands.”

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