The EPA wants to regulate this and that…but does it know what this and that is?


By: Jim Novak, Turfgrass Producers International

It seems as if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making rules and regulations on just about everything. Of concern is the perception that some EPA decision-makers and regulators sometimes seem a bit remiss when it comes to doing their homework or consulting with members of the scientific community prior to making far-reaching decisions that impact business and commerce.

This is obviously important. Many of its rules, regulations or guidelines impact the Green Industry. Uninformed outside interests, misinformed environmental activists or others with what appear to be personal agendas often seem to influence some of these decisions. Too often the scientific community is not consulted and, in spite of solicitation for responses to proposed EPA guidelines, submitted input seems to be brushed aside.

In light of this, I think it’s fair to ask:

— Do EPA decision-making officials really know the subject matter for which they establish regulations?

— Do they have more than a general knowledge, if that, of key issues from which they formulate their opinion and a follow-up course of action; decisions that in the end can impact all of us?

— Do EPA decision-makers really have a thorough understanding of phosphorous runoff, the impracticality of one-size-fits-all water mandates, the economic consequences of implementing rural dust regulations or the gray areas when it comes to establishing outdoor landscaping guidelines for their WaterSense program that don’t take into account regional differences, warm-season and cool-season grass varieties, and other variables such as annual precipitation?

These issues are just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg of concern that bring into to question what the EPA knows and what they need to know before proposing and especially enacting rules and regulations that affect all of us. And now it seems we can add their limited knowledge of carbon dioxide, CO2, to that chunk of ice that’s submerged under that proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Imagine how ridiculous it would be if an EPA administrator was to propose the need for CO2 regulations but was unaware of current atmospheric CO2 levels. Sounds a bit unlikely doesn’t it? How can anyone propose to regulate something when they don’t really know what it is they are regulating?

Although it’s hard to believe an environmental bureaucrat, speaking about the need to regulate CO2 emissions before Congress, would not know current atmospheric CO2 levels that was recently the case.

During the House Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on EPA’s job-killing greenhouse gas regulations on March 1, 2011, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) asked panel witness Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, Environmental Protection Agency and chief of EPA’s air programs, (including the agency’s greenhouse gas regulations) whether she had any idea what the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide currently was. Her response surprised just about everyone:

Rep. Joe Barton: “Do you know what the level of CO2 is right now, generally speaking, in the atmosphere?”

Gina McCarthy: “Actually I don’t have that figure.”

This wouldn’t be so shocking if (1) Ms. McCarthy wasn’t the White House expert on greenhouse gases, (2) if she wasn’t there to propose the need for regulations regarding CO2 levels, and (3) if she didn’t represent an agency that has repeatedly been asked to seek scientific council and review reliable research before establishing any sort of rules and regulations.

To think the EPA wants to regulate CO2 emissions but doesn’t know what the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is should raise cause for concern. After all, one would think that if the EPA really wants to regulate this or that they should, at the very least, know a little something about what it is they want to regulate.

Let’s just hope the EPA knows what they don’t know before they put together rules and regulations based on what they think they know.

To see a brief video of the exchange between Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and witness Gina McCarthy of the EPA visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nm0N5rmdtg.

CLOSING COMMENT: Atmospheric CO2 was reported at 391.76 parts per million (ppm) as of Feb. 2011. The answer is readily available from numerous sources including CO2Now.org and from the U.S Department of Commerce, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration – NOAA Research.

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