An Open Letter to the EPA
By Reps. Mike Conaway, Jeb Hensarling & Sam Johnson
Throughout the anemic Obama “recovery,” one of the bright spots in the economy has been the oil and gas sector. At a time when many Americans were struggling with unemployment or underemployment, this industry has provided good paying jobs. In Texas, the oil and gas industry is responsible for nearly 2 million jobs and more than 20% of the state’s economy.
Yet today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a public hearing in Dallas on a series of new proposed regulations on the oil and gas industry. These regulations, like most from the EPA, are redundant, unnecessary, and do very little- if anything- to achieve the intended purpose. Worse yet, many of the EPA’s regulations over the last few years have been severely heavy-handed and completely off base.
Unfortunately, this is all too often the case with the rules and regulations that pour out of the EPA. It’s easy to wonder if the EPA is truly listening to the concerns of the American people. The EPA should be concerned with affordable, accessible energy that promotes job creation and economic growth. It should also take into account the fact that each state is different. A one-size-fits-all approach simply isn’t logical. Texas in particular has a very unique landscape and geology.
This isn’t the first instance of the EPA overreaching and attempting to implement job-killing regulations. Earlier this year, the EPA proposed moving the entire Dallas-Fort Worth metro area into a Severe Ozone Category, which would trigger a new set of stringent regulations governing the air in the region. This could severely harm the remarkable economic growth and job creation we have seen in our area over the last few decades. Sadly, the EPA hasn’t taken into account the fact that our area is home to several of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. In fact, despite tremendous increases in population over the last few decades, the DFW area has actually seen its ozone emissions decrease significantly.
The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which went into effect just a few weeks ago, is another example of EPA overreach. WOTUS expanded the term “navigable waters” to include anything from intermittent seasonal streams to the tanks that cattle drink from. This rule seeks to prevent farmers, ranchers, and property owners across the country from managing their land the way they see fit.
The EPA has continued to increase its regulatory jurisdiction over our land, water, and air without any real review process. Over the last six years alone, the EPA has issued over 3,000 new regulations – many of which stunt economic growth and handcuff job creators. Public hearings are nice, but they should only be one small part of a much larger process. Now more than ever we need to rein in this out-of-control EPA, not let them loose on America’s economy. The decision to implement new regulations should be made by the people’s elected representatives in Congress, not unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.
Economic growth and stewardship of our resources are not mutually exclusive goals. In fact, they go hand in hand. We know that the most successful efforts to protect the environment are those where all stakeholders are working together. We also know that when the EPA ignores local efforts to look after our environment in favor of severe, over-arching regulations, it often actually hinders efforts to protect the environment because the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t take into account what’s best for our region.
Texans know our land, water, and communities far better than Washington ever will. And not only do we have first-hand knowledge of what would work best for our communities – we also have the most at stake to lose. It’s time the EPA stops forcing misguided policies on our homes, businesses, and livelihoods.