At some point, ‘safety’ rules will go too far

Few federal officials have the kind of virtually unbridled power enjoyed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Merely by decreeing that in its officials’ opinion, an action is merited, the EPA can increase the cost of living dramatically for most Americans.

EPA abuse of that authority has intensified under President Barack Obama. He supports the agency’s campaign to shut down coal-fired power plants that provide reasonably priced electricity to more than one-third of the nation.

A federal appeals court handed the agency another victory this week. It ruled the EPA can go ahead with new limits on emissions of mercury and other substances from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

One judge on the court took issue with the EPA, however. “The problem here is that EPA did not even consider the costs” of its plan, Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote. “And the costs are huge, about $9.6 billion a year – that’s billion with a “B”- by EPA’s own calculation.”

EPA officials’ response was that their actions should be based on health risks, not the cost to consumers.

But who defines “risk”? The EPA, of course.

The EPA never factors into the equation what consumers might do with the money the new rules cost them, had they been allowed to choose how to spend it. In this case, ask yourself how much of the $9.6 billion a year might have been used for better health insurance, more regular visits to the doctor, healthier food or any number of things that might be beneficial.

Since the EPA was established decades ago, air, water and soil quality has improved exponentially, yet the EPA continues to claim it needs ever-more draconian rules to protect us – regardless of the cost.

Authority granted by Congress can be taken away by Congress. Why haven’t our elected lawmakers done that?