Top Regulatory Opponents Tout Story Claiming EPA Wants to Make 230,000 New Hires; Turns Out Agency Was Arguing Specifically Against It

Amy Sinden

Sept. 27, 2011

It all started Monday on the Daily Caller. The story claimed that the EPA, in planning regulations on greenhouses gasses, is “asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats — at a cost of $21 billion — to attempt to implement the rules.” The story spread like wild among many of the usual suspects, like National Review, Red State  and Fox News. And it was promoted by some of the top anti-regulation advocates in Congress: Senator Jim Inhofe, House Energy & Commerce’s Environment and the Economy subcommittee chair John Shimkus, and Rep. Geoff Davis, chief sponsor of the REINS Act. Inhofe and Davis both reprinted the original article directly on their site.

One problem: the story isn’t true.

Daily Caller writer Matthew Boyle found the 230,000 stat in a brief the EPA filed on September 16. That brief defends the “tailoring rule,” which is the agency’s method of limiting which greenhouse gas emitters will be regulated under the Clean Air Act’s PSD Program. The EPA has said previously that it would be very impractical to require all small emissions sources (i.e., any facility emitting over 100 or 250 tons per year of CO2) to get a permit; instead, it will focus on large sources, such as big industrial facilities that emit at least 75,000 – 100,000 tons per year of CO2.

In the brief (see pages 48-49 of the PDF), EPA says that “immediately applying the literal PSD statutory threshold of 100/250 tpy to greenhouse gas emissions” – that is, no tailoring rule – would “overwhelm the resources of permitting authorities and severely impair the functioning of the programs…” It would necessitate, the EPA estimated, 230,000 new hires.

The irony here is that in worrying specifically about a hypothetical 230,000 new EPA hires, the anti-regulatory crowd has a great ally on this matter – one who just laid out a 149-page case against the non-tailored GHG regulation that could theoretically require it. That was the EPA.

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