Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America


In a recent tweet I claimed that the regulatory agencies had evolved into a fourth branch of government that essentially combines legislative, judicial, and executive all into one neat body accountable to nobody. I was surprised at the number of people that didn’t understand the tweet, replying that only Congress can make laws. I’ll explain.

It’s true, only the State’s and the US Congress can make ‘law.’ However, agencies can make rules that if not complied with, can result in penalties that cost money which is tantamount to a fine. Laws passed by Congress generally include a range of penalties that may be determined by a judge. So, the statue is written into law by Congress, and is executed (enforced) by police (at the behest of the executive), and the penalty or consequence of non-compliance determined by a judge (judicial). That’s a simplistic illustration of how our founding fathers intended America to be. BTW, it’s still founding fathers; I recently heard them referred to as founding parents; gag me.

Regulatory agencies publish rules that are enforced by the same regulatory agency and the penalty for non-compliance of the rule is determined by, you guessed it, the same agency. If that’s not combining legislative, executive, and judicial into one central authority then somebody please explain.

How do the regulatory agencies get their power? That’s an excellent question, glad you asked. I’ll use the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as an example. Never heard of them? They’re a fifteen member government agency who determines Medicare reimbursement. What they say goes, unless Congress passes a statue that promises to result in an equivalent savings as that promised by the IPAB’s ‘ruling.’ And per Obamacare, it takes a 2/3 majority to disband the IPAB. This is typically how it works, Congress passes a law that’s nearly impossible to repeal or change that grants virtual unlimited rule making authority to a small group of appointed and usually partisan individuals.

In order to get Medicare reimbursement, medical professionals must use codes to describe procedures. The list of codes began with a few hundred and eventually reached 13,000. There are now over 68,000 (IDC-10). There used to be a single code for suturing an artery; there are now 195, designating every single artery. Heck, there’s a separate code depending on an injury sustained by sewing or knitting. Can you believe it?

We were talking about the EPA before you got me off track. The EPA recently announced three regulations, the most onerous of which is a 32% reduction in power plant carbon emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA has the legal authority to regulate emissions if such emissions threaten the public’s health and welfare. The US carbon emissions account for about 5% of the world’s carbon emission. So, a 32% reduction of US Carbon Emissions will result in 1/3 of 5% of the world’s carbon emissions, or a world-wide carbon emission reduction of about 1.6%. Based on the high probability that China, India, and other major carbon emission contributors are unlikely to follow suit, and industry is likely to flee America for less restrictive locals, I doubt the onerous rule foisted upon America will result in any beneficial impact to the health and welfare of Americans. More than likely it will result in job loss. It’s one of many regulatory rulings, the constitutionality of which is in question.

Politicians claim that regarding climate change, the science is settled. Fortunately, for scientists, the science is never settled. It was once thought, by scientists, that the world was flat, the sun revolved around the earth, and electricity was a Ben Franklin parlor trick. Speaking of Ben Franklin, I guess we have him to blame for discovering ways to harness and use the power of electricity by never considering the science settled and creating the carbon emission problem. Actually, a single volcano eruption emits more carbon emissions than all internal combustion engines and power plants have since Uncle Jed discovered Texas Tea and moved to Beverly Hills. I guess we can let Benny off the hook.

Who will benefit most from the recent EPA issuance? Attorneys. The rule is sure to be challenged by every state that uses electricity produced by a coal-fired plant, not to mention the constitutionalists, those guys who still believe the constitution means something.

Since it’s simple to calculate the infinitesimal affect this rule will have on climate change, why do it? Power. If this rule stands, and without an administrative and judicial change it probably will, the EPA will be embolden to continue the issuance of restrictive rules, each time increasing their power and authority over our everyday lives.

Remember those old fashioned toilets that used to flush? Thank the EPA for the anemic poor excuses for a toilet we now have. How about light bulbs that lit the room? Remember those? Now we have the ubiquitous pig tail that makes everyone think their eyesight has gone bonkers. It’s the EPA that is bonkers; your eyes are fine. Do you like that fireplace? Didn’t you realize your fireplace was destroying the ozone? Egads, I wonder what damage a giant California brush fire causes. And all of that smoke is drifting east. There’s a limit to how much worry and anguish that can be piled on at one time.

