Congressman Marino calls for EPA reforms following Supreme Court ruling

Following Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency inappropriately ignored cost concerns in its clean air regulations, Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) has called for broad reforms to guide the agency back to its statutory authority. In the following interview with The Ripon Advance, Marino explains his views. 

Ripon Advance: How, in your opinion, does Monday’s ruling help guide the future direction of the EPA?

Marino: My hope is that Monday’s decision will give both the EPA, and this Administration pause as it considers future regulations. The law at issue permitted regulation of pollutants if the EPA deemed it “appropriate and necessary.” The Court made it clear that the “appropriate” determination must include costs at the outset. A cost-to-benefit ratio of at best 1,400 to 1 certainly should fail any consideration of appropriateness.

Ripon Advance: What reforms should EPA consider for improving its rule making process?

Marino: As a starting point, the EPA should begin with following the letter of the law. Environmental regulations are important, but their implementation does not give the EPA a mandate to destroy our economy in the process.

Ripon Advance: How has EPA affected coal and power industries in Pennsylvania? Your district?

Marino: Coal powered generation accounts for 40 percent of electricity generation in Pennsylvania. The EPA’s war on coal, however, has led to coal plant closures in my district and across the state. This has led to thousands of direct and indirect job losses, and higher energy costs for my constituents.

Ripon Advance: Can you describe what you see as a good balance between protecting America’s environment and not overburdening industry?

Marino: I am a conservationist at heart. I grew up in a state full of hardworking people interested in being good stewards of our lands – because the land is our livelihood. Today I have five family farms surrounding my home. These folks are my neighbors and they agree, as I do, that it is the role of Congress to strike the balance between environmental protections and regulations. We cannot keep up the trend of giving bureaucracies and agencies the power to impose restrictions that burden our industries and empty our pocketbooks.

Ripon Advance: How can Congress help reform EPA?

Marino: While the EPA is of course one of the leading culprits of agenda driven abuse, we need to take an across the board look at the federal rulemaking and permitting process. Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in investment are lost by a federal permitting process that indefinitely delays, or completely derails worthwhile projects. The Court’s opinion also puts into question the large amount of deference that agencies receive when interpreting federal statutes. As was the case here, utilities were already well on the way to compliance with the rule before the Court ruled. In Congress, we need to find ways to reel in these agencies, whether by reforming their underlying statutes or our administrative process as a whole.

Ripon Advance: Is there bipartisan support for some of your desired EPA reforms?

Marino: One set of bipartisan reforms are contained in H.R. 348, the RAPID Act, a bill to reform the federal permitting process. The RAPID Act sets hard deadlines for environmental reviews and permit applications under the National Environmental Policy Act. Projects across the country – from highways and bridges, to pipelines and power plants – could finally get under way through these improvements and better coordination among federal agencies.