A thoughtful and knowledgeable individual like Myron Ebell appears to be perfectly suited to lead the transition to a new EPA.
President-elect Donald Trump has named Myron Ebell to head up his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The news was met with name-calling, even though Ebell agrees with the same position taken by a former top scientist with the Obama administration, Steve Koonin (formerly of Cal Tech) namely, that scientists simply do not know what fraction of observed global warming is due to manmade CO2 emissions.
Consequently, Ebell has expressed concern about EPA positions, including the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s controversial power plan is based on an inadequate understanding of global warming and should not drive our middle class into energy poverty against congressional will.
Based on my experience as the secretary of a State Environmental Department, here are some observations I’d like to offer Ebell for his consideration.
It is critical to understand that while the federal government, through Congress, establishes the overall goals of environmental protection through laws like the Clean Air and Water acts, the implementation of those laws is by state governments.
Consequently, America has made tremendous strides in environmental protection over the last decades. We are breathing cleaner air and have cleaner water than ever before.
State governments and their citizens have demonstrated the ability to implement programs that protect our environment without destroying the very thing that makes environmental protection possible: a strong economy.
Over the last eight years the Obama administration has abandoned this successful approach to environmental protection as envisioned by Congress. Instead, they have turned to special interest groups to drive centralized planning. Prime examples include the 2015 EPA Power Plan and the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
These rules contain illusory flexibility to states when in reality they represent a huge shift of control from states to the federal government. Even the current administration acknowledged that the power plan was symbolic and would do little to improve air quality.
The power plan would be expensive and shut down energy plants that have not yet been paid for, thereby stranding those costs with ratepayers. It would harm the industrial sector by significantly increasing electricity rates, which would throttle manufacturing industries that require low energy prices to compete.
Similarly, under WOTUS land use decisions would be federalized. Our nation’s agricultural industry would be hamstrung by costly and unnecessary land use restrictions, which would stifle growth opportunities. The expansion of manufacturing, commercial and residential development would be left to federal bureaucrats.
Fortunately, dozens of states and state agencies stood their ground against the federal government and won stays against these rules. In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Supreme Court reached down into an appeals court to place the power plan on hold until the legal challenge against it could be resolved. The waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule was also stayed. We hope the Trump EPA will review existing rules and base its policy decisions on sound data and measurable results.