Speaking of piling on, car makers and car buyers, that’s you and me, are converging with an EPA rule that will surely cause heads to spin and the crazies to get out their signs. A now ancient EPA ruling requires car manufacturers to achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, less than ten years from now. The car maker conundrum is that car buyers prefer large powerful vehicles over smaller ones for silly reasons such as comfort and safety. The consequence of the ruling has already resulted in higher prices for the comfortable vehicles and subsidized prices on the smaller, less comfortable, and less safe vehicles. I’m wondering when the crippled survivors of a Ford Fiesta getting creamed by a Chevy Malibu will file a lawsuit against the EPA because what they really wanted was an F150 or Cheyenne that was priced too high for their budget as a consequence of the impractical and nearly possible 54.5 MPG ruling, which was imposed without constitutional authority. Yep, that was a run-on sentence.

I’ve gotten off track; this blog was about power plants that provide electricity. Every car maker now offers an electrical solution. This incongruent notion that electric cars are cleaner has always perplexed me. With an internal combustion vehicle the smoke comes out the back of the car, unless it’s like a car I once owned and the exhaust seeped out along a dented, bent, and perforated pipe the ran from the engine, under the car, next to the fuel tank, and eventually out the rear. A fair amount of the exhaust somehow made its way into the interior of the car. That explains a lot right there. On electric cars one must follow the 12/3 electric wire to their breaker box, then along the main power trunk to the power company substation and then to a faraway and unseen power plant. There one will see the mother of all exhaust pipes belching copious amounts of carbon emissions straight up to the ozone. What doesn’t reach the ozone lingers and drifts east causing acid rain, debilitating illness, forlorn, and generally diminishing the health and welfare of others. Either way, there’s a tail pipe; it’s all about the size of the pipe. So, I guess the larger the pipe the less the pollution. Maybe that explains why some those diesel pickups have a giant tail pipe. Heck, I thought those compensated for a lack of size in other areas. Maybe the solution is a giant solar panel mounted on top of the car like a sail.

Speaking of solar panels, have you heard the latest out of Arizona? You’d think that if any state could make a go of solar panels it would be Arizona. The average Arizonian is retired and intelligent. They’re smart and have time to think. Most reached the conclusion that the cost benefit of buying solar panels couldn’t be realized in their lifetime; it just takes too long to save enough on electricity to justify the expense of solar panels, even with the government subsidy, don’t get me started. Well, the solar panel companies, wanting to sell their panels now offer to lease the panels to these old erudite Arizonians. Essentially, the lease rate is the cost of the panels amortized over twenty years. Danged if the math still doesn’t work. Now faced with an average monthly solar panel lease of about $100 and an average electric bill savings that’s much less than their lease, for a total result of higher energy costs, the retirees are rebelling. Ain’t that something? That have lots of time; I’ll bet their signs will be doozies.

The EPA is but one regulatory agency. Another is the IRS. Soon, if not already, those appointed, rather than those elected, will be in control. The proverbial nuts are about to take over the asylum.

I was just given a hat that promotes Resurrecting Lives – The thought crossed my mind that people wear hats that promote something that aligns with their values. People wear hats emblazoned with their favorite sports team logo, their favorite affiliations, their favorite products, and sometimes the company where they work. Ever see anyone wearing a hat supporting the EPA? If the EPA does so much good, and is the guardian of our health and welfare, you’d think somebody’d be wearing an EPA hat. I hear they give EPA hats away free when you buy a Prius. I wouldn’t know.

Here’s an idea. Have you seen those giant wind turbines that are cropping up like Johnson grass all across the fruited plains? How about making the surface of their blades out of solar panel material? Does a solar panel have to be still? I’ve got it. How about bringing back the old toilets and installing a micro hydroelectric plant on the base of each toilet. Each flush could produce enough electricity to power a pen light that could be used to find the toilet when the sun ain’t shining on the solar panels, the wind ain’t blowin’ the turbines and all is dark. What is a fruited plain?

It’s raining outside, the bell just rang; it’s time for recess. I’m gonna go stomp in a mud puddle, splash some unsuspecting girl and get into trouble. I’m sure there’s a code for that kind of behavior, but since the teachers can no longer paddle, I ain’t skeered.


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