Just in the last few weeks, the Obama administration has proposed or imposed over 1,200 new regulations on the American people that will add even more to the already crushing $2 trillion per year cost burden of the federal regulatory machine. According to data compiled from the federal government’s Regulations.gov website by the Daily Caller, most of the new regulatory schemes involve energy and the environment — 139 during a mere two-week period in December, to be precise. In all, the Obama administration foisted more than 75,000 pages of regulations on the United States in 2014, costing over $200 billion, on the low end, if new proposed rules are taken into account.
Just one of those “rules” by the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the so-called “coal ash” regulation, is expected to cost as much as $20 billion, estimates suggest. Another oncoming rule, which experts and analysts say is likely to be the most expensive federal regulation in all of U.S. history, could wreak havoc across the nation and crush the economy to the point that economic growth halts completely, experts said. Even Christmas lights, though, are now in the administration’s regulatory crosshairs, along with virtually everything else.
While the insatiable Obama White House “pen and phone” machine has been spewing costly and draconian regulatory edicts at a fast and furious pace since taking power six years ago, it seems that the Holiday season has featured an even larger than usual number of wild decrees. Late last month, for example, as Americans were occupied with Thanksgiving, the Obama administration emitted what has been widely decried as the most costly single regulation in American history.
The so-called “ozone rule,” which estimates suggest could cost as much as $270 billion per year and put millions of American jobs at risk under the guise of further regulating emissions of the natural gas, was formally put forward the day before Thanksgiving. Lawmakers decried the timing of the massive regulation, suggesting the scheme was released during the holidays so “stupid voters” — as ObamaCare’s architect infamously described the American people — would be distracted with other matters.
Experts also pointed out that the EPA’s own 2007 studies showed no adverse health effects from exposure to even high levels of ozone. Even people suffering from asthma experienced no adverse effects from high levels of ozone, the EPA itself found. More than a few experts have disputed the notion that ozone causes any harm at all — but that has not stopped the EPA from imposing the regulation under the guise of “protecting health.”
“Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk,” claimed scandal-plagued EPA boss Gina McCarthy in a statement celebrating the latest proposed decree. “It empowers the American people with updated air quality information to protect our loved ones — because whether we work or play outdoors — we deserve to know the air we breathe is safe.”
Air concentration of ozone gas, which largely occurs naturally, has been plummeting across the United States in recent decades even without the EPA’s “most expensive” regulation in history. According to the American Action Forum, which analyzes the impact of regulations, the ozone standards are so extreme that 100 state and national parks could be in danger of violating them — despite the fact that they have virtually no traffic or manufacturing bases. Ironically, the EPA claims an array of other recent EPA regulations could “help” states satisfy the new federal ozone decrees.
American industries, meanwhile, warned that the consequences of the “ozone” regulation on the fragile U.S. economy could be devastating. “This new ozone regulation threatens to be the most expensive ever imposed on industry in America and could jeopardize recent progress in manufacturing by placing massive new costs on manufacturers and closing off counties and states to new business by blocking projects at the permitting stage,” explained Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers.
In an analysis posted on the NAM website, the association included a map showing that, depending on how extreme the final ozone standard was, virtually all of the United States could be out of compliance with the EPA mandates. “With nearly all of the country in nonattainment, U.S. manufacturing growth would come to a standstill; our domestic energy boom could go bust; and existing plants would be required to install additional expensive equipment,” the organization said, citing EPA data.
According to a study released by NAM earlier this year, federal regulations imposed on the United States were costing the American people more than $2 trillion every year by 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. And the cost is growing quickly. In 2014 alone thus far, the Obama administration has imposed regulations that will cost the American people over $200 billion in addition to the pre-existing $2 trillion burden, according to low-end estimates by the American Action Forum. That does not include the cost of numerous “executive” decrees and assumes, contrary to findings presented in the NAM-commissioned study, that the cost of the "ozone" rule will be relatively small.
Another major regulation imposed by the Obama administration in recent weeks surrounds the so-called “coal ash” rule regulating waste produced by electricity generation. The new scheme, finalized shortly before Christmas, could cost over $20 billion. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), presumably the next chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, blasted the plot as “a continuation of the president’s war on fossil fuels.” Among other concerns, he said the new regulations would “make states and utility companies vulnerable to new regulatory costs and expensive litigation.”
Other costly regulations in the pipeline include the Obama EPA’s radical bid to severely curtail emissions of CO2. The natural gas, which makes up a fraction of one percent of all the “greenhouse” gases present naturally in the atmosphere, is exhaled by humans and is described by scientists as the “gas of life.” Still, the White House and the United Nations continue their outlandish campaign to demonize the essential molecule as “pollution,” even threating to shackle humanity to a draconian global CO2 regime under the guise of stopping “global warming.”
Next year, meanwhile, the Obama administration is plotting to unleash yet another deluge of federal regulations targeting everything from fracking to power plants. State governments, lawmakers, and citizens have been fighting back, but so far, the White House shows no signs of backing off or even slowing down the pace when it comes to devastating decrees to pummel the economy and the American taxpayer. More “climate” decrees are coming, too, with the White House even threatening to impose a UN carbon regime on America without obtaining Senate ratification.
Separately, as The New American reported this month, the Obama administration’s increasingly dangerous and anti-constitutional usurpations of power have been accelerating. Despite White House attempts to dupe the American people by claiming it has imposed fewer “executive orders” than previous presidents, the administration was recently exposed by USA Today concealing most of its unilateral decrees by calling them “presidential memoranda” instead of orders. Obama has issued more than any president in history, doing everything from purporting to change federal law to even attacking the American people’s God-given rights using illegitimate executive edicts.
With the sprawling regulatory leviathan growing perpetually more costly and oppressive, critics say the American people’s elected representatives and the courts must both take action. “Congress should examine how executive agencies are exceeding key authorities granted to them and both narrow the substantive grants that are most subject to abuse and improve administrative procedures on multi-billion dollar regulations,” wrote attorneys Todd Gaziano and Mark Miller with the pro-liberty Pacific Legal Foundation in a recent Forbes column about the need to regulate what constitutes a regulation. “Until then, the courts must police these two areas, particularly in the rulemaking context.”
While Republican lawmakers have become adept at loudly complaining about the administration’s non-stop executive power grabs and regulations on the campaign trail, so far, they have done virtually nothing to stop it. In fact, despite all of the promises to rein in the Obama administration’s “imperial” presidency if elected to Congress, victorious Republicans, who already dominated the House of Representatives, recently passed a massive spending bill fully funding virtually every decree the White House has spewed since coming to power through next September.
In other words, GOP lawmakers, sent to Washington by outraged voters in November to stop Obama, gave up their most powerful tool to restrain the administration for almost a full year — before the new members could be seated, and for no good reason. The solution to the growing regulatory lawlessness, though, remains simple: Congress can and should defund the decrees and the unconstitutional agencies behind them before Obama's "fundamental transformation" of America is complete.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at