The Buffalo News, May 12, 2014
by Douglas Turner
WASHINGTON – Of all the characters created for the film “Ghostbusters,” the frantic Environmental Protection Agency inspector, or avenger, played by William Atherton took a particular stroke of genius.
Nicknamed “Dickless,” the sanctimonious EPA man had the full weight of the federal courts in his pocket, along with a warrant in his hand and a cop at his side. The scene where he ordered a shutdown of the “high-voltage laser-containment grid” was high comedy. But on the real streets and in the countryside, these officers aren’t kidding.
They’re loosed on businesses and other job creators by fiat; by direct order under the government’s vast and growing rule-making powers – these employees of the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies.
Under President Obama, these agents muscle colleges and churches on what sterilization insurance to buy, and audit unfriendly political organizations. This spreading web of regulation has been in motion for decades. Under Obama, though, our vast bureaucracy may harbor a new arrogance, a militancy inspired by the president’s defiant go-it-alone policy, his penchant for secrecy and selective enforcement.
Those remaining among us who still worry about government brawn owe a tip of the hat to Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, for alerting Congress to a power grab by Obama’s EPA, and its new partner in overreach, the Army Corps of Engineers.
Ordinarily, the EPA contends with lawyers for big power companies and corporate polluters of our waterways. This time, it literally will be in your face in your backyard.
Obama published a rule last month that would expand the EPA’s powers over countryside property, which is already covered by local and state codes. Joe and Jane Citizen have until late July to formally respond, and after that it’s tough bananas if they get rolled by progressive statists who populate this city.
The EPA already has oversight over navigable waterways and marshes called wetlands for sources of pollution under existing law. It is doing a lousy job considering the cascading pollution of Lake Erie.
The new rule published in the Federal Register is a thousands-word masterpiece of confusion intertwined with official ligaments and fatty tissue. It might have been inspired by the Book of Kells.
In a letter written by Collins to the EPA and the Corps of Engineers, he notes the rule amends, without consent of Congress, the Clean Water Act to give the government power over any collection of water, down to street puddles. With the EPA’s enforcement over existing bodies of water so weak, and possibly affected by powerful corporate influences, why is this necessary?
The Congressional Research Office says this one rule alone – not counting the 13,000 other rules promulgated under Obama – will cost up to $514 million a year, to hire and expense new federal agents to prowl in your yard.
Collins got 231 House members to sign this letter, including a handful of Democrats. Not a single Democrat from New York is on the list. That’s how respectful they are of Obama’s big government tactics.
The districts of the Democrat non-participants contain thousands of acres of suburban and rural property that will be affected is this rule becomes law.
If the complaints of the landowners are tossed off by the government, their only recourse is to take “Dickless” to court. At their expense.