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Competitive Enterprise Institute Letter to Chairman Issa - January 3, 2011

Competitive Enterprise Institute Letter to Chairman Issa - January 3, 2011

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Published by CREW
In December 2010, Representative Darrell Issa, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to over 150 companies, trade groups, and research organizations asking them to identify federal regulations that adversely affect job growth. This letter is one of the many responses that CREW has collected and posted for public review.
In December 2010, Representative Darrell Issa, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to over 150 companies, trade groups, and research organizations asking them to identify federal regulations that adversely affect job growth. This letter is one of the many responses that CREW has collected and posted for public review.

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Published by: CREW on Jan 25, 2011
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1899 L Street N.W., 12
th
 
Floor • Washington, D
.C.
20036 • Phone 202.331.1010 • Fax 202.331.0640
 
 
 
 
January 3, 2011The Honorable Darrell E. IssaChairmanCommittee on Oversight and Government Reform2157 Rayburn House Office BuildingWashington, D.C. 20515Dear Mr. Chairman:I’m pleased to respond to your request for suggestions on regulations harmful to oureconomy. To date, those seeking to examine the appropriate role of government havefocused on taxation and spending. Congress should continue to scrutinize those burdens onthe economy. However, we at the Competitive Enterprise Institute have spent 26 yearsfocusing on the less salient, the hidden burdens, arising from the growth of the regulatorystate. Hearings to ensure that regulations receive the same critical attention of these more“honest” forms of intervention are overdue. If the people are able to see
 for whom theregulatory bell tolls
, the opportunity to liberate our economy, and thus stimulate economicgrowth, will be greatly enhanced. One hopeful sign is that Tea Party activists, whosupported many members of the new freshman class, have done much to increase publicawareness of the costs of regulation and have called for reform. We propose you undertakethe following investigations in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Energy
Shortly after his election, President Barack Obama said: “Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end. And I’m going to belooking for other means to address this problem.” Congress should investigate these “othermeans,” as the Obama Administration pursues energy rationing without any Congressionalinvolvement. The proposed regulations will depress investment, destroy jobs, raise energyprices for consumers, drive energy-intensive manufacturing jobs abroad, and createperpetual economic stagnation.
 
Runaway regulation under the Clean Air Act.
In regulating greenhouse gasemissions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to pick and choosewhich provisions of the Clean Air Act it wants to implement. But that is not how theClean Air Act was set up. Under the Act, regulation under one section tripsregulation under multiple other sections. Even if EPA tries to avoid this outcome,environmental pressure groups have already filed several lawsuits to compel theagency to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions under other sections. Unless
 
 
Congress intervenes, every building larger than a single-family dwelling likely willbecome subject to carbon controls in the near future.
 
 
EPA’s administrative cap-and-trade power grab.
The EPA plans to proposegreenhouse gas emissions control technology standards for power plants in July2011 under the Clean Air Act. One of the primary options the EPA is reportedlyconsidering is a cap-and-trade program. The fact that even the Democratic-controlled 111
th
 
De facto moratorium on American oil and gas production.
Political decisions byInterior Secretary Ken Salazar and his appointees have led to a steep decline indomestic oil and gas production on federal lands and offshore areas. Production isalready down and will almost certainly decline further. The extent of thesecancellations is not fully apparent because they have been done piecemeal. Aninvestigation is needed to put all the pieces together and thus show the damagedone—and being done—to America’s domestic oil and gas industry.Congress refused to enact a cap-and-trade program appears not tomatter to Climate Czar Carol Browner or EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The EPA’sauthority under the Clean Air Act requires clarification and the agency’s unilateralactions require investigation.
 
 Attack on Appalachian coal mining.
On April 1, 2010, the EPA announced andimmediately implemented rules for regulating a new “pollutant” under the CleanWater Act in order to stop new (and even existing) surface coal mining projects incentral Appalachia. This is already a huge threat to West Virginia and Kentucky andwill also probably impact Virginia and Pennsylvania. However, there is no reason tobelieve that the new salinity standards can be confined only to central Appalachia orapplied only to block surface coal mines. The fact that any surface disturbance canincrease salinity in nearby streams means that environmental pressure groups andNIMBY activists can file suit in federal court, under the Clean Water Act, to requirethe new standards to be applied nationwide. Thus, a threat to one region will almost certainly spread if Congress does not act to stop it.
 
Locking up federal lands.
The amount of federal land managed under the MultipleUse and Sustained Yield Act has been shrinking since the 1960s, as lands have beenplaced in one category of special environmental protection or another. Many of these withdrawals have been done by Congress through the creation of newWilderness Areas, new National Wildlife Refuges, etc. However, more and morelands are being designated administratively without any Congressional involvement or by abusing existing laws such as the 1906 Antiquities Act. Huge productiveresources—hard rock minerals, oil and gas, timber, coal—are thereby being placedoff limits. Inventories of the resources that have been removed from potential useneed to be undertaken and hearings should be held.
 
CAFE gone wild.
The 2007 anti-energy bill mandated higher Corporate AverageFuel Economy (CAFE) standards for new cars and light trucks. The Obamaadministration granted California’s request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act andimplemented the new CAFE standards on a faster schedule than Congress hadrequired. But even before the 35.5-miles-per-gallon fleet average takes effect in the
 
 
2016 model year, the EPA has started to push for progressive improvements in fueleconomy that will lead to a 47- to 62-miles-per-gallon standard by 2025. Thisinsanity must be stopped before taxpayers are facing a much wider federal bailout and takeover of the auto industry.
Finance
On December 16, 2010, the Federal Reserve issued regulation implementing the DurbinAmendment to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which puts controls on theinterchange fees retailers pay to process debit cards. The amendment—favored by some of the nation’s largest retailers—requires the Fed to “establish standards” to assess whetherinterchange fees are “reasonable and proportional to the cost.” However, the Fed’sproposed rule goes way beyond what the Durbin Amendment requires. If implemented asproposed, merchants will never pay more than 12 cents for any customer’s transactions,whether it’s for $1.00 or $10,000. Yet the costs of processing debit cards will not go away.They will simply be shifted to the community banks and credit unions that issue debit cardsand ultimately on to consumers. There are efforts underway in Congress to delay or repealthe Durbin Amendment, and even soon-to-be former House Financial Services CommitteeChairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), criticized the Fed on CNBC for setting the fees “too low.”Ideally, Congress should repeal the Durbin Amendment. Short of that, it should require theFed to justify the rates it has set.
Labor
Having failed to enact some key items in their legislative agenda—including themisleadingly named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)—into law, organized labor and theObama administration have indicated that they will seek to make an end run aroundCongress by imposing pro-union labor organizing rules through the regulatory process,mainly through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and National Mediation Board(NMB). Congress should resist any such attempts.
 
National Labor Relations Board
. The NLRB is considering allowing remoteelectronic voting (E-Voting), which would allow unions to conduct organizingelections via phone or the Internet. The NLRB says it wants to keep the votingsecret, but it would not be difficult for a union organizer using a laptop computer orsome other mobile device to pressure an individual worker to vote for the union.The NLRB is also considering expedited elections, which essentially would functionas ambush elections. Employers would have very little time to respond to unionorganizing campaigns, which gives the union a significant advantage.
 
National Mediation Board
. The NMB recently amended the Railway LaborAct (RLA), which regulates labor relations for railways and airlines, to skew votingrules in unions’ favor. Under the previous interpretation of RLA voting rules, whichdated back to 1934, a union needed to get a majority of all members in thebargaining unit to vote for unionization. Under the new interpretation, unions onlyneed to get a majority of votes cast, which can lead to a union being certified as the

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